Module Provider: School of Law
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Mr Stuart Lakin

Email: s.j.lakin@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
This module provides an introduction to legal theory and the study of law as a question of justice and politics.

This module aims to provide students with a critical introduction to various approaches to legal philosophy and to encourage students to question the nature of the phenomenon of law and its significance as a form of social control.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of this module it is expected that students will be able to:

  • outline and draw upon ongoing debates over the connections between law, morality, society and politics;
  • critically evaluate competing theses regarding the question ‘what is law?’ and articulate coherent arguments (both written and oral) in support of theoretical positions;
  • contrast theories regarding the nature of legal reasoning and the disparate social forces acting upon its operation.

Additional outcomes:
This module also aims to encourage the development of oral communication and presentation skills and the student’s effectiveness in group situations. Students will also develop skills using legal databases, both paper and electronic. It also aims to encourage the further development of core research skills.

Outline content:

  • Theories of law (e.g. Natural Law, Legal Positivism, Marxist Legal Theory).
  • Critical approaches to jurisprudence (e.g. Critical Legal Studies, Feminism, Critical Race Theory & Postmodernism).
  • Rights-based theories and legal reasoning (e.g. identity politics in law and interpretative frameworks)
  • Anthropological and sociological approaches to law (e.g. legal pluralism).

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
There will be participatory seminars in the Autumn Term and group presentations in the Spring Term. Students will be required to undertake relevant preparatory reading prior to attending the seminars and will be expected to participate in group discussion.

  • Note: The precise number of seminars in the Spring Term (which are set aside for group presentations) depends on the number of students taking the course.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 21 12
Project Supervision 1
Guided independent study 82 84
Total hours by term 103.00 97.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 40
Written assignment including essay 35
Oral assessment and presentation 25

Other information on summative assessment:
Students will be required to participate in one oral presentation to the seminar group (approx. 25 minutes) and lead discussion thereon. The presentation, together with a presentation handout and bibliography, will account for 25% of the final mark for the module and marks will be awarded by team. A written paper (not more than 6 pages) on a title to be provided will account for 35% of the final mark for the module. Students will be assessed both on the content and the overall performance of the presentation. All written work must be formatted in accordance with the Assessed Work Rules in the School Guide.

Relative percentage of coursework: 60%.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:
    One two-hour examination paper counting for 40% of the marks. Two questions to be answered.

    Requirements for a pass:

    Reassessment arrangements:
    See School Guide (Programme Assessment), but note that only the failed element(s) must be retaken with marks for the passed element being carried forward.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 31 March 2017

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