Roman Law (LAWS5160)


The course provides a general introduction to all aspects of Roman private law. It begins with an historical sketch of Roman institutions from the earliest times until the reign of Justinian (CE 527-565), together with an introduction to Roman legal history and the development of Roman legal concepts. It also deals with the reception of Roman jurisprudence into modern European legal systems and the common law. The Roman law of marriage and family, moveable and immoveable property, real and personal security, succession, and contractual, quasi-contractual and delictal obligations are then dealt with in depth. The Institutes of Justinian, in English, is the fundamental text for study and students are expected to read the Institutes in some detail. The Institutes constitute a map of the law and means of ordering the law. Roman law has always been, and still is, of great historical importance in the development of many areas of the common law. Roman law also provides a yardstick by which both the virtues and the shortcomings of the common law can be measured. Further, Roman law forms the jurisprudential background of most of the legal systems in force in continental Europe and those parts of the rest of the world that were colonised by continental European nations.

Our courses that offer this unit of study

Further unit of study information


2x2-hr seminars/week for 10 weeks


2,000wd essay (20%) and take-home exam (80%)

Faculty/department permission required?


Unit of study rules


LAWS3052 or LAWS3460

Study this unit outside a degree

Non-award/non-degree study

If you wish to undertake one or more units of study (subjects) for your own interest but not towards a degree, you may enrol in single units as a non-award student.

Cross-institutional study

If you are from another Australian tertiary institution you may be permitted to underake cross-institutional study in one or more units of study at the University of Sydney.