European Legal History

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Umberto-Igor Stramignoni NAB 7.34


This course is available on the BA in Anthropology and Law and LLB in Laws. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

This course seeks to explore some of the relations and processes that gave origins to the law of Western Europe.

The course opens with the emergence of a certain kind of “law” in and around Rome circa 8th century BCE. It then turns to law’s subsequent developments as they made the Roman world possible, but also as they related to each other over time. As the ancient world wanes, and is replaced by the extraordinary and expansive world of Christianity, Roman law takes on new and different configurations. Things will shift again during the Italian Renaissance, Northern Humanism, and European Enlightenment, and with the French Revolution of 1789, leading up to the first major codification of law to take place in modern Europe.


This course will have a minimum of two hours of teaching content each week in Michaelmas Term and Lent Term. This course includes a reading week in Weeks 6 of Michaelmas Term and Lent Term.

Formative coursework

At least one formative (unassessed) essay per term.

Indicative reading

There is no single textbook for this course. Instead, students will be required to familiarize themselves with the content of a mixture of visual aids (designed specifically for this course by Dr Stramignoni) and of written texts, including a selection of chapters from a range of different books and shorter articles from a variety of scientific journals suggesting different philosophical, historical, anthropological, cultural, and other approaches to the past of the law in Europe. Those thinking to take this course are encouraged to explore the course Moodle page for more information or contact the course convenor directly.


Assessment path 1
Open-book exam (100%, duration: 3.5 hours) in the summer exam period.

Assessment path 2
Dissertation (100%, 12000 words) in the ST.

The essay will be on a topic to be agreed with Dr Stramignoni by the end of the Michaelmas Term. Please note: if you elect to be assessed by essay you are still expected to attend and actively participate to all lectures and seminars.

Key facts

Department: Law School

Total students 2021/22: 15

Average class size 2021/22: 8

Capped 2021/22: Yes (30)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills