LLM Socio-Legal Theory

Teaching and assessment (2018-19): Semester 1, 1 x 6,000 word essay

Module description:

What’s the relationship between law and wider society? What are some of the key assumptions made about this relationship, are they justified, and what are their effects? How does – and how should – the relationship between law and society inform the ways we teach, learn, practice, research, enact, evaluate, and otherwise think about and respond to law? What, exactly is law anyway? These are the sorts of questions this module considers by introducing and encouraging you to critique and apply a range of important - but often very different - perspectives, concepts and theories concerning the relationship between law and society.

As a socio-legal module, it challenges and critiques conventional ‘black letter’ or doctrinal approaches which present law, as well as legal teaching and learning, as the straightforward acquisition of information about, and application of, formal law. As such the module is designed, and is likely, to be of particular interest to those seeking to undertake socio-legal research, either at masters or doctoral level, as well as those with a more general curiosity about and interest in the relationship between law and wider society.

Together we will consider the theoretical and philosophical underpinnings of socio-legal research, including the classical sociological thinkers that influenced the development of socio-legal research; sociological jurisprudence; American realism; structuralism and systems theory; interpretative approaches; critical perspectives, feminist legal theory; queer theory; and legal pluralism. You will be introduced to a range of key law and society texts, projects and writers, and encouraged to think critically about and analyse socio-legal work, as well as apply it to think about law and legal issues, for yourself.

Indicative seminar topics:

  1. Introduction to Law and Society
  2. The Emergence of Law and Society
  3. Understanding Context: Interpretive Approaches to Law and Society
  4. Understanding Social Forces: Structuralism & Systems Theory
  5. Linking Structural and Contextual Approaches
  6. Critical Legal Theories
  7. Legal Consciousness
  8. Feminist Legal Theory
  9. Queer Theory and Law
  10. Legal Pluralism and Globalisation