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Legal Systems of Africa and Asia

Duration: Three Weeks


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Start of programme: Monday 30 June 2014

Mode of Attendance: Full Time

This course offers in part one a theoretically focused introduction to the methodologies of transnational law and legal pluralism and then applies these methods in parts two and three to a comparative study of major traditional and modern laws and legal systems of Asia and Africa. The discussions are placed in the wider context of today’s globalised understandings of how different types of normative ordering interact. The course covers mainly Hindu and Muslim laws and also offers introductions to Chinese law and much material on various African laws. There will be practical exercises throughout and active student participation is expected. Working with material from a number of jurisdictions will help students to gain insights into how these legal systems operate differently from Western legal systems in a broader transnational context.

This course can be used as a chance to test if law may be a suitable field of further study for the student; a unique opportunity to learn about a selection of traditional and modern legal systems of Asia and Africa; or a general introduction to theories and methodologies of comparative law in a global context and different ways of formal and informal dispute settlement.


Monday 30 June - Friday 18 July 2014

Social Programme

You will also be able to enjoy our social programme, starting with a welcome party and a river cruise on the Thames. A guided tour of historical Bloomsbury where SOAS is situated will help you find your way around the campus area. You will also receive discount codes for day trips and overnight tours with our partner International Friends once you have registered for one of our courses.

Further details: www.internationalfriends.co.uk Summer School students are also welcome to attend the wealth of activities hosted by the SOAS Students Union in the summer months.



An early bird discount of 10% is available if fees are paid by 15 April 2014.
10% discount for SOAS Alumni.
20% discount for current SOAS students.
Other discounts are available for partner institutions and groups, please email summerschool@soas.ac.uk for further information.


A tuition fee of £1250 will be charged per 3 week programme. This figure does not include accommodation fees.


A limited number of rooms will be available at International Hall which is located in the heart of Bloomsbury. You will be able to request a place once your application has been approved. The cost for 20 nights from 30 June - 19 July (inclusive) is £800, which includes breakfast every day. Please email summerschool@soas.ac.uk to reserve place.

Application fee

A one-off, non-refundable application fee of £55 will be charged to cover administration costs. Please visit the SOAS online store to make your application fee payment, once you have submitted your summer school application.


Students are usually able to obtain credits from their home institution and generally our courses receive 3 credits in the US system and 7.5 ECTS in the European system. However the summer courses remain non-accredited by SOAS. If you intend to claim credits from your home institution, please check the requirements with them before you enrol.

We will be happy to assist you in any way we can, however please be aware that the decision to award credits rests with your home institution.

Assessment will be optional and will vary for each course. Participants will be provided with a certificate of attendance and transcripts will be available on request.


For more information, please email Sophie Dilley at summerschool@soas.ac.uk.


This course of interactive seminars rather than lectures is designed to introduce students from a variety of backgrounds to understanding and appreciating the critical role of legal theory and its connection to practice. The discussions are placed in the wider context of today’s globalised understandings of how different types of normative ordering interact.

The course will be delivered Monday - Thursday over the 3 weeks, in a combination of lectures, tutorials and class visits.

Week 1: Legal theories and their application and interaction

  • Transnational law and legal pluralism:  Concepts, theories and implications
  • Natural law and legal positivism
  • Socio-legal theories and international law/human rights

Week 2: Introductions and overviews of major legal systems of Asia and Africa

  • Hindu law and Muslim law
  • Chinese law, and some South East Asian laws
  • The legal systems of Africa

Week 3: State regulation and dispute settlement in plural Asian/African legal systems 

  • Indian legal management strategies and conflict issues
  • Pakistani and Bangladeshi law: more than law and religion
  • Southern African laws: Rainbow nations, human rights and conflicts of laws

Assessment: is optional and will be in the form of a 2000-2500 word essay to be handed in 2 weeks after the end of the course.

Teaching & Learning

Teaching & Learning

On successful completion of the course, a student should be able to demonstrate:

  • An understanding of different types of legal theory, including the concepts of transnational law and legal pluralism, and their development and interaction in specific historical and regional contexts.
  • Ability to analyse the practical application of these theories and formal and informal methods of dispute settlement in a variety of legal and socio-cultural contexts.
  • Insight into major legal traditions of Asia and Africa, the development of those traditions prior to contact with the West, and selected modern developments in some legal systems of Asia and Africa.

How to Apply

In order to join our Summer School, you will need to meet the following entry requirements:

  • A minimum English language requirement if English is not your first language:
    • IELTS (www.ielts.org), 7 overall or higher, with at least 6.5 in all subscores.
    • iBT 105+ with 22 in all subscores or 100 overall with no less than 25 in writing and no less than 22 in any other subscores.
    • Or equivalent.

Summer School Application Form (pdf; 779kb)

Application deadline for the summer school courses is 31 May 2014.