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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Postgraduate Course: Fundamentals of Comparative Private Law (LAWS11380)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Law CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryIn a globalised era, markets, societies, cultures, and political systems are interconnected. What is more, the growing permeability of frontiers, the openness of national economies and societies, has a deep impact on the evolution of the law, as legal concepts and principles flow across borders. Anyone envisaging a career with an international dimension, whether in practice or in academia, will need to engage not just with foreign laws and foreign legal concepts, but will also be confronted with different legal cultures. It is therefore crucial to be familiar with the opportunities but also the difficulties that arise when stepping outside one's own legal system.

The aim of this course is to provide students with a general introduction to the basics and the methodology of comparative law, and to equip them with the tools necessary to conduct comparative analysis. It offers an ideal foundation for students who want to study core areas of private law across both civil and common law jurisdictions.

The course is structured in two parts. While Part I of the course allows students to gain an understanding of the history of comparative law, its functions and main methodological approaches, Part II introduces them to the historical developments of the major legal traditions and their respective styles (including, for instance, an analysis of their respective sources of law and legal reasoning), with a particular focus on private law, as well as the challenges and potential pitfalls of the comparative enquiry.
Course description 1. Academic description

The aim of this course is to provide students with a general introduction to the basics and the methodology of comparative law, and to equip them with the tools necessary to conduct comparative analysis in the area of private law. The course will survey the major legal traditions, offering insights into their main characteristics and their historical development. Attention will be given to different methodological approaches to comparative law, and to the purposes and problems of the legal comparison.

2. Outline content

The course is structured in two parts:

Part I
What is comparative law?
The functions of comparative law
Methodological approaches ¿ The functional approach
Methodological approaches ¿ Legal transplants
Comparative law and language

Part II
The Civil law tradition (with a particular focus on the French and the Germanic legal family)
The Common law tradition
Mixed legal systems
Beyond the Western legal tradition
Limitations, pitfalls and difficulties of the comparative enquiry

3. Student Learning Experience

The course will be taught by a series of 10 two-hour seminars, for which students will be provided in advance with reading lists, and questions to guide their development of ideas. Active participation in seminar discussions will be encouraged. The course will emphasise the connection of ideas across a range of legal traditions.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2019/20, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  27
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 4, Formative Assessment Hours 2, Summative Assessment Hours 4, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 166 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) The course is assessed by a 5,000-word essay which requires to be submitted in early January. A choice of topics will be given.
Feedback All students will be required to give an oral presentation concerning a particular paper on the reading list or on a specific topic. In addition, they will be given the opportunity to submit a piece of formative written work in week 8 of semester.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand comparative private law as a distinct discipline which is separate from the study of national laws.
  2. Understand the main methodological approaches to the comparative exercise in the field of private law.
  3. Discern the value but also the challenges of the comparative enterprise.
  4. Understand the core features of the main legal traditions examined.
Reading List
The literature published in this area is substantial. The essential reading for each seminar is indicated on the handout accompanying the particular seminar. Among the books that students will frequently use are:

* K Zweigert and H Kötz, Introduction to Comparative Law (OUP, 3rd edn 1996 transl T Weir)
* M Reimann and R Zimmermann (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Law (OUP 2006)
* HP Glenn, Legal Traditions of the World (OUP, 5th edn, 2014)
* M Bussani and U Mattei (eds), The Cambridge Companion to Comparative Law (CUP, 2012)
* E Örücü and D Nelken (eds), Comparative Law: A Handbook (Hart Publishing, 2007)
* M Siems, Comparative Law (CUP, 2nd edn 2018)
* W Menski, Comparative Law in a Global Context (CUP, 2nd edn, 2006).
* G Frankenberg, Comparative Law as Critique (Elgar, 2016)
* VV Palmer, Mixed Jurisdictions Worldwide: The Third Legal Family (2012 2nd edn CUP).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Students will develop the skills of working independently in the critical analysis of legal and source materials across different jurisdictions. They will gain experience in comparative methodology, and will be equipped with the tools necessary to conduct comparative analysis. They will develop sensitivity to the nuances of language and terminology. By interactive discussion, they will learn the value of shared dialogue to the formation and refinement of their thinking.
KeywordsComparative Private Law,Civil and Common Law,Mixed Jurisdictions,Legal Transplants,Functional Method
Course organiserProf Alexandra Braun
Tel: (0131 6)51 5560
Course secretaryMiss Lauren Ayre
Tel: (0131 6)50 2010
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