JUR9031 – Perspectives on legal history, sociology of law and law & economics

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Course content

Increasingly, research on dogmatic legal issues require multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches in addition to the traditional theoretical and methodological toolbox of doctrinal legal scholarship. The aim of the course is to focus on central thematic, theoretical and methodological issues in legal history, sociology of law and law and economics. These disciplines offer exeternal perspectives on law as a normative entity: its historical evolution,  the role and relevance of law in contemporary society; and the linkage to forms of economic rationality.

  • The first part of the course covers legal history. The starting point is the assumption that theoretical and methodological knowledge about notions of temporality  and chronology represent a fruitful dimension of any academic project.  The participants will obtain a greater understanding of how interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary collaborations  with legal historians can enhance their own research.


  • The second part of the course concerns sociology of law. The course introduces participants to the following theoretical concepts and debates in contemporary sociology of law: Law and social change; power and litigation; semi-autonomous fields; Legal consciousness; Legal pluralism  and contemporary debates on the datafication and quantification of law.  The aim is to help the participants reflect critically on rule of law debates as well as to understand the potential and limitations of using law as a tool for social change.  Participants will also gain a critical understanding of the implications of the way contributions to the sociology of law have been based on Western, industrialized democracies, and the implications for current debates in the field of legal sociology. The participants will also obtain a greater understanding of how interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary collaborations  with legal sociologists can enhance their own research.


  • The third part of the course examines law and economics. The general idea is to introduce the PhD candidates to behavioral and comparative approaches to law and economics, especially from European perspectives. Throught this they are familiarized to the challenges of US based classical economics and law and economics and how they could be answered, with a special focus on the European context.

Learning outcome

The course will provide:

  • The ability to historically contextualize the various thematic subfields of contemporary doctrinal law.
  • A conceptual framework for analyzing and  critically reflecting on law’s societal role and relevance.
  • An understanding of the relationship between legal and economic models and systems, and concepts for reflecting on legal norms through the prism of economic rationality.
  • An overview of central theoretical and methodological questions and debates in legal history, sociology of law and law and economics, and to be able to situate these within the broader field of law as an academic discipline.
  • The ability to reflect on the epistemological challenges as well as challenges related to research methods and strategies raised by these theories and methodological issues.


The course is compulsory for all PhD candidates at the Faculty of Law and they will be given priority. Research assistants writing a 60 student point masters thesis are also given priority.
In case there are open places, other candidates admitted to a PhD program may apply to take the course.


Teaching is structured in lectures and seminars, where participation is obligatory. Discussion and engagement by research fellows is strongly recommended. Research fellows obtain knowledge and competences as outlined above by individual studies of course literature and other course material, and by taking active part at the lectures and seminars.


The course gives 4 study points based on an evaluation of participation at the lectures and seminars as well as the research essay.

In addition to obligatory participation in the seminars, students write and submit the following texts:

  • In advance of the seminar:  brief (1 page) description of the ph.d. project and its main research question (details will be given on the semester page)
  • After the seminar:  Accepted essay (5 – 10 pages),  written and submitted according to Retningslinjer skriving og godkjenning av essay. The essay will be accepted only when engaging clearly with course readings and discussions.

Facts about this course






Every autumn


Every autumn

Teaching language

Even years: English

Odd years: Norwegian