PP3LAC-Philosophy of Law and Crime

Module Provider: Philosophy
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Dr Mark Tebbit

Email: m.w.tebbit@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:

To introduce students to the main theories of law and some of the important controversies in contemporary philosophy of law, and to develop a critical understanding of how the law relates to morality in civil and criminal law.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of this module the students will be able to explain the differences between the major theories of law, past and present, and understand how to apply them to current controversies in law. They will understand the relevance of theory to practice, through the application of theory to cases. Oral skills will be improved by presentation of arguments in essay discussions and by participation in lectures and seminars. Group interaction will be encouraged in all the classes.

Additional outcomes:
Students will see how the philosophy of law relates to central themes in the history of western philosophy, and their attention will be drawn in particular to the connections with moral and political philosophy. In assessing the merits of various theories of law, students will also develop the kind of critical skills appropriate to the philosophy degree as a whole.

Outline content:
This module will explore some of the philosophical questions and problems relating to the nature of law, what it is and what it ought to be. Starting with the concepts of law, justice and equity, we will move through natural law theory and legal positivism, into modern versions of legal realism and theories of rights.. The second part of the module will focus on criminal law and the philosophical problems arising from its application. Topics covered will include the distinction between murder and manslaughter, the defences of necessity, duress and insanity, and the justifications of punishment.

Sample Reading List:
Tebbit, M. (2005) Philosophy of Law: An Introduction (Routledge), 2nd Edition [Course text]
Murphy , M. (2007) Philosophy of Law: the Fundamentals (Blackwell 2007)
Bix, B. Jurisprudence: Theory and Context (3rd Edition, Sweet & Maxwell 2005)
Culver, K. (ed) (2008) Readings in the Philosophy of Law 2nd Edition (Broadview,)
Harris, J.W.(1997) Legal Philosophies (Butterworths)
Murphy, J.G. & Coleman, J.L. (1990) Philosophy of Law: An Introduction to Jurisprudence (Westview Press)
Simmonds, N.E. (2002) Central Issues in Jurisprudence (Sweet & Maxwell)

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
This module is taught by lectures, seminars and essay preparation and guidance. Lectures lead into seminars as questions and discussion are encouraged throughout. Weekly handouts and a full reading-list with wide choice of essay questions are supplied.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20
Seminars 10
Guided independent study 170
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 70
Written assignment including essay 30

Other information on summative assessment:
There will be 2 essays of 2000 -2500 words, worth 15% each.

Electronic Submission
All coursework should be submitted electronically via Blackboard.

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:
    There will be a 2-hour examination, worth a total 70% of the final mark, in which you will be required to answer 2 questions from a list of 6 within 2 hours.

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall

    Reassessment arrangements:
    By written examination only

    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: 9 January 2017

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