Introduction to Chinese Law and Chinese Legal Culture

Course content

The goal of the course is to provide students with a theoretical understanding and practical perspective of the Chinese legal system and legal culture. In spite of the Chinese long history, the modern Chinese legal system can be attributed to transplantation from Western laws, but with unique Chinese characteristics as a result of development and transformation of society, economy, politics and culture. 

The course will place emphasis on the understanding of Chinese legal system and Chinese legal culture from a Nordic (European) perspective. As the world's second largest economy, China remains the largest trade partner in Asia for Denmark. It is also imperative to explore the growing impact of the mutual economic activities such as trade and investment between China and Denmark (Europe) from a legal perspective. Furthermore, the latest development of e-commerce and artificial intelligence in a digital age in China will be integrated into the course. 

The course will provide various fields of legal studies and research related to Chinese law, in order to help students who would like to work on comparative legal research related to China. It will also be useful for students who are interested in facilitating business exchanges with Chinese enterprises to have some practical understandings of the modern Chinese legal system and legal culture.

Any students who are interested in Chinese legal system, Chinese legal culture and modern China in the context of digital transformation are encouraged to select this course.


This course is part of iCourts Excellence Programme (iEP) – International Law and Courts in a Global World, please see 'Remarks' below.

Learning outcome

The course aims at providing students with a theoretical and practical understanding of transformation of the Chinese law and Chinese legal culture. 


Students should gain knowledge on:

  • general and specific principles of Chinese law;
  • basic features of China's constitutional law and the Chinese system of political parties;
  • basic features of Chinese administrative law, criminal law and criminal procedural law and civil law; 
  • understanding of major sources of laws, law-making as well as legislative interpretation and judicial interpretation;
  • basic understanding of Chinese legal tradition and legal culture with a comparison to Western legal culture and tradition;
  • basic understanding of thematic areas including regulatory frameworks of climate change, renewable energy, food safety in China, etc;  
  • understanding of transformation of Chinese law and development of a socialist market-economy in the Chinese context;
  • business negotiation, business rules and cultural aspects in the Chinese business community;
  • latest development of China's Belt and Road Initiative and the role of China in international economic dispute resolution. 


Students should gain skills:

  • to understand the social and economic, historical and cultural background of the development of Chinese legal system;
  • to understand differences between legislative interpretation and judicial interpretation in Chinese context;
  • to develop ability to analyze complex economic aspect and legal issues of Chinese law;
  • to make the use of Chinese legal system and legal culture in business negotiation with Chinese partners;
  • to apply and evaluate primary and secondary sources to cope with actual issues of Chinese law.   


Students should gain competences:

  • to describe legal problems and issues in Chinese law;
  • to conduct comparative legal research between Chinese perspective and European perspective; 
  • to evaluate the major means of dispute resolution in China;
  • to carry out legal professional activities related to China. 

Lectures, student group presentations, interactive discussion among students and between lecturers and students, and study visits.
Guest lecturers will be invited to give talks in class

Main literature: Jianfu Chen, Chinese Law: Context and Transformation (3rd Ed.), BRILL, 2015.

Supplementary materials: articles, book chapters, cases, legislations and videos will be provided for certain sessions.

Total required reading materials are approximately 750 pages.


Appropriate level of written and spoken English is required

Please observe, this course is part of iCourts Excellence Programme (iEP) – International Law and Courts in a Global World. Students who sign up for the iEP become iCourts Student Fellows and will get a unique opportunity to become part of the research environment of iCourts – the only centre of excellence in law in Denmark. The iEP is open to all Danish and foreign BA and MA students at the Faculty. All iCourts courses may be taken as stand-alone courses but only students who complete a total of at least 45 ECTS courses offered by the centre or of 30 ECTS such courses plus write their MA-thesis with an iCourts Supervisor will receive a certificate confirming their participation in the iEP. Read more about the programme here: https:/​/​​icourts/​education/​excellence-programme/​

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)

The course will be highly interactive between the lecturer(s) and students. Students will be presenting their group (or individual) projects based on discussion in the class. The mid-term and final essays are to be presented on a group (or individual)-basis. The presentations will receive both peer-to-peer feedback and teacher's feedback and supervision. Continuous, oral and collective feedback will be given during the course of the semester.

Type of assessment
Written assignment
Project exam (including group project)
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Preparation
  • 356,5
  • Seminar
  • 56
  • English
  • 412,5