SOAS University of London

School of Law

Law, Rights and Society in Taiwan

Module Code:
Taught in:
Term 2

This module introduces law and non-law students to the ever-changing relationship between law and society in Taiwan. Since 1895, the island of Taiwan has been a colonial and post-colonial province, as well as the site of a three decade long transition from single-party authoritarianism to democratic rule. During each of these phases and transitions, the relationships between law, legal institutions and the rights of individuals and groups have undergone significant changes. The module begins with an overview of the Taiwanese legal system and proceeds each week to examine the presence, enforcement, and/or infringement of different individual and collective rights within the political, social, legal and economic context of particular periods of transition.

Topics may include, but are not limited to: civil and political rights under Japanese colonial rule, law and religious freedom, indigenous rights debates, political freedom and martial law, democratisation and constitutional rights, gender and law, international human rights and domestic law, and legal regulation of Chinese-Taiwanese citizen interaction.    

Prior knowledge of Chinese language and/or Taiwanese law is not required; however, students will be required to learn some basic legal terms and phrases. This module will be of interest to students of East Asian law, human rights law, and international law, as well as those studying politics, postcolonialism, Chinese studies, and Taiwanese studies.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • Demonstrate an advanced understanding of the structure of Taiwan's Legal system
  • Assess critically different sources of law which inform the practice of law in Taiwan
  • Construct coherent arguments related to the development of Taiwanese law
  • Compare colonial and post-colonial Taiwanese legal developments and their implications for individual rights
  • Compare authoritarian and post-authoritarian Taiwanese legal developments and their implications for individual rights
  • Assess critically the legal dimensions of specific rights enshrined in the constitution as well as various international covenentions applicible in Taiwan


Method of assessment

  • Coursework: 100% (4000 words)

Suggested reading

  • Chang W-C, ‘Courts and Judicial Reform in Taiwan: Gradual Transformations towards the Guardian of Constitutionalism and Rule of Law’ in Wen-Chen Chang and Jiunn-rong Yeh (eds), Asian Courts in Context (Cambridge University Press 2015)
  • Copper JF, Taiwan: Nation-State or Province? (6th edn, Westview Press 2013)
  • Fell D, Government and Politics in Taiwan (2nd edn, Routledge 2012)
  • Wang T, Legal Reform in Taiwan Under Japanese Colonial Rule, 1895-1945: The Reception of Western Law (University of Washington Press 2000)



Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules