LLM Law and Language

Module description:

This module will normally focus on the following themes in law and language studies:

  1. Engagement with the relationship between law and language. Seminars within this theme will engage with the question ‘is law a language?’ and will focus on two main areas of philosophical interest: the use of language in law and the use of the philosophy of language to address problems of the nature of law.
  2. Production of multilingual law: comparison of drafting law in the bi/multilingual jurisdictions of Canada, Switzerland and Belgium with that of the EU. (NOTE: it is not necessary for students to have any knowledge of a language other than English to understand any part of this module). 
  3. Language rights, privilege and manipulation: minority language rights; narratives of hospitality and impunity in ‘making’ refugees; storytelling, judgement and crimes against humanity; the language of populism and the rise of the far right.
  4. Introduction to the emerging theoretical field of humanities approaches to human rights, focusing on how broader cultural issues of representation are reflected in questions of justice, judgment and truth-telling.
  5. Introduction to the emerging (sub)discipline of legal linguistics (i.e. the techniques used by linguists to reveal evidence; the language used in legal interactions). 

The module is both research-led and research-based. Research-led in that it draws heavily on new and innovative research being undertaken in the field of law and language. Research-based in that students will be conducting research, both individually and in groups, on issues at the forefront of that field.

The module is structured around preparation for a Law and Language student conference at the end of the first semester, at which students will present their work. Students will then incorporate the feedback from their conference presentation into their final paper on the same topic.

Indicative Seminar Topics:

  • Legal Language: exploring theories relating to the relationship between law and language
  • Legal Interpretation: investigating power in interpreting the law
  • Interacting with the Legal System: asserting power through language in legal encounters
  • Bearing Witness: storytelling, judgment, and crimes against humanity
  • Minority Language Rights
  • The Languages of Human Rights
  • How to Make a Refugee: narratives of hospitality and impunity
  • Multilingual Jurisdictions
  • Multilingual Institutions
  • Black Lives Matter and the Language of Populism