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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Undergraduate Course: History of English Private Law (LAWS10255)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Law CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course provides a broad understanding of the history of English private law over the period from 1066 to today. It focuses on four topics in four time periods: medieval land law; Tudor equity and trusts; early modern contract law; and tort law in the industrial revolution. Existing knowledge of the English legal system is not essential, but some general knowledge of English history is a useful starting point. Some understanding of Roman law is also useful but not essential.

The course will involve the use of case law, legislation, and secondary literature in order to understand key developments in these topics. The focus of the course is not deep doctrinal understanding, but an appreciation of the relationship between law and history through the medium of particular legal developments. Students will be encouraged to make comparisons with any existing knowledge they have of later periods or other jurisdictions in order to evaluate as well as describe the law.
Course description 1. Introduction to English legal history
2. Sources of English legal history
3. English land law: medieval origins
4. English land law: feudalism
5. English equity and trusts: what is a trust
6. English equity and trusts: Lord Dacre's case
7. English contract law: consideration
8. English contract law: freedom of contract
9. English tort law: the development of negligence
10. English tort law: the development of nuisance
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
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 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Formative assessment: formative task in Week 2 on sources of English legal history; a short essay to set expectations for written work and give students practice and brief feedback.«br /»
Summative assessment: Essay 1 - mid semester, 2,500 words, (30%); Essay 2 - end of semester, 3,000 words, (70%)«br /»
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
Knowledge of the history of English private law in four selected periods, including the use of case law and legislation
Reading List
Core texts:
John Baker, Introduction to English Legal History (5th edn, OUP 2019)
John Baker (ed), Sources of English Legal History (2nd edn, OUP 2019)
David Ibbetson, A Historical Introduction to the Law of Obligations (OUP 2001)
AWB Simpson, A History of the Common Law of Contract (OUP 1987)

Supplementary texts:

John Baker, 'Why the History of English Law has not been Finished' [2000] CLJ 62
J H Barton, 'The Medieval Use' (1965) 81 LQR 562
J Bean, The Decline of English Feudalism (MUP 1987)
P Brand, The Making of the Common Law (Hambledon 1992)
P Brand, Earliest English Law Reports (123 Selden Society 1996)
C Fifoot, History and Sources of the Common Law (Stevens 1952)
R Helmholz and Zimmermann, Itinera Fiduciae: Trust and Treuhand in Historical Perspective (Duncker & Humblot 2013)
SFC Milsom, Historical Foundations of the Common Law (2nd edn, Butterworths 2014)
Pollock and Maitland, History of English Law (2nd edn, 1911)
S Reynolds, Fiefs and Vassals (OUP 1994)
AWB Simpson, A History of the Land Law (OUP 1986)
AWB Simpson, 'The Rise and Fall of the Legal Treatise: Legal Principles and the Forms of Legal Literature (1981) 48 U Chi L Rev 632
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills 1. The ability to read, research, and analyse law in different time periods and apply it to evaluate historical iterations of legal concepts
2. Ability to compare and critically analyse law across different time periods and contexts
3. Ability to express ideas clearly and cogently orally and in writing and to extract, analyse and apply information
4. Ability to organise their own learning and preparation and manage time consistent with Honours level expectations
5. Ability to work in an inter-disciplinary way, using both legal and non-legal research materials
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Lorren Eldridge
Course secretaryMiss Emma Hughes
Tel: (0131 6)50 2008
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