LL4Y9      Half Unit
Comparative and Transnational Law

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Jacco Bomhoff


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.

Students from other departments are allowed to apply with permission of the Course Convener. 

This course has a limited number of places and we cannot guarantee all students will get a place.

Course content

This course covers both the comparison of law and legal institutions from different legal systems and traditions (comparative law), and the study of forms of legal regulation beyond the state (transnational law). For each these two fields, topics for discussion are selected based on their relation to one or both of two broad themes: First, the connections between law and its surroundings (culture, society, and economy); and second, the character of ‘law’ generally (as a form of reasoning, or a set of institutional arrangements, or a distinctive ‘worldview’). Studying these two classic themes across of a range different national- and transnational settings allows us to ask a series of more concrete questions, such as: "Why are courts in some legal systems more powerful or more trusted than courts in other systems?"; "Why do some countries send far more people to prison than others?”; ”Is it possible for a lawyer from one legal system to really understand what law means or how law works in some other system; or for a legal doctrine from one system to be ‘transplanted’ to another?”; and: "How is 'law' in non-state contexts similar to and different from state law?".

The course combines attention to theory (social- and cultural theory, theories of comparison, and of the transnationalisation of law) with detailed 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 and judges think, in different parts of the world.


This course will have two hours of teaching content each week in Winter Term. There will be a Reading Week in Week 6 of Winter Term.

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

-Mathias Siems, Comparative Law (Cambridge, 3rd edn, 2022)

-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, 2nd edn, 2019)


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours, reading time: 15 minutes) in the spring exam period.

Key facts

Department: Law School

Total students 2022/23: Unavailable

Average class size 2022/23: Unavailable

Controlled access 2022/23: No

Value: Half 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

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