European Legal History

Dr Joe Sampson

This course examines the Civil Law tradition from ancient Rome to the present day. It begins with the distinctive features of Roman Law, as preserved in Justinian’s Corpus Iuris Civilis. It then follows the broad contours of the Civil Law’s development in the Middle Ages and Early Modern period, through to the modern Civil Law codes. Where appropriate, the course will look beyond the confines of the Civil Law tradition to see how extra-legal influences (e.g. theology) helped direct the development of the law. To illustrate the patterns of development under examination, reference will be made to the development of the law’s treatment of wrongdoing.

Course Aimed At: Anyone interested in intellectual history or law.

Pre-Requisite Knowledge Required: None

Transferable Knowledge and Skills: The course is both historical and legal. Although the course’s primary focus is historical, regular reference will be made to specific legal doctrines and their evolution. Thus it will help foster the analytic skills and argumentation that law and history each develop.


Final essay (2,500-3,000 words): 50%

Final exam: 50%

Student Contact Time

Lectures: 12 x 75 minutes (total 15 hours)

Seminars: 8 x 75 minutes (total 10 hours)