Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

Law, Crime And Society In England, C1580-C1700 HIST4088

  • Academic Session: 2020-21
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 60
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Runs Throughout Semesters 1 and 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No

Short Description

This special subject explores the role of law in creating and maintaining essential norms of behaviour and central principles of social order in a period which witnessed severe economic, social and political tensions. It focuses on the way in which the law operated to uphold and enforce social order in a variety of ways - through dispute settlement, petty regulation, and in its definition of and responses to criminal behaviour.


Three hours per week across the teaching year.

Requirements of Entry

Successful completion of Junior Honours in history.

Excluded Courses




2 essays (one in each semester) 10%

2 seminar papers (one in each semester) 6% each

Seminar contribution (one assessment in each semester) 4% each

Examination: 2 x 120 minute examinations, worth 60% overall

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

The aims common to all the Department's Honours Special Subjects are as follows:

to prepare students for independent and original analysis of a complex range of evidence, including source materials, thereby developing intellectual skills which will be of benefit in a wide range of careers;

to show students how a professional historian works;

to familiarise students, through source-criticism, with a wide range of problems of interpretation arising from different usages of language, underlying meanings and intentions, differing standards of objectivity, and the variety of purpose and intent associated with historical evidence (written, visual or other);

to ensure, through student-led discussion, that the relative validity of alternative historical interpretations is fully recognised;

to encourage students to develop the confidence, imagination, skills and self-discipline required to master a similarly demanding brief in the future, whether in historical research or in any sphere of employment where these qualities are valuable.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

Having completed this particular Special Subject, students should be able to achieve the following outcomes:

to demonstrate a thorough understanding of the structure and workings of the legal system in early modern England and the ways in which it shaped and mediated assumptions about class, gender, criminality, conflict and community;

to demonstrate a detailed familiarity with historians' contributions and debates and the ability to contrast and evaluate varied historiographical approaches to these topics;

the ability to locate, analyse and deploy primary source material in order to construct arguments about the role of law, the representation of crime, and the nature of society in early modern England;

to contrast and evaluate different kinds of evidence relating to legal and regulatory processes in early modern England;

to deliver concise, clear and persuasive seminar presentations, essays and answers to examination questions, incorporating a range of substantiating evidence.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.