LL4Y9      Half Unit
Comparative and Transnational Law

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Jacco Bomhoff NAB 6.09


This course is available on the LLM (extended part-time), LLM (full-time) and University of Pennsylvania Law School LLM Visiting Students. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course is capped at 30 students. Students must apply through Graduate Course Choice on LSEforYou. Students from other Departments are allowed to apply with permission of the course convener. 

Course content

This course looks at three related themes: (1) approaches to comparing laws and legal institutions from different legal systems and traditions (comparative law); (2) understanding legal regulation beyond the state (transnational law); and (3) ideas about what it is that makes legal phenomena 'legal' (legalism). Combining these three elements allows to ask questions like: "Why are courts in some legal systems more powerful or more trusted than courts in other systems?"; "Why do people go to court more often in some countries than in others?"; "Why do some countries send far more people to prison than others?"; "How is 'law' in non-state contexts similar to and different from state law?"; "How did lawyers come to be such powerful actors in organizations like the European Union?"; "What sorts of problems of 'translation' can arise when lawyers from one country look at law in another country?"; "What might happen when forms of 'Western' law are transplanted to other parts of the world?".

The course combines attention to theory - theories of legal comparisons, and of the 'transnationalization of law', in particular - with detailed practical case studies in selected areas from different fields of law (comparative constitutional law, comparative private law, comparative criminal justice, EU law; and commercial arbitration, among others). The course might be especially interesting for students already taking other courses with a comparative- or a transnational law dimension, and for all students interested in the ways law works and does not work, and in how lawyers think, in different parts of the world.  



20 hours of seminars in the LT. 2 hours of seminars in the ST.

There will be a Reading Week in Week 6.

Formative coursework

All students are expected to produce one 2,000 word formative essay during the course. This essay is due in Week 7.

Indicative reading

-Adams, Maurice & Bomhoff, Jacco, Practice and Theory in Comparative Law (Cambridge, 2013)

-Cotterrell, Roger, What is Transnational Law?, LAW & SOCIAL INQUIRY (2012)

-Frankenberg, Gunther, Critical Comparisons: Re-thinking Comparative Law, 26 HARVARD INTERNATIONAL LAW JOURNAL (1985)

-Pirie, Fernanda, The Anthropology of Law (Oxford, 2013)

-Reimann, Mathias and Zimmermann, Reinhard, The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Law (Oxford, 2006)

-Ruskola, Teemu, Legal Orientalism (Harvard, 2013)

-Shaffer, Greg, Theorizing Transnational Legal Ordering, ANNUAL REVIEW OF LAW AND SOCIAL SCIENCE (2016)

-Special Issue: 'Comparative Socio-Legal Studies', INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF LAW IN CONTEXT (2017)


Take home exam (100%) in the ST.

The take home exam will consist of 2 essay questions (out of 6 set), each with a 3000 word limit. Students will be given their exam questions at 9:00 am on Wednesday morning of Week 1 Summer Term, via Moodle, and will have until 5:00 pm on Thursday afternoon of Week 2 Summer Term to submit the exam. The length of time set for this assessment already takes into account that students may also have one or more other exams during this period.

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2018/19: 22

Average class size 2018/19: 23

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication