Family Law Across Borders (FLAB-P)

Course description


 to the specialised course in Family Law Across Borders!

Course Description: Family Law Across Borders, JU724A, 15 credits
Family Law Across Borders is an upper level elective course given in English at the Department of Law, Stockholm University. The course directors are Professors Michael Hellner and Laura Carlson. The course administrator is Sara Freeman. The email address for the course is: Any questions regarding the course need first be sent to Sara at this address.

Course Objectives and Examination:
This upper level 15-credit elective course has the objective of providing students with the opportunity to gain deeper insight into family law from different scientific as well as legal perspectives. The grade on the course is based on class participation (P/F), the written and oral presentation of an essay (20 points), and the written and oral opposition of another student’s essay (4 points).

Course content
The pedagogical approach of the course is Socratic, problem-based learning. The objective of the course is to convey a deeper and practical understanding of family law over national borders. The approach will also be interdisciplinary, for example, looking also to sociology and behavioral sciences. The focus for the course will be the legal problems that can arise with respect to the organization, function and dissolution of families in a global context. Issues concerning the regulation of alternative family constellations, parenthood, pregnancy, custody and care of children, adoption and marriage as well as cohabitation and the distribution of property will be explored.

Learning outcomes
After completing the course, the student should be able to:

  • demonstrate a deepened knowledge of legal theory and methodology as to family law from national, European and international, as well as interdisciplinary, perspectives

  • identify, apply, and analyze advanced and complex legal problems within the area of  family law from national, European and international, as well as interdisciplinary, perspectives

  • demonstrate the ability to from theories within other disciplines discuss, analyze, and assess the consequences of different legal solutions both from the perspectives of individuals and society, as well as

  • independently plan, write and defend a legal essay as well as be the opponent with respect to another student’s essay.

The course consists of seminars and active student attendance is required at all seminars. Active attendance means that the student has prepared the seminar assignment and participates in the seminar discussions. In the event a student misses any seminar, the student is to complete a written assignment in the form of a short paper on the topic of the seminar (600 words, two A4 pages, 12 pt, 1.5 spacing) which is due at the same time as the essay. A student can miss up to three seminars without having to state a reason. After that, excused absences will only be for good cause, such as illness as attested by a physician’s certificate. All the teaching is in English.

Required readings:
Each seminar has a list of required readings as well as reading questions as set out in the dropbox folder for the seminar.

Examination in the Course
Course Grade:
The grade on the course is based on class participation (P/F), the written and oral presentation of an essay (20 points), and the written and oral opposition of another student’s essay (4 points). The course grade is based on a weighing of the individual presentations within the framework for the different examination moments. All of the course’s learning outcomes must be achieved and all activities passed in order to pass the course. All make-up assignments for missed seminars must be submitted for a grade to be given.

Grading Scale:
Grades are given on either the Swedish four-grade scale or the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) seven-grade scale. The Swedish grading scale is: Pass with distinction (AB), Pass without distinction (BA), Pass (B) or Fail (U). Students who submit a request at least a week prior to the exam to the course administrator are entitled to a grade on the ECTS seven- grade scale. The ECTS seven-grade scale is as follows: A (Excellent), B (Very good), C (Good), D (Satisfactory) or E (Sufficient). Failing grades are Fx (Insufficient) and F (Wholly insufficient).

The Essay Assignment:
The essay is to be approximately 4,500-6,000 words including everything, the title page, footnotes and bibliography. Further information about the requirements as to the course essay, presentation and opposition can be found in the separate document, Essay Assignment.
Essay tutorials will be held mid-way through the course to assist the students in the writing of their essay. Prior to the tutorials, the students are to be divided into small groups. Each student is to submit a 1-2 page outline of the proposed paper, including the legal issue to be investigated, as well as choice of method. This tutorial outline is to be sent to the tutor and other group members for discussion at the tutorial. Each student is expected to read the other students’ outlines and prepare at least two constructive comments as part of the discussion of the topics and methods chosen.
To remind the students at the outset, the Department of Law, Stockholm University, uses the text-matching system URKUND. All final essays are submitted to URKUND for analysis and information on plagiarism can be found at the urkund website,, so check the rules as to how to avoid plagiarizing.
The essay is to be submitted electronically by the time and date as stated in the schedule on the course website and to four email addresses:

  • (Sara),

  • the student opponent,

  • the examiner according to the schedule, and

  • to urkund,

The essay file should named as follows: 201X FLA ZZZ, with 201X being the year the course is given, and ZZZ being the student author’s last name, and in either word or PDF format.
An essay submitted after 10:00 a.m. is late and may be presented only if the lateness does not cause undue inconvenience to the student opponent or the examiner. In any event, a late submission will result in a grade deduction. If you do not receive the essay you are to oppose in time, first check your spam mail, and if not there, let the course administrator know immediately.

Directly after the opposition of the essay, the opponent will submit a printed copy of the written opposition summary to the examiner. The opposition summary is to be between 500-600 words total, bullet points are fine.

Oral presentation of the essay and opposition
The presentations and oppositions will be held in accordance to the schedule posted on the website. You only need to be present at your own 2-hour time slot for your presentation and opposition.

For each 2-hour time slot, the time is allocated in the following manner:
Student 1 presents the essay (about 6-8 minutes)
Student 2 opposes the essay (about 8-10 minutes)
Student 1 addresses the main points of the opposition
Discussion (if wanted/needed)

Short break

Student 2 presents the essay (about 6-8 minutes)
Student 1 opposes the essay (about 8-10 minutes)
Student 2 addresses the main points of the opposition
Discussion (if wanted/needed)
Feedback is then given by the examiner individually (not to both at the same time). However, the grade and grading protocol are not released at this time (to allow for reassessment by the examiners).

Learning objectives of the written and oral presentations:
With the paper and oral presentations, the student is to demonstrate:

  • Knowledge as to the fundamental characteristics of families in different interdisciplinary and legal contexts as studied within the course;

  • Knowledge as to the fundamentals of legal theory and method with respect to family law as well as the ability to critically reason around choice of method and different method problems when analyzing family law issues from national, European and international, or interdisciplinary, perspectives;

  • The ability to independently plan and complete a legal investigation and present the results both in writing and orally in English; and

  • The ability to independently and in a professional manner criticize and oppose in English another student’s academic work.

Assessment criteria with respect to the course essay:

  • subject and problem formulation

  • knowledge of the subject and insight into the topic presentation

  • materials and method

  • analysis and argumentation including independence

  • conclusions, sources and formal requirements (including deadlines), and

  • language

Assessment criteria with respect to the opposition summary:

  • The opposition summary follows the form requirements.

  • Contains objective, relevant and constructive feedback as to another student’s essay.

  • The ability to independently and in a professional manner criticize and oppose in English another student’s academic work within the given timeframe.

Assessment criteria applicable to the oral presentations of the essay and opposition:

  • ability to formulate legal problems

  • ability to within a limited timeframe in a legally correct manner independently and systematically argue based on the problem formulation

  • ability to arrive at legal conclusions as well as communicate them.


Students who fail the regular examination are given the opportunity for re-examination. Students who have passed are not entitled to undergo re-examination for higher grades. Students who are failed twice by the same examiner have the right to demand a different examiner when doing additional re-examinations. This does not however apply if there are specific reasons for not appointing a different examiner.

Completed compulsory assignments are valid for two years. This also applies in cases where a student deregisters from the course by withdrawing.

A student has the right - for a period of two years after registration - to invoke the course requirements contained in the course syllabus applicable at the time the student first registered for the course.

Change semester  

Course title:
Family Law Across Borders
Semester: Spring term 2020
Study period: 1
Rate of studies: 100%
Credits: 15.0
Language of instruction: English


Course contact:
Course coordinator:
Teaching assistant:
Johanna Hale
Course manager:
Laura Carlson
Michael Hellner