2832.19 - Legal Understanding

Course number
Legal Understanding
Upper secondary education or the equivalent.
To provide insight into evolving understandings and ideas in the theory of legal interpretation, legal sources, and jurisprudence. The course is intended for law students in addition to others interested in philosophy and politics.
The course emphasizes the theory of legal sources and interpretation, especially in hard cases, and different tendencies in legal philosophy, including how these influence practice in various periods, forums and contexts. The course will cover i.a. these topics: - What is legal philosophy, and what is the difference between legal philosophy and jurisprudence? - The theory of legal norms, especially the difference between rules, standards and principles. - Description of traditional legal sources. - Theory and practice of legal interpretation. - The difference between – and the preconditions for the development of – customary law and enacted law. - Legal argumentation and rhetoric. - Natural law and legal positivism. - Pragmatism. - Realism. - Hard cases. - The difference between interpretation and construction.
Learning and teaching approaches
Around 60 hours. The teaching will be mainly organised as lectures and exercises.
Learning outcomes
The students shall: - Describe important trends in legal philosophy and jurisprudence. - Describe the relevant methods and challenges of interpretation that reflect the different periods, trends and developments. - Describe the importance of varying legal understanding to citizen, administrators, government, parliament, courts and other institutions, including municipal, federal and international. - Demonstrate an understanding of the implications for adjudication that follow from the fact that legal norms differ between rules, standards and principles. - Present and pursue arguments with an understanding of the practical importance of the diverse understandings, trends and practices. - Present and formulate knowledge and arguments professionally and eloquently marked by clear organisation and context.
Assessment method
A 4 hour written exam accounts for 2/3 of the grade, while a written home assignment counts for 1/3. It is a precondition for the final exam that the student has passed the home assignment, assessed as an independent performance. At the final exam, the student will have access to the internet and all course materials.
Marking scale
Bárður Larsen: Materials – available online on the Moodle network. Required reading is between 600 and 700 pages. The reading list covers i.a. court cases, articles and bookchapters from these authors: H.L.A. Hart, Lon L. Fuller, Ronald Dworkin, Frederick Schauer, Brian Z. Tamanaha, Sverre Blandhol, Lawrence B. Solum, Peter Høilund and Henrik Zahle.
Bárður Larsen