Legal History

Course code LAWS5017
Available in 2016
2016 Course Timetables


Legal History deals with topics in ancient and modern legal history, including aspects of the Roman legal system, the legal framework of slavery in English legal history and law reform movements and legislative action in the 19th century.



  • Semester 2 - 2016

Learning Outcomes

1. The capacity to locate and use primary sources of legal history efficiently and effectively;

2. The capacity to engage in legal research and craft arguments based on a legal history topic provided by your lecturers;

3. A critical understanding of the sources of Roman Law and forms of legal regulation of the family and property in their social context;

4. A capacity for critical reflection on the process of law reform in nineteenth century England, including the role of law reform committees and their report, social movements and organisations, the Parliament and executive government


Topics covered in this course:

  1. Introduction to Legal history, ancient and modern, and its sources
  2. Roman Law (1) Background to the Constitution and historical development of the legal system
  3. Roman Law (2) Sources of Law
  4. Roman Law (3) Patria potestas and the law of the Roman family
  5. Roman Law (4) The Law of Marriage and Divorce
  6. Roman Law (5) Emancipation and the law of adoption
  7. Roman Law (6) Roman Wills and the law of succession
  8. English Legal history: the law of slavery and its abolition (3 weeks)
  9. English Legal history: the reform in 19th century England (3 weeks)

Law Reform stream may be chosen from the following or other analogous topics:
The Married Women's Property Acts, the regulation of child labour and/or compulsory education statutes, poor laws and their reform, contagious diseases legislation, the reform of legal process and the Judicature Acts, or Lord Shaftesbury's workplace reforms.


This course is only available to students enrolled in the Bachelor of Laws and associated combined degree programs or Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and associated combined degree programs.

Assumed Knowledge

LAWS1001A, LAWS1001B, LAWS1002A, LAWS1002B, LAWS2004A, LAWS2004B, LAWS3004, LAWS3004B, LAWS4011

Assessment Items

Essay: Essays / Written Assignments

Formal Examination: Examination: Take Home

Contact Hours



Face to Face On Campus 3 hour(s) per Week for Full Term