LW3LPL-Law in Philosophy and Literature

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:
Current from: 2019/0

Module Convenor: Prof Aleardo Zanghellini

Email: a.zanghellini@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:
Through an examination of major works of literature and philosophy, the module leads students into an inquiry into some of the most significant questions and principles of political morality that attend the study of law.


The module aims to enrich students’ understanding of, and sharpen their ability to critically reflect about, some of the major questions, principles and concepts of political morality that attend the study of law. It does so by introducing students to a selection of relevant works of literature, as well as philosophical writings. The module will examine such topics as justice, the rule of law, legitimate authority and democracy through the work of writers such as Hannah Arendt, Plato, William Shakespeare, John Locke, Sophocles, Katherine Mansfield, Joseph Raz and Martha Nussbaum.

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

• Appreciate the point and value of the interdisciplinary study of law and the humanities;
• Effectively interrogate works of literature and philosophy as sources of meaning capable of shedding light on concepts, principles and questions of political morality relevant to law;
• Read literary texts that deal with these principles, concepts and questions in light of philosophical elaboration on the same principles, concepts and questions;
• Use relevant works of literature to inform their understanding of the philosophical treatment of these principles, concepts and questions;
• Critically evaluate the philosophical and literary treatment of these concepts and principles;
• Distinguish between more and less plausible interpretations of texts addressing these questions, concepts and principles;
• Understand and take a stand in debates about how to interpret legal and non-legal texts.

Additional outcomes:
The module also aims to develop oral communication skills and research skills.

Outline content:
After addressing questions of interpretation, the module will be organised around themes and topics, each of which is constructed around one or more fundamental questions, principles or concepts of political morality. These may include, for example, any or all of the following problems:

- The value of adhering to the Rule of Law
- Whether there is an obligation to obey the law
- The value of democracy
- What makes political authority legitimate

Some of these topics are also touched upon in the context of jurisprudence (LW3JUR), but they are examined more systematically in LW3LPL (LW3JUR’s main emphasis is on a different set of questions). Another difference is that while LW3JUR concentrates on the analysis of certain concepts and principles by contemporary legal philosophers, the sources used in LW3LPL include not only the work of contemporary legal philosophers but also ancient, early modern and modern texts of literature, as well as the writings of political philosophers from different historical periods. LW3JUR and LW3LPL ideally complement each other without replicating the same content.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
This module will be taught by seminars in the autumn and spring terms.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 12 8
Guided independent study: 88 92
Total hours by term 100 100
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 80
Oral assessment and presentation 20

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:
One individual or group presentation of 10 minutes on one of the issues covered in the staff-led seminars. 10%

Class participation. 10%

One 10-page assessed essay formatted in accordance with the rules set out in the Law School Guide (programme assessment) due around or after the end of the spring term (deadline to be notified). 80%

Formative assessment methods:
Students will be provided with feedback shortly after their assessed presentations. They will have the opportunity to discuss their assessed essays with the Module Convenor. A revision seminar will be held at the end of spring term.

Penalties for late submission:

Assessment requirements for a pass:

Reassessment arrangements:
See Programme Handbook (Assessment) but note that only a failed element need be re-taken, with marks for a passed element carried forward.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

Last updated: 18 November 2019


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