Law and Society in The Middle East and North Africa

Key information

Start date
End date
Term 1
Module code
FHEQ Level
School of Law, Gender and Media

Module overview

The module examines the substantive bodies of law and procedure and the legal systems in operation in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region in modern times, including in their relationship with regional and international normative systems.

Through the consideration of a number of paradigmatic legal systems, the module provides a comparative legal perspective on the MENA region. It focusses on a number of themes in law and society and examines how certain areas of social/economic relations are regulated by particular bodies of law, attempting to explain how these bodies of law have arisen and assessing the policy considerations involved in the choices made by national legislatures in this regard. The themes are chosen to include consideration of the extent and implications of state formulations of legal pluralism, and attention is given to the engines of legal reform, to legal realities and to court practice.

Case studies are presented and considered with the intention of setting some of these themes into the context of a particular state’s legal system in the MENA region.

Objectives and learning outcomes

At the end of the module students will:

  • have an understanding of and be equipped to provide primary analysis and research in general patterns in law and legal systems in countries of the MENA region
  • understand the comparative bases of legal history, constitutional law, and civil law in the MENA region
  • understand the role of the courts and judicial precedent in the legal systems of the MENA region
  • understand patterns of customary law and non-state dispute resolution in the region
  • be able to critically assess the materials and themes explored in the module
  • have a reasonable familiarity with Middle East and North African legal materials available in English and likewise with key English language scholarship on the areas under consideration in the module


  • Weekly 2-hour seminar

Scope and syllabus

History and theories of law and legal systems in the region; role of the Sharia; civil law, customary law, constitutional law, the role of courts.

Method of assessment

  • Essay: 90% (4000 words)
  • Presentation: 10%


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.