00536 - Institutes in Roman Law

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

The course is proposed to present, through a rerun balanced making exposure it is to the historical evolution that to the dogmatic canons, to present a legal grammar of base and the essential slight knowledge for the best understanding of our contemporary private law and the other national or “ transnational ” legal systems that in some way they are recalled or they will be recalled in the long run and complex historical experience that is descendant of the Roman Law.

Course contents

The course will be articulated in two connected parts: the first part offers a historical perspective and the second a dogmatic one. The first will supply the historical coordinates of the roman legal experience from its origin until to the epoch of Justinian. In this context, will be analysed the evolution of the concept of law and its classifications ( ius naturale , ius civile , ius gentium ); the history of the pontifical and secular jurisprudence and its role on the law development; the relation betweenius civile and ius honorarium ; the legislative enactments of the emperors in various forms; the vulgar law and post-classical sources; the codes in late antiquity. Special attention will be given to the Justinian age and to the compilation of the Corpus Iuris Civilis, which represents an experience of extraordinary importance for the world legal history. In detail: the figure of Justinian and his main collaborators; the first and the second Code; the Digest and the theories about his compilation; the Institutes; the Novels and their collections; the relation between Justinian law and classical law; the attention of the emperor to the theological problems and religious policy; the reform of the state between reconquest and routine., the concept of law and its classifications ( ius naturale , ius civile , ius gentium); . The second part will take into consideration the fundamental institutes of Roman private law. The analysis of the law of persons will focus on the legal regulation of slavery in its historical evolution, the emergence of concepts of legal capacity and capacity to act, the problems related to the birth and death of an individual, the features and privileges of Roman citizenship and the effects of his grant to all the inhabitants of the empire. Special attention will be given to the singularity of Roman family centred on the figure of the pater familias; the marriage, the divorce and de facto unions; the legal status of children and the legitimation; the gradual emergence of a patrimonial autonomy of the descendents and the connected institutions; adoption and arrogation; guardianship and care. The part which regards the real rights will take into consideration the characteristics of the quiritarian ownership and the other types of ownership known in Roman law; the problems concerning the modes of original and derivative acquisition; the subordinate real rights and the possession. The law of obligations will begin from the concept of obligation and its sources. It will be analysed various types of obligations, the performance, the non-performance and its consequences. It will be analysed the origin of the concept of contract and the single figures of typical contracts in their division into four parts (real, verbal, literal, consensual). As regards the successions, it will be presented the basic concepts: the general notions, to the various kinds of the succession and their relations, the testament, the legacies. Also it will be traced the evolution of the Roman civil procedure in its principal forms: the legis actiones , the formulary system and the cognitio extra ordinem . In this context more attention will be dedicated to the relation between substantive law and trial, the various kinds of actions and the role of praetor.

For students who need to integrate 1 CFU

The exam program will be agreed upon with the holder of the course.

For students who need to integrate 2 CFU

Students who need to integrate two CFU must study the following volume:F. Briguglio. Introduzione allo studio delle Istituzioni di Gaio, Amazon, 2015.

For Erasmus students

The Erasmus students’ exam program will be agreed upon with the holder of the course.

For students who intend to obtain recognition of examinations abroad (Erasmus, Overseas or other exchange programs)

The holder of the course will evaluate from time to time the congruity of the proposed content with the study subject of the discipline.



F. BRIGUGLIO, Introduzione allo studio delle Istituzioni di Gaio, Amazon, 2015.


F. BRIGUGLIO, Elementi di diritto romano, 4a ed., 2019, KDP Amazon


D. DALLA, R. LAMBERTINI, Istituzioni di diritto romano, 3° ed., Giappichelli, Torino, 2006

The consultation of Gaius and Justinian's Institutes is a useful complement (translation E. NARDI, Istituzioni di diritto romano, voll. A e B, Milano, Giuffré, 1973-75).

Teaching methods

There are no preparatory courses for this course.

Assessment methods

The final exam will be a verbal examination on the topics indicated in the “Course contents” section.

The evaluation of the examination will be carried out taking into consideration:

- the knowledge of institutional profiles;

- the ability to analyze the decisions of the courts and the opinions of academic commentators;

- the ability to make connections among the different parts of the program;

- the ability to develop critical arguments;

- the articulation of the exposure;

- the accuracy of the exposure.

By way of example, the following criteria will be used to assess the final mark (that will be out of 30/30):

  • sufficient or barely sufficient knowledge on the programme, limited reasoning ability, some difficulties in using technical and legal language → 18-21/30;
  • fairly good knowledge of the programme, adequate critical reasoning ability, sound use of technical and legal language → 22-25/30;
  • comprehensive knowledge of the programme, notable reasoning ability, good command of technical and legal language → 26-29/30;
  • extensive knowledge of the programme, very good reasoning ability, and ability to fully master technical-legal language → 30-30L/30.

Registration for the final exam will have to be done using the Almaesami platform (https://almaesami.unibo.it/almaesami/welcome.htm).

Bachelor's Thesis

The Bachelor's thesis project will be discussed and agreed upon with the professor from time to time.

Seminars will be organized for the Bachelor’s candidates to illustrate the main tools of historical-legal research and their correct use for writing the thesis.

Teaching tools

The teaching materials will be made available through the "Insegnamenti OnLine" platform (https://iol.unibo.it/).

Students which need compensatory tools for reasons of disability or Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) will communicate to the teacher their needs so as to be directed to the dedicated person and arrange on the adoption of the most appropriate measures.

Office hours

See the website of Ivano Pontoriero