Modern and Contemporary Legal History

Concepts and Construction of the Social Order (VL-Nr. 2309)


Spring Semester, Wednesday 12.15-13.45 (from 22.02.2017 to 31.05.2017 please notice deviations)

Language of the course


Office hours for students

Every Tuesday from 16.00 to 18.00 (room RAI-H-097)

Students who cannot come in these hours should write an email asking for an appointment.

Previous knowledge expected from students

Basic knowledge on legal history (level of BLaw UZH).

Content of the course

The course will focus the attention on the 16th to the 20th centuries, scrutinizing the «modern» development of State’s theories and the creation of the international law system; the complex and contradictory relations between violence and law, between war and law, between race and law, between (in)equality of man and law and finally between economy and law. The course will outline and analyse the legal consequence of entanglements, interactions, collisions of law and relate this to the nature and construction of the social order from a historical perspective.

Reading of primary sources combined together with a critical reconstruction on law and jurists in their context will be done during the course.

Aim of the course and learning outcomes

After the successful completion of this course the student is able to understand social and cultural mechanisms of law in their historical contexts; to comprehend and critically explicate the ways in which law structures state systems and operates within international systems and what this means in legal terms; to understand, discuss and explain how some concepts become «legal», and their fundamental changes from a historical perspective.


  • Marcel Senn / Lukas Gschwend, Rechtsgeschichte II – Juristische Zeitgeschichte, Zürich/Basel/Genf, 3. Auflage 2010, limited to: Introduction/Einführung and Kapitel 1 (p. 1-48); Kapitel III (p. 73-112); Kapitel  IV (p. 113-148); Kapitel VI (p. 187-227).
  • Additional sources and related materials will be distributed during the lessons and uploaded together with the slides. Please find slides and related material in OLAT