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FU-BEST 17: European Legal Traditions

InstructorMaximilian Wagner
Credit Points6 ECTS / 3 U.S. credits

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This course is designed for future law students but also for all those who are interested in gaining a closer understanding of how the history of law intermingles with European political thought and cultural practices.

The course seeks to provide a broad and theoretical overview of European legal traditions from a social, political, economic and comparative perspectives. Starting with Roman Law, its coverage ranges from discussing the authority of law in history, literature, economics and religion, through the creation of the European legal frameworks up to the establishment of a human rights tradition in Europe and beyond. Focus is given to the wider scope of legal developments in history that have shaped the conceptualization of law in present-day Europe and beyond. The course is roughly divided into two parts. The first part encompasses a brief overview of European legal thought from Roman law to the development of the common and civil legal traditions. In the second half of the course, after the Midterm Exam, we will examine the more recent developments of European politics and law. The first session will be dedicated to how social aspects (i.e. geography and religion) influence European legal developments. During the second session we will deal with the fascist tendencies leading to World War Two. This links up with one option for the Independent Project, which entails a closer look into the fascist laws passed in Germany as portrayed in “Places of Remembrance in the Bavarian Quarter: Exclusion and deprivation, expulsion, deportation and murder of Berlin Jews in the years 1933 to 1945” in Schöneberg.

The last two sessions will be dedicated to European integration and the formation of European Union mainly as an answer to the two World Wars. The focus here will be on the legal coverage of the Union’s economy and respect for human rights through supranational cooperation.