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Unit information: Comparative Law in 2020/21

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Unit name Comparative Law
Unit code LAWD20001
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Zwingmann
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

Comparative Law is the study of the development and key characteristics of common and civil law legal systems. Students will be introduced to the historical origins of common and civil law legal traditions, comparative law methodology, sources of law, the role of courts, judges and lawyers, globalisation and harmonisation, and the structure and development of legal principle from a public and private law perspective. It provides an essential basis for those studying abroad, but will also give those hoping to enter international legal practice a broader understanding of global legal systems. The unit aims to introduce students to the methodologies of comparative law as a discipline as well as to give a basic grounding in common law and civilian legal systems. This will include the historical development of the systems, their structure, the different sources of law and basic distinctions between public and private law, as well as specific topics in these areas. Finally, the unit aims to introduce students to phenomena of legal globalisation and projects involving the harmonisation of laws, as well as enabling them to evaluate such developments.

Intended Learning Outcomes

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

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the value of comparative law;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the differences (and similarities) between common and civil law systems;
  • Access and interpret sources of law;
  • Demonstrate a core understanding of public and private law in common and civil law systems.

Teaching Information

Teaching will be delivered through a variety of asynchronous and synchronous activities

Assessment Information

1 x summative assessment: coursework with a specified word count (100%)

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

Reading and References

Core texts and resources:

  • Jan M Smits (ed), Elgar Encyclopaedia of Comparative Law (2nd ed, Edward Elgar, 2012);
  • Peter De Cruz, Comparative Law in a Changing World (3rd edition, Routledge-Cavendish, 2007);
  • Mathias Reimann and Reinhard Zimmermann (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Law (2nd ed., OUP, 2019);
  • H Patrick Glenn, Legal Traditions of the World: Sustainable diversity in law (5th ed, Oxford University Press, 2014).

Each seminar has its own reading list to be found in the Unit Guide and on Blackboard.