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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Undergraduate Course: Private Law Theory (LAWS10172)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Law CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course offers the student the opportunity to reflect over fundamental questions about private law and its relation to the private sphere. Students will be invited to reflect on private law and on its relation to: (a) other areas elements of the legal system (in particular public law and criminal law), (b) different domains of social action (in particular the political and economic), (c) the ethical reasons that might justify different aspects of private law. Students will also be encouraged to reflect on (i) whether the domain of private law can be said to be a unity (in particular in view of the crucial distinction between the law of obligations and the law of property) and, if so, (ii) what brings those elements together. Students will also be encouraged to reflect on the implications of those conceptions of private law to law┐s development and to the interpretation of positive law (with a specific focus on examples drawn from individual legal systems, in particular Scots law).
Those general themes will provide the framework within which students will reflect on many different attempts to justify specific aspects of private law, such as Locke┐s justification of private property (later developed by Nozick), Hegel┐s justification of private property, Weinrib┐s conception of how contracts relate to corrective justice, and the economic analysis of the law of delict.
Course description Indicative teaching programme

The seminars are envisaged to cover such topics as:
- The relationship between private law and the private domain of social action
- The public law/private law divide
- Private law, corrective justice and distributive justice
- Exclusive allocation of goods
- The Unity of Private Law (or why Property Law and the Law of Obligations are co-original)
- Private law as an instrument (punitive and preventive roles in private law?)
- Private law and recognition: from protecting the will to responding to need.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Knowledge and Sources of Law:

    This course┐s primary aim is to develop the students┐ ability to engage critically with private law concepts, norms, and doctrines. This critical engagement will take different forms and, in particular, the course will try to help the students reflect on (a) the internal coherence of the private law system; (b) its normative foundations; (c) its role in contemporary social theory and (d) its normative and conceptual development over the past few centuries. The course will draw on a number of intellectual resources, (texts by doctrinal writers, philosophers, legal theorists) and the legal sources will be selected so as to highlight the relevant theoretical/doctrinal arguments. It is envisaged that the sources of law will be drawn from a number of different legal systems, and will be within the broad area of private law. The course will also rely on the students┐ basic knowledge (acquired at ordinary level) of some sources.
  2. Subject-specific Skills:

    Ability to critically reflect on the general internal coherence of private law, on its normative foundations, and on its social role.
  3. General Transferable Intellectual Skills:

    The ability to think critically and to produce and assess sound arguments about the foundations of private legal rules, concepts, and doctrines
  4. Key Personal Skills:

    The ability to engage critically but charitably with other people┐s views and arguments, including normative views and arguments irrespective of topic.
  5. Subject-specific Legal and Ethical Values:

    The course will foster reflection on the moral and political implications justification of private law in general and of some of its crucial doctrines.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Claudio Michelon
Course secretaryMrs Susan Leask
Tel: (0131 6)50 2344
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