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The rule of law is a hallmark of contemporary Western society. Public perceptions of and attitudes to the law, however, can vary in space and time. This subject explores legal solutions to selected problem scenarios in their broader historical and societal context. The focus is on the main 'families' of law in existence today: the Anglo-American ('common') law and the Continental-European ('civil') law. The use of a comparative approach both facilitates and promotes a deeper understanding of the society in which we live and the rules by which it is shaped.
Particular topics may include:
- Individual responsibility and the law: risk allocation and blame shifting in personal injury scenarios;
- consumers and the law: liability of manufacturers for defective products;
- morality and the law: the role of good faith in commercial relations;
- strangers and the law: duty to the rescue;
- equality at work: institutionalised forms of employee participation; and
- globalisation and the law: the European Union and its implications for the traditional distinction between civil and common-law legal families.
Intended learning outcomes
On completion of this subject students should:
- Recognise that many human dilemmas have a legal connection point;
- appreciate that different legal traditions may experience similar problems even though the approach to these problems may differ considerably; and
- understand the benefits and pitfalls of a comparative approach to law study.
On completion of the subject, students should have developed the following generic skills:
- The capacity for close reading and analysis of a range of textual materials;
- the capacity to engage in critical thinking and to bring to bear a range of conceptual analyses upon a given subject matter;
- the capacity for independent thought and reflection;
- the capacity to articulate knowledge and understanding of complex ideas in oral and written form; and
- the ability to confront unfamiliar and challenging issues and to consider appropriate legal and policy responses to them.
Last updated: 10 December 2019