Course Overview

 MLitt in Legal and Constitutional Studies

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Combining historical and contemporary approaches within one unique, cross-disciplinary, degree, the MLitt in Legal and Constitutional Studies introduces students to a dynamic and expanding field of research.  This degree enables students to pursue an exciting programme of study, through a combination of research-led taught classes and directed individual study.

The core modules are taught by faculty from across the Schools of History, International Relations and beyond. They equip students with knowledge of different theoretical approaches to law, legal history and constitutionalism, using the past to interrogate and investigate current issues and controversies. The core modules also provide students with the practical skills and approaches to undertake comparative study of aspects of law, legal history and constitutionalism.

The specialist modules are designed to be flexible enough to enable students to choose their own areas of in-depth study and include individually tailored research training and guidance. Students will be taught through a range of group seminars, workshops, one-to-one discussion and supervised independent research projects. The University of St Andrews also offers additional language teaching that is open to students at all levels of ability, including courses in Arabic and Mandarin.

The degree caters for students from different academic backgrounds and with diverse career plans. It is designed to prepare students for work beyond the MLitt: doctoral research within the field; study for a Law degree; and employment in areas more broadly related to law, legal history, global constitutionalism and international relations.

The MLitt draws on the long established, internationally recognised, teaching and research strengths of the Schools of History and International Relations. Both Schools received top-rankings within the 2014 Research Excellence Framework and within national student surveys.

The research interests of faculty teaching on the MLitt range from late antiquity to the present, with expertise that encompasses innovative global and cosmopolitan approaches, alongside more traditional legal and jurisprudential methodologies. All teaching is undertaken by experts who are actively engaged in legal, constitutional and historical studies.

Applications can be made here: https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/study/pg/taught-programmes/legal-studies/

Course Outline

Students can construct an individually tailored degree with a primary focus in legal history; OR a primary focus in global/international law; OR they can pursue an integrated, interdisciplinary, degree.

Programme structure:

The MLitt degree includes two semesters of full-time (or four semesters part-time) study of taught modules. In semester 1, students take the compulsory module “The Idea of Law” and either “Approaches to Legal History” or “The Philosophy of International law”. In addition, in Semester 1 students choose one further module: either “Special Topic in Legal and Constitutional Studies 1″, or ” Sources and Sources Criticism”, or ” Latin for Mediaeval Studies”.

In Semester 2, students take the compulsory module “Comparative Studies in Legal and Constitutional Research”, which builds directly on the Semester 1 courses. Students also pursue an individually tailored course of directed study: “Special Topic in Legal and Constitutional Studies 2” and choose one further module: either “Comparative Studies in Legal History” or ” Global Constitutionalism”.

All students who successfully complete the coursework to the required level will continue on to the Masters dissertation, a 15.000 word piece of research completed under the guidance of an expert supervisor, leading finally to the award of the MLitt degree.

Semester 1:

Compulsory module:

The Idea of Law

This core module offers a distinctive introductory overview to the ‘Idea of Law’, introducing students to fundamental concepts, debates and frameworks relevant to law, legal history and constitutional studies. Taught in a seminar format, the module offers students a practical and theoretical foundation relevant to the overall programme, including the development of analytical skills necessary for research at masters-level. In particular, training in jurisprudential and historical thinking provides a basis for individual investigation and group discussion of a variety of relevant themes and topics: for example, law and statehood, colonialism, empire and law; law and social science; traditions within nineteenth- and twentieth-century jurisprudential thought; law in society; law and global constitutionalism.

Optional modules:

Either:

Approaches to Legal History

This module examines a range of approaches to legal history, exploring their assumptions, justifications, benefits, and limitations. It provides students with a grounding in particularly influential authors and works on the history of law, and also requires critical reflection on method.  It will provide students with a detailed knowledge of certain fundamental texts and the debates that they generated, thereby helping them to develop the skills needed to understand and evaluate the arguments presented by legal historians since the nineteenth century. Taught in a seminar format, topics include a critical evaluation of the common law tradition of legal history (Pollock, Maitland and Milsom); law and society approaches (Marx, Maine, Thompson); dispute studies (including the influence of social anthropological frameworks); and an overview of the distinction between ‘internal’ and ‘external’ approaches to legal history.

Or:

The Philosophy of International Law

This MLitt module provides fundamental training for students specializing in issues relating to International Law. It examines the underlying philosophy of International Law, including its historical origins, but focuses primarily on the ideas underlying international law. The module will explore philosophical issues arising from the nature of international law, its sources, enforcement and related issues. Taught in a seminar format, topics include natural versus positive law; the problems of sources of international law and its enforcement; states, sovereignty and people; force, responsibility and rights; global commons; and critical perspectives on post colonial / Third World law and Global law.


Either:

Special Topic in Legal and Constitutional Studies 1

This module gives students the opportunity to undertake detailed research and tuition within a specialized field of their choice. It also provides for individual or very small group supervision.

Or:

Sources and Sources Criticism

This module addresses interpretation and criticism of mediaeval sources. It concentrates upon a selected central body of documentation and its associated problems and introduces appropriate skills training. The module provides appropriate in-depth preparation for those wishing to pursue further study of mediaeval legal history

Or:

Latin for Mediaeval Studies

This module provides training in the Latin language, specifically for Mediaeval-related studies.


Semester 2:

Compulsory modules:

Comparative Studies in Legal and Constitutional Research

This core module provides a forum for students to develop, present, and write on a particular area of legal and constitutional research, drawing on theoretical and methodological ideas from Semester 1 modules. Taught in a seminar format, it is specifically designed to provide practical and focused preparation for dissertation writing. Students will receive guidance on the preparation and presentation (oral and written) of a research subject, including Masters’ level argument-construction skills.  They will then conduct research in their chosen field.  Presentations to the whole class will provide feedback not just on the particular topic, but will act as a forum for an exploration of the possibilities of comparison and comparative methodologies within legal and constitutional research.

Special Topic in Legal and Constitutional Studies 2

This module gives students the opportunity to undertake detailed research and tuition within a specialized field of their choice. It also provides for individual or very small group supervision.

Optional modules:

Either:

Comparative Studies in Legal History

Comparative Studies in Legal History provides a forum for students to develop, present, and write on a particular field or topic in legal history, drawing on methodological ideas from Semester 1 modules. Taught in a seminar format, it is specifically designed to provide practical and focused preparation for dissertation writing. Students will receive guidance on the preparation and presentation (oral and written) of a research subject, including Masters’ level argument-construction skills.  They will then conduct research in their chosen field.  Presentations to the whole class will provide feedback not just on the particular topic, but will act as a forum for an exploration of the possibilities of comparison and comparative methodologies within legal history.

Or:

Global Constitutionalism

This module provides fundamental training for students specializing in Constitutionalism. It examines a range of approaches to Global Constitutionalism, exploring their assumptions, justifications, benefits, and limitations. It draws on key thinkers in the history of legal and political thought and explores a range of issues relating to the emergence of a global constitutional order. Taught in a seminar format, topics include the history of constitutionalism (classical, medieval, early modern and modern); constituent power; the rule of law; the separation / balance of power; constitutionalism and international law; constitutionalism and international organizations; and constitutionalism and cosmopolitanism.