Introduction to Law and Legal Thought



  1. Gain awareness of the social nature of Law and its need for living in society, understand that the Law results from culture, is limited and must be in a permanent dialogue with the surrounding reality
  2. Identify the main streams of legal thought and understand critically how they respond to the various questions posed to the law, right from the concept of law
  3. Identify the sources of law, analyse, and discuss their relation
  4. Start with the resolution of practical cases within the context of some specific topics
  5. Draw a map of the Portuguese Law and place approximately in this map the real-life problems

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Luís Duarte de Almeida, Assunção Cristas


Weekly - 6

Total - 72

Teaching language



Not applicable


- Hespanha, António Manuel, O Caleidoscópio do Direito. O Direito e a Justiça nos dias e no mundo de hoje, 2.ª edição reelaborada, Almedina, Coimbra, 2019

- Amaral, Diogo Freitas do, Introdução do Direito Vols. I e II, Almedina, Coimbra, respetivamente 2017 e 2019

- Machado, João Baptista, Introdução do Direito e ao Discurso Legitimador, Almedina, Coimbra, Almedina, Coimbra, 1987 (25.ª reimpressão 2018)

- Sousa, Miguel Teixeira de, Introdução ao Direito, Almedina, Coimbra, 2018 (reimpressão 2021)

- Ascensão, José de Oliveira, O Direito. Introdução e Teoria Geral, 13.ª edição, Almedina, Coimbra, 2019

Teaching method

Theoretical-practical class with strong participation of the students, namely trough discussion regarding previous readings, debates of actual topics, analysis of court decisions, and  solving of practical problems.

Evaluation method

Mandatory final written exam.

Non mandatory continuous evaluation along the semester, that comprises different exercises and oral participation in the classroom.

The continuous evaluation grade accounts to 50% of the final grade if above the grade of the final written exam. When the grade of the final written exam is superior, it prevails.

Subject matter

  1. Fist approach to the concept of law and the purposes of law, the law as a normative order, relation with the others; the science of law and its relationship with other sciences
  2. The most important streams of the legal thought, critical analysis
  3. The sources of law, sources hierarchy and their relationship
  4. The organization of the legal order: main division between public and private law, the main branches of the law
  5. Law and enforcement, organization of the judicial system, alternative dispute resolution


Programs where the course is taught: