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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Postgraduate Course: The Anatomy of Private Law (LAWS11222)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Law CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryAnatomy of Private Law is a course that helps students understand private law as a rational tradition. The word ┐anatomy┐ conveys an idea of ┐cutting open┐: revealing the underlying structure (or skeleton) of the law which, although invisible, holds legal materials ┐ statutes, cases, doctrinal writing ┐ together. The course focuses on key doctrines of private law, such as the concepts of possession and ownership in the law of property; the concept of a trust, a civil wrong or a contract in the law of obligations; negotiorum gestio or the principle against unjust enrichment; remedies for breach of contract; agency and the like.
Course description The choice of topics will vary from year to year but the aim is always the same: to cut through the mass of materials to get to the core of a given doctrine. Rather than providing information, the course seeks to promote understanding of some fundamental principles in their multifaceted reality. To that effect, it mobilises the resources of three intertwined disciplines: comparative law, legal history and legal theory. As these are brought together, the rationality ┐ imperfect but very real ┐ which underpins private law in its generality, irrespective of space and time, comes into sharper focus.

Jurisdictionally, all seminars aim to cross the divide between the civilian tradition and the common law. The main systems relied upon are: on the common-law side, English law; on the civilian side, French and German law (with some references to Roman law when appropriate); finally ample reference will be made to mixed legal systems such as Scots law. Anatomy of Private Law complements very well, but does not replace ┐ or significantly overlap with ┐ the substantive courses in comparative contract, delict/tort, unjust(ified) enrichment, property or trusts which are also offered on the LL.M. in the Law School.
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. 1. Students will be expected to develop knowledge and understanding of the general principles underpinning key doctrines of private law in a comparative perspective and understand how the law evolved into its current form.
  2. 2. Students will be expected to develop skills in comparative and critical analysis of fundamental principles over the divide between the civilian tradition, the common law and mixed legal systems. By the end of the course, students should be able to have a much deeper understanding of core doctrines, going far beyond the current legal position of any given legal system
  3. 3. Students will be expected to carry out independent research during the course, both in preparing for class and in completing the assessments.
  4. 4. Students will be expected to develop key communication skills by: ┐ participating in class discussions on a weekly basis. ┐ producing an essay setting out the result of independent research.
  5. Students are expected to be able to manage their time appropriately and to work to deadlines in submitting their summative assessment.
Reading List
None is required but students who are keen to get started can profitably read parts or all of James Gordley, Foundations of Private Law (OUP 2007)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills See 2-5 of the Learning Outcomes above.
Keywordsprivate law,comparative law,contract,delict,tort,unjust enrichment,restitution,
Course organiserMr Eric Descheemaeker
Course secretaryMs Karin Bolton
Tel: (0131 6)50 2022
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