Roman Law (Delict - FHS)

The Roman law option focuses on set texts from the Institutes and Digest. Its primary aim is to understand those texts and the ideas and methods of the great Roman jurists who wrote them. The secondary aim is, by comparison, to throw light on the law of our own time. It caters for the interests of those who are interested in making use of their classical background or of developing the knowledge of Roman law they have acquired by taking the ‘A Roman Introduction to Private Law’ course in Law Moderations, although it is not essential to have done the Moderations Roman law course. It allows students to study in some detail the outlook and methods of reasoning of the classical jurists, who provide the models on which professional legal argument has ever since been based. In practice, this will lead to discussion of fundamentals of the law of delicts/torts, aided by comparisons with English cases.

The lectures are based, so far as the Roman law is concerned, on the set texts, in English translation. Indeed, one of the advantages of this course from the point of view of students is that the body of relevant texts and other authoritative material is more limited than it is in most, perhaps all, the other options. It is possible to concentrate on detail. In the examination, candidates are required to comment on selections from the set translated texts and on questions regarding the literature provided in relation to the texts. Knowledge of Latin is not required or necessary; sensitivity for philological dimensions of the original texts, where relevant, is. Much literature will quote Latin phrases but in practice this should not cause problems; for sources on the reading list, translations are provided either in the sources or separately.

By its nature, this course attracts and is suitable for only small numbers. This fact tends to dissolve the distinction between tutorials and lectures. However, it remains true that the backbone of the course is an exposition of the set texts, supported by further lectures on associated topics.

Learning outcomes: an understanding of the concepts of Roman law and of the ideas and methods of classical jurists, and a capacity to reflect on their influence on English common law.