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Regular version of the site


Academic Year
Instruction in English
ECTS credits
Course type:
Compulsory course
1 year, 1, 2 module


Course Syllabus


This program outlines the contents of the course and describes the learning outcomes obtained upon completion of the course. It also sets pre-requisites for taking the course, explains the grading policy, includes requirements for essay writing and the final exam. The program is designed for instructors teaching the course, teaching assistants and undergraduate students enrolled on the joint HSE and University of London Parallel Degree Programme in Management and Digital Innovation (educational track 38.03.05 “Business Informatics”, Bachelor's level).
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • The purpose of the course "Introduction to Law" is to give an idea of the origin of the common (English and American) law, its sources and foundations, the foundations of the constitutional system, federalism, legal education and legal practice, peculiarities of the legal culture of Americans and Englishmen, the state of English and American law. This course will provide an introductory insight to the common law system, variations of which are used in countries that are home to 2.3 billion people worldwide. The course will introduce key legal doctrines and principles in readily accessible formats and language. Case studies will illuminate common applications of the law in real life scenarios, enabling you to explore the relevance of specific subjects to your own professional and personal circumstances, and legal jurisdiction. The course is taught in English.
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • • locate and apply relevant regulatory requirements; • identify, research, articulate and apply the legal principles relevant to your professional and personal life; • communicate effectively about legal principles, rights and responsibilities; • anticipate and mitigate legal risk and problems arising in your professional and personal life.
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Foundations of Law
    What is Law? The main question that must be answered in any introduction to law deals with the nature of law. The law is multifaceted, and arguably it has been in flux over the years. In the digital age of globalization, it is changing at high speed. It is therefore not possible to give a short definition of law from the outset. What is possible, however, is to mention a few characteristics of law. The majority of legal phenomena shares most of these characteristics, but not all legal phenomena share all of them.
  • Sources of Law
    The question whether a particular rule is also a legal rule can have a large practical importance because the answer may determine whether the rule will be enforced by state organs. Lawyers have developed a number of standards to determine whether a rule has the status of law, and these standards are known as the sources of law. In this class, we will take a closer look at these sources of law. More particularly, we will address the following questions: what is a source of law, and which sources of law are recognized.
  • . Basic Concepts of Law: Common law and Civil law systems
    Law is not a homogeneous body of rules. In fact, it consists of many “fields of law” such as property law, constitutional law, international law, and criminal law. Legal systems in countries around the world generally fall into one of two main categories: common law systems and civil law systems. There are roughly 150 countries that have what can be described as primarily civil law systems, whereas there are about 80 common law countries. The main difference between the two systems is that in common law countries, case law — in the form of published judicial opinions — is of primary importance, whereas in civil law systems, codified statutes predominate. But these divisions are not as clear-cut as they might seem. In fact, many countries use a mix of features from common and civil law systems.
  • The Law of Contract
    Modern society is unthinkable without the possibility to conclude binding contracts. Not only that contracts allow businesses to trade goods and offer services, but contracts are also used by citizens to pursue the things they are after, even if they do not always realize it. Thus, people conclude contracts when they buy products in a supermarket, rent an apartment, take out insurance, open a bank account, download software, take up a new job, are treated by their doctor, go to the hairdresser, or order tickets over the Internet to go to a Lady Gaga concert. The set of rules and principles that governs these transactions is the law of contract.
  • Property Law
    The law of property is concerned with the rights which may arise in relation to anything that can be owned. Thus, property covers land, goods and intangible rights such as debts, patents or the goodwill of a business. Property, which seems like a commonsense concept, is difficult to define in an intelligible way; philosophers have been striving to define it for the past 2,500 years. Blackstone’s famous definition is somewhat wordy: “The right of property is that sole and despotic dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in total exclusion of the right of any other individual in the universe. It consists in the free use, enjoyment, and disposal of all a person’s acquisitions, without any control or diminution save only by the laws of the land.” A more concise definition, but perhaps too broad, defines property as the “legal relationship between persons with respect to a thing.”
  • Tort Law
    In civil litigation, contract and tort claims are by far the most numerous. The law attempts to adjust for harms done by awarding damages to a successful plaintiff who demonstrates that the defendant was the cause of the plaintiff’s losses. Torts can be intentional torts, negligent torts, or strict liability torts. Employers must be aware that in many circumstances, their employees may create liability in tort. This class explains the different kind of torts, as well as available defenses to tort claims.
  • Criminal Law
    Certain kinds of wrongdoing pose such a serious threat to the good order of society that they are considered crimes against the whole community. The criminal law makes such anti-social behavior an offence against the state and offenders are liable to punishment. The state accepts responsibility for the detection, prosecution and punishment of offenders. The sanctions are so severe that the criminal law normally requires an element of moral fault on the part of the offender. Thus, the prosecution must establish two essential requirements: actus reus (prohibited act) and mens rea (guilty mind). For most criminal offences, both elements must be present to create criminal liability.
  • Constitutional Law
    The law is strongly connected to the state, on one hand, because the state creates most of the law and, on the other hand, because the state itself is regulated by the law. The branch of law that regulates the state itself is called constitutional law. Constitutional law contains rules on the organization of a state, on the powers that its organs possess, and on the relations between these organs (institutional law), and it provides fundamental rights that protect the legal position of the individual against the state (human rights law, judicial review, and, as an offspring, administrative law).
  • Administrative Law
    There has been a dramatic increase in the activities of government during the last hundred years. Schemes have been introduced to help ensure a minimum standard of living for everybody. Government agencies are involved, for example, in the provision of a state retirement pension, income support and child benefit. A large number of disputes arise from the administration of these schemes and a body of law, administrative law, has developed to deal with the complaints of individuals against the decisions of the administering agency.
  • International Law
    Traditionally, two kinds of law are distinguished. On the one hand, there is national or domestic law, which deals with legal relations within the territory of a single state and with the organization of that state itself. On the other hand, there is international law which deals with the legal relations between states. International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally accepted in relations between nations. It establishes normative guidelines and a common conceptual framework for states to follow across a broad range of domains, including war, diplomacy, trade, and human rights. International law thus provides a mean for states to practice more stable, consistent, and organized international relations. The sources of international law include international custom (general state practice accepted as law), treaties, and general principles of law recognized by most national legal systems.
  • Human Rights
    Nowadays, it is impossible to approach the law – domestic or international – without reference to human rights, and almost no one is against human rights. Human rights are moral principles or norms that describe certain standards of human behavior and are regularly protected as natural and legal rights in municipal and international law. They are commonly understood as inalienable, fundamental rights "to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being" аnd which are "inherent in all human beings", regardless of their nation, location, language, religion, ethnic origin or any other status. They are applicable everywhere and at every time in the sense of being universal, and they are egalitarian in the sense of being the same for everyone.
  • Intellectual property Law
    Few businesses of any size could operate without being able to protect their rights to a particular type of intangible personal property: intellectual property. Unlike tangible personal property (machines, inventory) or real property (land, office buildings), intellectual property is formless. It is the product of the human intellect that is embodied in the goods and services a company offers and by which the company is known. This chapter introduces the major forms of intellectual property are patents, copyrights, and trademarks. It then proceeds to explain the nature of each form of intellectual property right and the process for securing those rights. It also provides the extent of protection afforded the holder of intellectual property rights and the method or manner of enforcing those rights against infringers.
  • Information and Internet Law
    The worlds of today and tomorrow rely upon open networks connecting far-flung participants exchanging information both personal and commercial. Bringing some certainty to this very dynamic environment are the legal foundations supporting the free flow of information over the Internet. The areas of information law addressed: privacy, information security, and data protection law, unlawful data disclosures through cybercrime and data breach, and lawful data disclosures related to messaging and surveillance. The areas of Internet law addressed: access, jurisdiction, speech, intermediary liability, intellectual property, and e-commerce through electronic and website agreements.
  • The Law and Disruptive technologies: bilateral influence
    The advent of a highly disruptive technology necessarily butts up against existing laws, regulations and policies designed for the status quo as well as established businesses. This course takes the examples of driverless cars, artificial intelligence, block chain, robotic and bio-engineering to examine the new and challenging legal questions and opportunities presented by these technologies. We will also discuss how business leaders, lawyers and technologists in these areas can navigate and create legal, regulatory and policy environments designed to help their businesses not only survive but thrive. Through a combination of readings, classroom discussions, expert guest speakers from the relevant technology and policy fields and student presentations, this course explores the promise of these technologies, the legal and regulatory challenges presented and the levers in-house counsel and business leaders in these fields can invoke to better navigate the inevitable obstacles facing these highly disruptive technologies.
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Seminar sessions
  • non-blocking Essay
  • non-blocking Final exam
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (2 module)
    0.4 * Essay + 0.6 * Seminar sessions


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Ambos, K. (2013). Treatise on International Criminal Law : Volume 1: Foundations and General Part. [N.p.]: OUP Oxford. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=678146
  • Bjorge, E. (2018). Public Law Sources and Analogies of Public International Law. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.22C05D7F
  • Caso, R., & Giovanella, F. (2015). Balancing Copyright Law in the Digital Age : Comparative Perspectives. Heidelberg [Germany]: Springer. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=909908
  • Clapham, A. (2007). Human Rights : A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=209686
  • Drake, W. J. (2011). Internet Governance : Creating Opportunities for All: the Fourth Internet Governance Forum, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, 15-18 November, 2009. New York: United Nations Publications. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=348945
  • Elena Salogubova, & Alan Zenkov. (2018). Roman law ’s influence on russian civil law and procedure. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.9A11C0FD
  • EMERICH, Y. (2018). CONCEPTUALIZING PROPERTY LAW : Integrating Common Law and Civil Law Traditions. [S.l.]: Edward Elgar Publishing. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1941999
  • Introduction to law. (2014). Springer. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsnar&AN=edsnar.oai.cris.maastrichtuniversity.nl.publications.f3d8f8a6.c29d.4bad.a516.ad18292e55fb
  • McKendrick, E. (2012). Contract Law : Text, Cases, and Materials (Vol. Fifth edition). Oxford, U.K.: OUP Oxford. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=678166
  • Negotiating Internet Governance. (2019). Netherlands, Europe: Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.A51197D9
  • Rosenfeld, M., & Sajó, A. (2012). The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Constitutional Law. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.4E3D3A53
  • Shaw, M. N. (2008). International Law (Vol. 6th ed). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge eText. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=304677
  • Thomas Buergenthal, Dinah Shelton, & David Stewart. (2009). International Human Rights in a Nutshell, 4th. St. Paul: West Academic Publishing. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1354981
  • Travis, H. (2013). Cyberspace Law : Censorship and Regulation of the Internet. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=655731

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Ambos, K. (2014). Treatise on International Criminal Law : Volume II: The Crimes and Sentencing. Oxford: OUP Oxford. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=678147
  • Introduction to law. (2017). Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57252-9
  • Responsibility Between Neuroscience and Criminal Law. The Control Component of Criminal Liability. (2019). Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.F43ECC70
  • SULLIVAN JR., F. (2018). Banking, Business, and Contract Law. Indiana Law Review, 51(4), 945–991. https://doi.org/10.18060/4806.1209