Skip to Content


Last modified: 31 Jul 2023 11:19

Course Overview

This course engages students with the economic underpinnings of different aspects of the law. Why and when should property be privately, communally, or publicly owned? How can a legal system minimise the social costs of accidents? Why and to what extent do we need the law to regulate contracts? These are some of the questions that the course will address. Each seminar will focus on a legal topic that will be analysed through an economic lens. No prior knowledge of economics is needed.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 4
Session First Sub Session Credit Points 30 credits (15 ECTS credits)
Campus Aberdeen Sustained Study No

Sorry, we don't have a record of any course coordinators.

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • One of Programme Level 3 or Programme Level 4 or Programme Level 5
  • Any Undergraduate Programme
  • Legal Studies (Ma Honours) (LX)

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?

Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

Government policies, judicial decisions, and administrative actions are most often either influenced or guided by an economic rationale. With the rise of ‘economic thinking’, liberalisations and free markets, the law has been increasingly reinterpreted or modified to harmonize with economic principles.

However, economics is not a hard science and requires interpretation, just like the law.

Economic analysis is not confined to those areas of the law which are traditionally called “economic”, in the sense of commercial or business-related. Rather, it offers an analytical method for critically assessing the impact of legal rules on the behaviour of individuals and firms in virtually all areas of the law, especially in terms of the effect of these rules on social welfare.

This optional course provides a non-technical introduction to the economic analysis of law. It allows Honours students to look at various fields of law studied in previous years from a new, interdisciplinary perspective.

The module has two main objectives. First, to show how and to what extent the concepts and methods of economic theory can be used to understand the effects of law on the behaviour of individuals and firms. Second, to engage students in the active use of these analytical tools in critical discussion about particular rules, doctrines and cases, especially in the law of contracts, torts, property and crime.

The innovative and attractive feature of this course is the way economic theory is introduced via examples, demonstrating how its analytical tools can illuminate specific and relevant legal problems that arise not just in UK law but also across modern legal systems.
This course presents six legal topics and the economic reasoning that justifies the adoption of the underlying laws and their enforcement. Starting from a specific topic, the course examines the economic theories that support a legal norm or regulatory framework. Throughout the course, students will also be encouraged to be creative and analyse alternative scenarios, motivated by different economic ideas. Through inductive learning, students will appreciate how economics contributes to shaping the law in the books and in action.

For instance, we shall discuss commons and anticommons in IP law; information asymmetry and risk allocation in contract law; principal-agent problems in corporate governance; or the incentive effects of tort law and criminal law.

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

More Information about Week Numbers

Details, including assessments, may be subject to change until 31 August 2023 for 1st half-session courses and 22 December 2023 for 2nd half-session courses.

Summative Assessments

There are no assessments for this course.

Formative Assessment

There are no assessments for this course.

Course Learning Outcomes

Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
Sorry, we don't have this information available just now. Please check the course guide on MyAberdeen or with the Course Coordinator

Compatibility Mode

We have detected that you are have compatibility mode enabled or are using an old version of Internet Explorer. You either need to switch off compatibility mode for this site or upgrade your browser.