Postgraduate course

Comparing Legal Cultures in Europe

  • ECTS credits10
  • Teaching semesterSpring
  • Course codeJUS290-2-A
  • Number of semesters1
  • LanguageEnglish.
  • Resources

Level of Study

Master level course.

Semester of Instruction


Place of Instruction

Bergen Law Faculty.

Objectives and Content

A comparative and historical analysis of the contemporary Scots, English, German and Norwegian legal cultures.

The objective of the course is to give students a better understanding for the legal cultural differences regarding the three main legal traditions in Europe ¿ the common law, civil-law and mixed legal systems. Highlighting these differences by analyzing four jurisdictions (Germany, England, Scotland and Norway) will enable the students to identify and understand legal cultural differences and their origins and impact, and to provide a frame of reference for analysis of their home jurisdiction.

By looking at the development of each legal culture we can find out how legal cultures can be shaped and adapt to changes in society. This is especially relevant for current debates concerning the globalization of law, EU-skepticism and other questions pertaining to the harmonization of law. Attending the course will enable the students to critically analyze and actively participate in such debates both internationally and in their home countries.

Learning Outcomes

1. The principal learning outcomes of the course are to

a. enable the students to apply a legal cultural model introduced at the beginning of the course in order to

b. identify similarities and differences in various legal cultures in Europe and by doing so

c. compare central features in these legal cultures.

2. In addition, the students will be able to use the functional approach to legal comparative research in order to

a. describe and

b. analyse different legal traditions in Europe.

Because the lectures will highlight similarities and differences to the Norwegian Legal Culture the students will also

c. gain a better understanding of their host country¿s legal environment.

3. Regarding the three modules of the course, the students will

a. gain basic knowledge of the English, Scots and German legal cultures respectively.

Based on this knowledge they will be able to

b. observe, describe and evaluate specific institutional and intellectual features of these cultures.

Furthermore, by looking into the culture¿s legal history they will, be able to

c. acknowledge the difficulties which legal systems can face when adapting to the globalization of law.

This will contribute to making the students aware of the obstacles to the interaction between national and international law. At the same time this will enable them to discuss possible solutions but also limits for the harmonization of legal cultures in Europe.

Required Previous Knowledge

Three years of university studies.

Recommended Previous Knowledge

Three years of law studies.

Access to the Course


The course is available for the following students:

  • Admitted to the integrated master programme in law
  • Admitted to the two-year master programme in law
  • Granted admission to elective courses at the Faculty of Law
  • Granted additional right to study following completed master degree in law at UiB
  • Exchange students at the Faculty of Law

The pre-requirements may still limit certain students' access to the course

Teaching Methods and Extent of Organized Teaching

Lectures and seminars.

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

One paper 300 - 500 words, to be peer assessed by other students. This will not count towards the overall mark for the course but must be completed in order to be eligible to sit the exam.

Forms of Assessment

Five days home exam.

Exam in teaching semesters only.

Graded scale with 5 levels from A to E for passes and F for fail, see Section 3-1 no. 2, first sentence of Studieplanen for masterstudiet I rettsvitenskap ved UiB.

Exam language:

  • Question paper: English
  • Answer paper: English

Grading Scale

Graded scale with 5 levels from A to E for passes and F for fail, see Section 3-1 no. 2, first sentence of Studieplanen for masterstudiet I rettsvitenskap ved UiB.

Subject Overlap

No overlap with courses at the Bergen Law Faculty.

Combines successfully with

Introductory course for exchange students ¿ Exploring the Norwegian Legal Culture. The course is not mandatory, however a good preparation for this course as it is based on the same operationalised concept of legal culture as JUS290-2-A.

In addition

JUS281-2-A Comparative Constitutional Law

JUS292-2-A Introduction to Chinese Law

JUS276-2-A Human Rights Law: Special Focus on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Assessment Semester


Resit reserved for students who have completed the formative assessment (i.e. essay and peer review process).

Course Evaluation

According to faculty routines.


Contact Information

Administrative contact: elective.courses@jurfa.uib.no

Course leader: Professor Søren Koch

Subject lecturers: Andrew Simpson, Adelyn Wilson and Søren Koch