LAWS0007 What is Law?


Course LAWS0007
What is Law?







Class Date 15, 16, 17, 19, 22 and 23 July 2019
(24 and 25 July 2019 are reserved for make-up class in case there is any cancellation of classes due to bad weather or other unexpected factors.)
Class Time 1:00pm – 3:30pm
Class Location WMY 507 | CUHK Map
(Wu Ho Man Yuen Building – WMY)
Teacher Mr. Matthew CHEUNG
Professional Consultant
Faculty of Law
The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Medium of Instruction English
Course Description This course is truncated invitation to Law. It covers introductory aspects of legal theory, legal system and legal method.
Class 1 introduces students to law and legal reasoning via the jurisprudential staple, Fuller’s The Speluncean Explorers.


Class 2 focuses on the detail of the Hong Kong legal system. This includes reviewing its history and examining Hong Kong’s post –’97 constitutional structure.

Having reviewed the macro legal structure, class 3 considers the workings of the sources of law, beginning with statues – for example the legislative process and statutory interpretation.

Class 4 examines another source of law – judicial precedents. It considers the doctrine of stare decisis and how lawyers read cases.

Class 5 leaves them ambit of the legal system and legal reasoning and takes a canter through the contours of the legal profession. It peruses the structure of the professions and the basic rules that govern them. It looks at the main areas of practice and also other non-practice but law-related industries.

Class 6 takes a detour back into the fictional and somewhat abstract jurisprudential realms of class1. It revisits with the help of the detailed and practical contexts of classes 2-5. How do judges decide cases? On what bases do they decide cases, outside those that Speluncean covers?

Learning Outcomes By the end of this course students should have a basic understanding of:

  • Legal theory / jurisprudence.
  • The Hong Kong legal system and constitutional arrangement, in a historical, current and practical context
  • Legal method, including statutory interpretation and case method
Recommended Reading(s) / Reference(s) Course materials will contain various materials in lectures and set readings for students to review. These will tend to be brief pithy excerpts. Course materials will refer to materials such as:

  • Fuller’s The Speluncean Explorers,
  • Various legal method tomes and various websites, in particular on the Hong Kong legal system; and;
  • Various online video resources.
Course Assessment Course assessment will be a combination of:

  • A group of presentation (Test 1), and
  • An MCQ test (Test 2)

Subject to class size, Test 1 group presentation will run from days 3-5 inclusive. It will be on materials we cover in class 1 and which we will revisit on Day 6. Each student will belong to one group, make one presentation and share a group mark. Students will receive a pass/ fail grade for Test 1. (Pass or Fail)

Test 2 will take place on day 6. Test 2 will cover material from throughout the course, possibly with an emphasis on Day 5 materials (conduct rules). It will be worth the other 50% of marks. (50%)

To pass students must pass Test 1 in their groups. They must then pass Test 2 by correctly answer 50% of MCQ questions.

These arrangements may change if class size turns out to be too big to run group presentations, e.g. the assessment regime may change to 2-3 MCQ tests.