James Muir, BA (Hons) (University of Manitoba), MPhil (University of Waikato, NZ), MA and PhD (York University)

Joint Professor, Faculty of Arts - History & Classics Dept


Joint Professor, Faculty of Arts - History & Classics Dept
(780) 492-0858
234 Tory (H.M.) Building
11211 Saskatchewan Drive NW
Edmonton AB
T6G 2H4



Dr. James Muir joined the Faculty of Law in 2006. He teaches Legal History in the Faculty and in the Department of History & Classics.

Dr. Muir's research interest is in Canadian legal history. His most recent book is a study of civil law in practice in eighteenth century Halifax. He has published on class and reception of law, procedure at the first session of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia in 1755, the development of personal injury, tort and contract in nineteenth-century Nova Scotia and legal historiography. 

  • Legal History
  • Labour & Employment Law
  • Socio-legal Studies & Research Methods
  • Legal Methodologies & Pedagogies


HIST 260 - Pre-Confederation Canada

Fall Term 2021
HIST 460 - Topics in Canadian History

Prerequisite: *3 in HIST at the 300-level or consent of Department.

Winter Term 2022
HIST 606 - Comprehensive Topic Course

Historiographical course focused on one of the department's designated graduate fields of study. May be repeated for credit when course content differs. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.

Fall Term 2021
HIST 660 - Topics in Canadian History

Winter Term 2022
LAW 486 - Jurisprudence

An examination of law from a theoretical rather than a doctrinal perspective. Every year, the course will consist of a number of seminar offerings whose focus will be on a broader theoretical examination of law, legal processes, and institutions. Each of these courses will allow a critical examination of law from a variety of perspectives such as; legal theory, literature, politics, economics, social and cultural development, and religion.

Fall Term 2021
LAW 496 - Legal History

An examination of law and legal institutions from a historical perspective designed to explore continuity and change in common, statute, and constitutional law. Every year, the course will consist of a limited number of seminar offerings whose focus will be on the historical development of law, legal processes, and institutions.

Winter Term 2022
LAW 696 - Graduate Seminar - Practice and Theory in Legal Scholarship

This is an academic methods and theory seminar for graduate students. Students will have an opportunity to think critically about developing projects based on sound research methodologies and theoretical frameworks in order to pursue original legal scholarship at an advanced level. Enrollment restricted to graduate students.

Fall Term 2021

Browse more courses taught by James Muir

Scholarly Activities

Research - On-going research and writing projects

Law and Community in the Maritimes

I am currently working on social history of law research on Nova Scotia at the end of the eighteenth century and Prince Edward Island in the century before 1873. I am using quantitative and qualitative historical methods to do this study. I am particularly interested in the ways communities, defined by place, ethnicity, gender, status, class, and religion came into contact with the law.

Teaching the Constitution in Games

Along with Prof. Peter Carver (Faculty of Law), I have developed two games based on confederation and patriation. Having taught the games several times at the University of Alberta, I am preparing them now for publication and broader dissemination.

Documenting Law

In this project I am considering the ways law is portrayed in documentary films. The project, in its infancy, is built at the intersection of legal studies, film studies and cultural history. Unlike my other research, this project is not limited to, or even particularly, Canadian in focus.

Other - Public History

I work with the Alberta Labour History Institute (ALHI) in collecting and sharing the history of working people in Alberta. ALHI has produced books, films, booklets, posters, and conferences for the general public, shares its large oral history collection, and has engaged in public and union education projects around the province and beyond. 


Law, Debt, and Merchant Power: The Civil Courts of Eighteenth-Century Halifax
Author(s): James Muir
Publication Date: 2016
External Link: https://www.osgoodesociety.ca/book/law-debt-and-merchant-power-the-civil-courts-of-eighteenth-century-halifax/
Property on Trial: Canadian Cases in Context
Author(s): Eric Tucker, James Muir, Bruce Ziff
Publication Date: 2012
External Link: https://www.osgoodesociety.ca/book/property-on-trial-canadian-cases-in-context/
"Alberta Labour and Working-Class Life, 1940–1959"
Author(s): James Muir
Publication Date: 2012
Publication: Working People in Alberta: A History
Page Numbers: 108-139
External Link: http://www.aupress.ca/index.php/books/120194
"The Fight for Bourgeois Law in Nova Scotia, 1749-1753"
Author(s): James Muir
Publication: Histoire sociale/Social history
Volume: 49
Issue: 98
Page Numbers: 1-25
External Link: https://muse-jhu-edu.login.ezproxy.library.ualberta.ca/article/622861