Legal Systems of Asia and Africa II

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Final Year
Term 2
Module code
FHEQ Level
School of Law

Module overview

This module builds on Introduction to Law in Asia and Africa 1 which introduces students to the study of the traditional and modern legal systems of Asian and African countries.

The module distinguishes and analyses legal systems by reference to the political dispensations in which they exist and which they may play a role in constituting. Instrumental uses of law and the role of lawyers in authoritarian and other types of legal systems are explored and analysed by reference to selected country case studies from within the SOAS mandate region. Finally, the efforts of States to (re)build fragile legal systems in the aftermath of periods of conflict and repression and to establish the rule of law are analysed using selected Asian and African case studies. The role of international law and its interaction with these domestic and regional efforts is also explored.

This is dynamic module aims to make the most of the regional research expertise of our colleagues at the School of Law, Gender and Media by regularly inviting them to offer case studies. This ensures that the case studies are regularly changed and updated and allow us to explore some of the topical legal issues in the SOAS mandate region.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

LO1) Demonstrate a clear understanding of the nature and practice of Asian and African Legal Systems
LO2) Demonstrate a clear understanding of the relationship between the different sources of the law and State law
LO3) Critically understand and appreciate the different sources of legal authority
LO4) Utilise relevant materials and information on international, regional and domestic systems
LO5) Synthesise and critically assess the domestic law and particular State law
LO6) Conduct independent legal research into different legal systems and their relationship to one another
LO7) Communicate complex ideas and concepts in written and oral form


  • Lectures: 2 hours per week
  • Seminars: 1 hour per week
  • Independent study: 120 hours (over 10 weeks)

Scope and syllabus

  • What is law (revisited)?
  • Law, Oppression and Emancipation, Case Study I: The Apartheid Legal Order in South Africa, 1948-1994 (note that case studies are indicative and may vary from year to year)
  • Law, Oppression and Emancipation, Case Study II: Pakistan-Constitutional Breakdown, Military Rule and Islamisation
  • Law, Oppression and Emancipation, Case Study III: Palestine: Law and Resistance under Occupation
  • Law, Oppression and Emancipation, Case Study IV: Thailand
  • Law, Oppression and Emancipation, Case Study V: South Africa: From Apartheid to Constitutionalism
  • Legal Systems after Conflict and Repression, Case Study: Traditional Courts and Democracy in South Africa
  • Legal Systems after Conflict and Repression, Case Study: Dealing with past human rights abuses, Case Study: South Africa after Apartheid
  • Legal Systems after Conflict and Repression, Case Study: Transitional justice in Rwanda after Genocide
  • International Law and Domestic Legal Systems, Case Study: The International Criminal Court


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.