Legal History (Advanced) module (LW41025)

Learn about legal history and historiography, the significance of legal treatises, and explore select historical topics in Scottish, English, and European law

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Module code


This module opens with the consideration of legal history and historiography. The significance of legal treatises in the development of both jurisdictions is explored.

The main texts that will be used in this module include:

  • Institutions of the Laws of Scotland by Viscount Stair
  • Commentaries on the Laws of England by William Blackstone

The following texts will also be considered at various points:

  • Historia Placitorum Coronæ by Hale
  • Laws and Customs of Scotland in Matters Criminal by Mackenzie

You will also learn about the context of the Acts of Union of 1706/7 and the significance of their terms for the legal systems of Scotland and Britain. Additional topics that may be considered include:

  • the struggle for power between parliament and the Crown and seventeenth-century witchcraft prosecutions
  • eighteenth-century marriage law
  • nineteenth-century trade union law
  • the limited decriminalisation of abortion and homosexuality in the 1960s

What you will learn

In this module, you will:

  • develop knowledge and understanding of how and why laws and legal systems change (or fail to change) over time
  • develop knowledge of the relationship between laws, legal systems, and society
  • develop an awareness of legal history as a discipline

By the end of the module, you will be able to:

  • independently research new areas of legal history
  • interpret a range of relevant materials, including statutes, cases, and commentary
  • analyse the law and legal change in their social contexts

Assignments / assessment

  • coursework (40%)
  • online exam (60%)

Teaching methods / timetable

The module will be delivered through hybrid and face-to-face teaching, student-led seminars, and independent study.

This module is available at Levels 3 and 4. You are only able to take one version of this module. Your adviser of studies will help you choose.


This module is available on following courses: