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Unit information: Legal History in 2021/22

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 Dr. McCunn
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 selected institutional and 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

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

Assessment Information

1 x summative assessment: Timed Open Book Assessment with a specified word count (100%)

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


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. LAWD30106).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.