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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
SummaryThe aim of this course is to provide students with a general introduction to the basics of the comparative study of law, and to equip them with the tools necessary to conduct comparative analysis with a particular focus on private law. Attention will be given to different methodological approaches to the comparative enquiry, and to the purposes and problems of the legal comparison. The course will also assess the taxonomical debates in comparative legal scholarship through the lens of the main sources of law. This course thus 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. Part I of the course engages with the aims of the comparative inquiry and explores various methodological approaches placing emphasis on both theory and practical applications. Part II introduces students to the taxonomical debates, the main sources of law in both the common and civil law traditions. It thus allows students to gain an understanding of what can and should be compared, as well as of the challenges and potential pitfalls of the comparative enquiry.
Course description Outline content

The course is structured in two parts:

Part I
Aims and Purposes of the Comparative Inquiry
Methodological Approaches - Functional v Cultural Approach - the Theory
Methodological Approaches - Functional v Cultural Approach - Practical Applications
Methodological Approaches - Historical approach - the Theory
Methodological Approaches - Historical approach - Practical Applications

Part II
Comparative Legal Studies, Language and Legal Translations
Comparative Legal Studies and the Taxonomy of Legal Systems
Codes/Codification and Legislation
Judges and Case Law
Jurists and Juristic Writings

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 reading and the development of ideas. Active participation in seminar discussions is a core aspect of the course delivery and will therefore be strongly encouraged.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  25
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. A choice of topics will be given.
Feedback All students will be expected to be prepared to give a short oral presentation concerning a particular paper on the reading list or on a specific topic. This will not be part of their summative assessment but will enable students to develop soft skills and to explore certain topics in greater depth. In addition, they will be given the opportunity to submit a piece of formative written work. The formative assessment does not contribute toward the overall course mark.

Feedback on the formative assessment may be provided in various formats, for example, to include written, oral, video, face-to-face, whole class, or individual. The course organiser will decide which format is most appropriate in relation to the nature of the assessment.

Feedback on the formative in-course assessed work will be provided in time to be of use for the summative assessments within the course.

Feedback on the summative assessment will be provided in written form via Learn, the University of Edinburgh's Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).
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 some of 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, 2nd edn 2019)
* 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)
* A Watson, Legal Transplants. An Approach to Comparative Law (2nd edn 1993)
* S Koch and J Ø Sunde, Comparing Legal Cultures (Fagbokforlaget, 2nd edn 2020)
* 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).
*C Valcke, Comparing Law. Comparative Law as Reconstruction of Collective Commitments (CUP 2018)
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 Bethan Walters
Tel: (0131 6)50 2386
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