Timetable information in the Course Catalogue may be subject to change.

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Undergraduate Course: Private Law Theory (LAWS10172)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Law CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
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 Spaces on this course are allocated as part of the Law Honours Course Allocation process. Places are generally only available to students who must take Law courses. To request a space on this course, please email
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesThis course is only open to visiting students coming through a direct exchange with the School of Law (including Erasmus students on a Law-specific Exchange). Exchange students outside of Law and independent study abroad students are not eligible to enrol in this course, with no exceptions.

**Please note that 3rd year Law courses are high-demand, meaning that they have a very high number of students wishing to enrol in a very limited number of spaces.**
Priority will be given to students studying on exchange within the Law department, and it is highly unlikely that there will be additional spaces for general exchange students & independent study abroad students to enrol; we will look into this on a case-by-case basis in September/January. Visiting students are advised to bear in mind that enrolment in specific courses can never be guaranteed, and you may need to be flexible in finding alternatives in case your preferred courses have no available space.

These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. It is not appropriate for students to contact the department directly to request additional spaces.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 70 %, Coursework 30 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) This course will be assessed by two elements:

(a) Unseen written exam, lasting 2 hours, worth 70% of the final marks.

(b) Take-home task, worth 30% of the final mark. In the take-home task, students will be asked to analyse critically a previously distributed short text. The text will be distributed after seminar 7. Students will be given 7 days to produce their critical analysis, in no more than 1200 words.
Feedback Not entered
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)3:00
Resit Exam Diet (August)Alternative Assessment3:00
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: The 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 secretaryMiss Lauren McCrory-Irving
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information