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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Undergraduate Course: Global Legal Histories (LAWS10243)

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 takes a 'global' approach to the concept of legal history. Rather than focusing on one legal family or one legal culture only, it examines - through comparison - different legal families and cultures across space and time. Issues such as legal history and legal culture across borders, constitutional experiences in global perspective, and the history of judicial experiences will form the substance of the course. Students will develop an understanding of the relationships between national legal-historical traditions and global legal history.
Course description The course will consist of 10 seminars.
Seminar 1 will be devoted to an introduction and contextualisation of the course. The remaining 9 seminars will be divided (3 apiece) among the following 3 broader topics:

Legal history and legal culture across borders,
- What is legal culture?
- Legal culture(s) and legal families
- Comparing legal cultures across time and space
Constitutional experiences in global perspective,
- The enactment of the Turkish civil code
- Civil law and the Meiji restoration in Japan
- The codification of Thai civil law
The history of judicial experiences.
- Law-finding in common-law legal cultures
- Law-finding in civil-law legal cultures
- Finding and applying the law in a 'wicked legal system'
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-requisites This 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:  33
Course Start Semester 1
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 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) The course will be assessed by two essays, each of 2,500 words and weighted at 30% and 70% of the final mark.
Feedback Feedback will be provided to students after the first essay. The first essay will assist students in preparation of the second essay which carries a heavier weighting.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate knowledge that covers and integrates most of the principal areas, features, boundaries, terminology and conventions of global legal history.
  2. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the principal theories, concepts and principles in this nascent field.
  3. Demonstrate a detailed knowledge and understanding of the three broad themes discussed in this course (legal history and legal culture across borders, constitutional experiences in global perspective, and the history of judicial experiences) which are at the forefront of a subject/discipline.
  4. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the ways in which the nascent subject/discipline is developing, including a range of established techniques of enquiry or research methodologies.
Reading List
Mathias Reimann, 'Rechtsvergleichung Und Rechtsgeschichte Im Dialog', Zeitschrift Für Europäisches Privatrecht 7 (1999): 496 - 512

Thomas Duve, 'Legal Traditions: A Dialogue between Comparative Law and Comparative Legal History', Comparative Legal History 6 (2018): 15 - 33

David M. Rabban, 'Methodology in Legal History', in Making Legal History, ed. Anthony Musson and Chantal Stebbings (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 88 - 107

Thorsten Keiser, 'Europeanization as a Challenge to Legal History', German Law Journal 6 (2005): 473 - 481

David Ibbetson, 'What is Legal History a History of?', in Law and History: Current Legal Issues 2003 Volume 6, ed. Michael Lobban and Andrew Lewis, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 1- 3

Matthew J. Festa, 'Applying a Usable Past: The Use of History in Law', Seton Hall Law Review 38 (2008): 479 -554

Richard A. Posner, 'Past-Dependency, Pragmatism, and Critique of History in Adjudication and Legal Scholarship', The University of Chicago Law Review 67 (2000): 573 - 606

Kjell Å Modéer, 'Abandoning the Nationalist Framework: Comparative Legal History', The Oxford Handbook of European Legal History, ed. Heikki Pihlajamäki, Markus D. Dubber and Mark Godrey (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018), 100-114

Heikki Pihlajamäki, 'Tracing Legal History In Continental Civil Law', The Oxford Handbook of Legal History, ed. Markus D. Dubber and Christopher Tomlins, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018), 718 - 737

Olivier Moréteau et al., Comparative Legal History, Research Handbooks in Comparative Law (Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Pub, 2019)

Jaakko Husa, 'Seeking a Disciplinary Identity - the Case of Comparative Legal History', Comparative Legal History 8 (2020): 173 - 193

David Ibbetson, 'The Challenges of Comparative Legal History', Comparative Legal History 1 (2013): 1 - 11.

David Ibbetson, 'Comparative Legal History', in Making Legal History, ed. Anthony Musson and Chantal Stebbings (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 131 - 145

Thomas Duve, 'What Is Global Legal History?', Comparative Legal History 8 (2 July 2020): 73 - 115

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Skills and abilities in Research and Enquiry:
- Experience of synthesising complex information and the ability to subject it to informed critique
- Offer critical insights, interpretations and solutions to problems arising from the nature and function of comparison in the context of the 'global'.
- Critically review and consolidate knowledge, skills, practices and thinking in a subject/discipline.
- Interdisciplinary understandings of complex problems

Skills and abilities in Personal and Intellectual Autonomy
- Demonstrate some originality and creativity in dealing with complex issues arising from comparing legal histories across space and time.
- Synthesis of complex information and ability to subject to informed critique.
- Make judgments where data/information is limited or comes from a range of sources.

Skills and abilities in Communication:
Knowledge and understanding as well as the practice of it, transferable cognitive skills (such as research methods and critical analysis of primary and secondary sources), communication and ICT skills, autonomy, accountability and the ability to work with others.

Skills and abilities in Personal Effectiveness:
- Appreciation of the value of history in recreating the past and influencing the present.
- Autonomy in critical analysis of primary and secondary sources.
- Critical self-reflection on the purposes of history for the development and future directions of global law.
Keywordslegal history,global histories,civil law,legal culture,constitution
Course organiserDr Lorren Eldridge
Course secretaryMiss Emma Hughes
Tel: (0131 6)50 2008
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