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School of Law

Modern Chinese Law and Institutions

Course Code:
Unit value:
Taught in:
Full Year

The first half of the course examines, inter alia, the principal features of the pre-Communist Chinese legal tradition, the impact on law of thirty years of Maoist rule, the post-Mao Chinese leadership's changing policies toward law, constitutional law and governmental structure, elections, sources of law and law enforcement and dispute resolution institutions and their personnel.

The second part considers the policies and laws in respect of crime, marriage, family, adoption, as well as civil law (in outline, but including general principles, contract, and succession)., and legal protection of the socially disadvantaged.

The course presumes no prior knowledge of Chinese language, but students will be expected to familiarise themselves with Chinese legal terms.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

This course examines the laws and institutions of modern China, especially as found in the People's Republic of China in the period since 1979 when a major programme of legal reform and institutional building was initiated. Throughout the course, attention is given to key issues and areas of reform. In the first part of the course, students will examine China's distinctive hierarchy of legislation, the relationship between legal and policy norms, the discretion given to institutions authorised to interpret and implement the law, regional and local government and control, autonomy of legal professionals, the scope of judicial review, openness and accountability of government, and dispute resolution. In the second part. Students examine the criminal justice system (including police powers), family and population issues, key features of civil law, and human rights and legal protection of the socially disadvantaged.

Method of assessment

Assessment weighting: 70% unseen examination and 30% coursework (one essay of 5,000 words). All coursework may be resubmitted.