General theory of law

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The aim of the course is to improve students' capability of comprehension, analysis and critical thinking upon the law in force, and to introduce students to both theoretical and practical skills and abilities, by means of investigating and learning some main legal concepts and their uses and functioning in the domain of law and legal reasoning. In particular, the course will deal with some fundamental concepts such as the concept of norm, legal principles, legal system, validity, sources of law, showing their mutual relations and their effects on some pervasive problems of legal interpretation.
Expected learning outcomes
- Knowledge and understanding of the problems relating to the definitions of the most important legal theoretical concepts, their mutual relations and practical effects
- Ability to apply the tools of conceptual legal analysis to new concepts and issues
- Critical judgment acquired through practical tests
- Development of a communication skill and excellent mastery of legal concepts, acquired through discussions
- Independent learning acquired by managing the main tools of conceptual analysis
Course syllabus and organization

Surname A-L

Lesson period
Second semester
More specific information on the delivery modes of training activities for academic year 2021/2022 will be provided over the coming months, based on the evolution of the public health situation.
Course syllabus
Objects and methods of general jurisprudence; legal interpretation and its problems; the concepts of provision and norm; the concepts of law; theories of legal norm; the concepts of validity; the concepts of effectiveness and applicability; legal system; coherence and congruence; the problem of legal gaps; the difference between law and morality; the concepts of right; dynamic and static theories of rights; rights and principles.
Prerequisites for admission
There are no specific prerequisites
Teaching methods
Lectures, practical exercises, group discussions
Teaching Resources
Attending students
Bibliography available online (, that will be indicated at the first lesson.
Not-Attending students
(1) F. Poggi, Concetti teorici fondamentali, Pisa, ETS, 2013;
(2) G. Pino, Diritti e interpretazione, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2010, except chapters 2 e 3.
Assessment methods and Criteria
Attending students: oral exam or (optionally) one intermediate test, consisting of a written report, plus a final oral exam.
Attending students: oral exam
Evaluation criteria: exposition quality; ability to organize knowledge; ability to manage the concepts and methods of conceptual analysis and to apply them to new legal problems.
IUS/20 - PHILOSOPHY OF LAW - University credits: 6
Lessons: 42 hours
Professor: Poggi Francesca

Surname M-Z

Lesson period
Second semester
Classes may be held in the classroom (in mixed mode, if necessary), if the health situation permits, in accordance with the legislation in force.

In any case, as the pandemic situation in March 2021 cannot be predicted, students will be informed and notified in good time before the start of the course via the website ARIEL.

Alternatively, if classroom attendance is not permitted for public health reasons, lectures will be delivered on Microsoft Teams in synchronous mode at the specified times, recorded and made available for viewing on the same platform and on the course website ARIEL.

Information on how to access the lessons on Microsoft Teams and other classroom instructions will be uploaded to the course website ARIEL, which you should consult regularly in advance of the course start date.

The course alternates between different teaching methods: lectures, seminar method, analysis of legal materials and case solutions. The forum included in Ariel is always active.

The programme and reference material of the course are the same regardless of the mode (face-to-face, blended learning, online only).

There will be no change in the methods of learning assessment and the assessment criteria.
The examination will take place in oral form on the Microsoft Teams platform (with the option of an in-person examination if required) in accordance with the current guidelines for the conduct of examinations.
If health conditions permit, the exam will be conducted in the classroom, subject to classroom availability and compliance with necessary security conditions.
However, students who are unable to travel from their place of residence and/or stay may take the examination by distance learning.

More detailed information and updates will be available on the Ariel course website, which should therefore be consulted regularly.
Course syllabus
Lecture 1 (2 hours) Introduction to the lecture - Legal method: theoretical models and legal practise
Lecture (2 hours) The concepts of norm and principle: minimal term and concepts, typologies - case studies
Lecture 3 (2 hours) The concepts of system and legal order, systematics and systematisation of law - case studies
Lecture 4 (2 hours) Terms and concepts of sources of law - case studies
Lecture 5 (2 hrs) Concepts of legal hierarchy and competence - case studies
Lecture 6 (2 hrs) Application of law ("in concreto" and "in abstracto") - case studies
Lecture 7 (2 hrs) Justification, motivation and legal argumentation - case studies
Lecture 8 (2 hrs.) Argumentation based on principles (constitutional, fundamental, supreme) - case studies
Lecture 9 (2 hrs.) Precedents and their application by the courts - case studies
Lecture 10 (2 hrs.) Legal interests and relations to principles and rights between theory and practise - case studies
Lecture 11 (2 hrs.) Recap lesson of first part of the course
Lecture 12 (2 hrs.) Introduction to "Legisprudence": science of legislation and justification of legislative activity
Lecture 13 (2 hrs.) Justification of laws in the international context
Lecture 14 (2 hrs.) Justification of laws in the European context
Lecture 15 (2 hrs.) Justification of state laws in the Italian constitutional legal system
Lecture 16 (2 hrs.) The Examples of the European Better / Smart Regulation
Lecture 17 (2 hrs.) The Case of "Motivated" Regional Laws
Lecture 18 (2 hrs.) Case Studies
Lecture 19 (2 hrs.) Case Studies
Lecture 20 (2 hrs.) Case Studies ​
Lecture 21 (2 hrs.) Case Studies
Prerequisites for admission
Preparatory courses: as per Regulation of the course degrees. In particular, Private Law Institutions and Constitutional Law are considered as preparatory courses.
Teaching methods
The course takes the form of face-to-face classes, but the active participation of students is always encouraged and fostered, as is discussion among them and with the professor. In particular, the second part of the course, which will be devoted to the analysis of jurisprudence and case law, will have a practical and interactive approach and therefore proactive participation by students is strongly recommended.
Teaching Resources
Class materials: L. Gianformaggio, Filosofia del diritto e ragionamento giuridico, Giappichelli, rist. 2018; F. Ferraro e S. Zorzetto (a cura di), La motivazione delle leggi, Giappichelli, Torino, 2018. For students attending class, the text of the judicial decisions to be analysed during class will be available as a PDF copy on the Ariel page of the course.
Assessment methods and Criteria
Method of Grading: The final examination at the end of the course will be oral and the grade will be 18-30/30 cum laude. Students who attend at least 80% of the classes have the alternative of taking the final exam in oral form or in mixed form, written-oral. In this second option, the student must present a written paper on topics covered in the first part course's classes and the oral exam at the end of the course. Assessment criteria in each case are the correctness and consistency of the subject matter, clarity of language and argumentation, and the ability to analyze and think critically.
IUS/20 - PHILOSOPHY OF LAW - University credits: 6
Lessons: 42 hours
Professor: Zorzetto Silvia
Online Every day by Teams Microsoft previous appointment by email required
OnLine Teams Platform or by other means (Skype, Phone etc.) up to Students' request for precautions applied in consideration of pandemic development