European Legal Traditions

Freie Universität Berlin

Course Description

  • Course Name

    European Legal Traditions

  • Host University

    Freie Universität Berlin

  • Location

    Berlin, Germany

  • Area of Study

    European Studies, Legal Studies

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Contact Hours

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    This course provides an overview of European legal traditions and developments. Its coverage ranges from the law of the Roman Empire to the attempts to create a common European legal framework with the establishment of the European Union and the Council of Europe. Special emphasis will be placed on the broader lines of legal tradition and development that have shaped the conceptualizations of law in contemporary Europe. We will start with a session focused on the leading questions: What is law and why do we need law? The course is then divided into three interrelated parts. Three sessions will encompass a brief overview of European legal history from the Roman Empire, via the Middle Ages, to modern legal thinking, and of European legal history shaped by war and peace (agreements). The next several sessions will focus on modern European legal systems, contrasting the continental (German, French) and common law (British) systems. We will also dedicate one session to an exploration of law in the Communist bloc (1945-1989) and the legal transformation processes that have occurred in these countries since 1989. During the last three sessions, we will concentrate on recent attempts to create a common European legal space through the European Union and the Council of Europe. Throughout the course, we will keep a comparative eye on the legal system of the United States. This will allow us to identify similarities and differences. The course is designed not only for future law students but also for students who are interested in European legal traditions and who wish to gain an understanding of law as a decisive factor that shapes transatlantic, international, and European affairs today.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.

ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) credits are converted to semester credits/quarter units differently among U.S. universities. Students should confirm the conversion scale used at their home university when determining credit transfer.

Availability of courses is based on enrollment numbers. All students should seek pre-approval for alternate courses in the event of last minute class cancellations