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Unit information: Legal History in 2015/16

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Unit name Legal History
Unit code LAWD30106
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Professor. Seabourne
Open unit status Not open




School/department University of Bristol Law School
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

This unit examines aspects of the history of the common law in England and Wales, dealing with the institutions of the common law and with substantive development in selected areas of law. Topics to be covered will include: courts and lawyers, crime and punishment, compensation for wrongs and marriage and divorce. Students will learn from textbooks, academic writings and original documents (in English).

An understanding of legal history is highly desirable for anyone wishing to work in the precedent-based common law world. In terms of providing a rounded legal education, it is arguably as important to view law in its historical context as to examine philosophical or sociological factors.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of this unit a successful student will be able to:

  • Explain the development of courts and lawyers in England 1066-1875
  • Explain the development of selected substantive areas
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the sources for the study of legal history
  • Discuss law in historical context, covering both institutional and substantive topics on the syllabus
  • Critically evaluate patterns of development and stagnation in the law

Teaching Information

10 x 2hr Seminars plus 10 lectures

Assessment Information

Summative assessment: one three-hour closed book examination in May/June, in which students answer 3 questions.

Formative assessment: students are required to do one, and may do two pieces of formative work

The examination includes essay type questions, designed to assess both whether students have covered the syllabus and whether they are able to think critically about the material studied, and present their arguments in an academically respectable manner.

The assessments will assess all of the intended learning outcomes for this unit.

Reading and References

The core text is J.H. Baker, Introduction to English Legal History, latest edition, currently 4th edn (2002)