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Rechtswissenschaftliche Fakultät Lehrstuhl Liebrecht

Modern Times. Legal History of Modern Europe

Modern Times

Course Number: 2559

Times: Thursday, 12:15-13:45  For information on the dates please see OLAT and the course catalog below.

Room: KOL-G-209

Lecture "Modern Times. Legal History of Modern Europe" in the Master's Degree Program:Course Catalog

The lecture is accompanied by OLAT. Course material and further information will be provided there.


The course can also be followed on podcast. The podcasts will be made available in OLAT after each course date.

The Western concept of constitution and law is under pressure. The tenets of modern law, freedom and liberalism, seem self-evident to us, but they are increasingly being called into question - by authoritarian regimes from outside, but also by several political movements from within. Indeed, it seems as if liberalism has been, and is, the common denominator of an era. It represents a crucial feature of modernity that can thus be found in many fields of law. To the student, the different fields of today’s law usually appear to be completely disparate and disconnected, but they do in fact bear the signature of an age.

This course will focus on exactly that signature by providing you with an account of some of the most relevant lines of development within Europe’s legal history of, roughly speaking, the last 200 years. After all, the legal history of modernity is the immediate prehistory of our present time. Hence, we will combine legal history with an assessment of today’s legal culture. Modern Times is an invitation for all students wishing to better understand and survey our current law, it is designed to engage in discussions and actively participate with their own contributions and questions.

In contrast to the Master-Vorlesung Rechtsgeschichte der bürgerlichen Moderne (which is delivered in German), the course will not adopt Switzerland as its starting point. Instead, it will trace the legal developments in Europe from the French revolution onwards, thereby providing you with a general comparative framework. It is open to Swiss students (both students at the UZH and those doing a Joint Degree) as well as students from abroad who are spending part of their studies at the University of Zurich (e.g. Double Degree and Master Program students). Students do not need to fulfil any particular preconditions for attending this course, nor will they be expected to have attended legal history courses before. The only prerequisite is curiosity.