Legal History and History of Justice

ldrop2151  2022-2023  Louvain-la-Neuve

Legal History and History of Justice
5.00 credits
30.0 h
Main themes
The paper will specifically follow the conventional two-fold historical approach which considers, respectively: (1) The 'external' history, i.e. the study of legal sources and authorities, the social and political actors, collective representations, etc. (2) The 'internal' history, i.e. the development of positive law (substantive and adjective), of legal and judicial practice, of the courts' system and structures, of the law's and the administration of justice's purpose in a non-legal context and perspective. The specific topics which will be discussed may vary from one year to another. They will be sufficiently versatile, so that students from different backgrounds may achieve the aims stated above. For example, in the case of law students, their specialisation in private law, criminal law, constitutional law etc. will be taken into account; in the case of history students, whose work requires them to deal with legal sources and institutions, any tasks will focus on the period of their specialisation.
Learning outcomes

At the end of this learning unit, the student is able to :

1 The course welcomes students from different academic backgrounds, whether they have been educated in law, history or any other field of the humanities and social sciences (e.g. criminology, business administration…). For most students, the course may serve a complementary purpose or it may be useful, through its methodology, as an auxiliary discipline. In practice, it may thus contribute to a better understanding of their own main area of studies, but also, in the context of the fundamental theory and research of their specialism, to add an historical dimension to their work - (e.g.) it will teach how to incorporate correctly and succesfully historical materials and notions in their scholarly approach. The course will therefore aim, as regards professional skills and academic abilities: (1) to present the state of the art in the area of legal history and history of justice, beyond the introductory level of the undergraduate (i.e. bachelor's) programme. (2) to provide students in law, criminology and history with the expertise and historical criticism which will enable them to access both primary and secondary source-material in the area of legal and forensic history, so that they may adequately use that material in the course of their research and papers written within the field of their own academic expertise. (3) to assist them in researching and writing their Master's thesis, whether that thesis deals specifically with a topic of legal or forensic history or not - (e.g.) in order to include an appropriate historical introduction in a thesis on a current legal issue, or to document and support the legal aspects in a thesis on any topic related to the history of the administration of justice, social history, political history etc. The course is based on participatory teaching methods (learning through projects or problems, review of the relevant case-law and doctrine, debates with guest speakers, field studies ...) which allow the students to develop independently a critical, forward-looking and inventive look on public international law. Students are encouraged to participate and to get involved in learning, which has both an individual and a collective dimension.
The part of the course managed by A. Wijffels will be entirely in English: the classes will be in English, all communication and discussions will be in English, and the students' work will have to be written in English.
The topic may vary from year to year. It ususally deals with issues of Anglo-American law. For example, in recent years, topics have included: The House of Lords Reform; Brexit and the UK British Constitution.
The general approach is one of comparative legal history. It requires students to work on primary sources of (mostly, modern) legal hiustory, often related to contemporary issues.
Teaching methods
A. Wijffels' part (in English, cf. supra) will consist in a few informative classes about the topic and the issue. Students, in small groups of three or four, will be given  task consisting in reporting on their reading of a variety of sources around a more specific topic related to the theme of the year. They will report in group orally (each member of the group speaking individually); the report will be discussed with the lecturer, who may offer critical feedback, suggestions and advice, and each student will then submit a revised short paper on her or his contribution to the group's report. That individual paper is decisive for the mark with regard to this part of the course.
Please note that each student has to fulfill the requirements for both parts of the course (i.e. both for Pr. X. Rousseaux and Pr. A. Wijffels) . If a student fails to submit his or her work for one of the two parts, no marks will be given for the course at all.
All the teaching and the group discussions take place in situ. In 2019-2020, it has been necessary to switch entirely to on-line methods. The experience has shown that this was perfectly possible, albeit at the cost of less live interaction and discussion. In situ classes will have priority in 2020-2021, although some hybrid form of teaching may be introduced if need be. A full switch to remote on-line teaching will ony be decided if the circumstances absolutely require to do so.
Evaluation methods
For A. Wijffels' part of the course, the students will be provisionally assessed on the basis of their contribution to the oral report in their group (cf. supra), but the final mark will be based on their individual written submission after revision.
Other information
The course is open to exchange students from other universities. It also welcomes students from other faculties and departments.
Online resources
Depending each year on the topic of the course, all reading material for Wijffels' part of the course will be provided through Moodle. Additional material for the group presentation and  the written paper may be sought in different locations (e.g. libraries and internet).
  • SIte Moodle du cours Moodle Site
Teaching materials
  • SIte Moodle du cours Moodle Site
Faculty or entity

Programmes / formations proposant cette unité d'enseignement (UE)

Title of the programme
Learning outcomes
Master [120] in Law

Master [120] in Law (shift schedule)

Master [120] in History

Master [60] in History