IA120-3-FY: LEGAL THEORY IN PRACTICE
Department: International Academy
Essex credit: 30
ECTS credit: 15
Available to year(s) of study:
Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students: No
This module is designed for Bridging Year students with no previous knowledge of English law, or of jurisprudence. Students will be introduced to the general principles of legal philosophy and encouraged to develop an understanding of the various contemporary writers on the subject and develop an insight to how and why the law evolves.
This module will be offered as an optional module and does not duplicate the core Bridging Year Law module which is an introduction to the institutions of law and the legal system, whereas the Legal Theory in Practice module covers the theory behind judicial decisions and the implementation of Acts of Parliament.
The overall aim of the module is to provide an understanding of the general theoretical reflections upon law and justice. The module concerns an introduction to the relationship between Law, Justice and Morality and will be looked at via different thinkers and will encompass rights and duties. The common thread running through the module will concentrate on Human Rights. An example of how legal theory works in practice would, for example, be given by considering the Diane Pretty case, debating the right to life versus a "right to death". This will be compared to the Re A (Conjoined Twins) case.
The module will introduce students to a range of theorists and students will be encouraged to critically analyse these differing views and develop an understanding of their continuously the shifting nature. Students would be encouraged to compare English law with their home jurisprudence.
The module aims are:
- To provide an understanding of some of the different principal characteristics of legal theory
- To gain an understanding of rights, duties, concepts of law, justice and morality
- To demonstrate how the characteristics are applied in case law
- To analyse critically the different theories
- To analyse critically how the characteristics were applied in case law
- To develop in students the cognitive skills of analysis, synthesis and evaluation of legal, ethical and practical approaches to basic legal issues
- To encourage at all times critical comparison with students' home jurisdictions
On successful completion the student should be able to:
- Demonstrate an understanding of the basic theories such as Utilitarianism
- Demonstrate the difference between the different theories
- Recognise the theorists, i.e. Utiliarianism and Bentham
- Apply the relevant theory in specific cases
- Critically analyse one set case in the light of the various theoretical perspectives and be able to apply this knowledge to other cases
The syllabus is intended to facilitate students' development in having a good basic knowledge of the various thinkers and theories. The area for debate will concentrate on the 'privacy versus public disgust' argument. This will include some substantive law in the form of House of Lords judgments including the Diane Pretty case (right to death?) the Jackson case (should foxhunting be banned?) and the Brown case (should sexual activities in private be brought to the attention of the police/courts?).
Utilitarianism - Bentham
Positivism revisited - Hart, Dworkin
Law and society
Law and morals
The Human Rights Act 1998
The Diane Pretty case
The Brown case
Coursework is comprised of:
One 1,500 word essay (25%) - Titles given out in week 2 of the module. Assignment handed in during week 6. Feedback provided in week 9.
One 10 minute presentation (25%) - Presentation to be given in during weeks 16 and 17. Feedback provided in weeks 19 and 20.
One 1,500 word essay (50%) - Titles given out in week 11 of the module. Assignment handed in during week 18. Feedback provided in week 21.
Students will be informally monitored through weekly assignments, identifying any need for additional support and development. The assignments will be in the form of essays, set reading from articles, journals and law reviews, the students will also be monitored by weekly set questions, where the answers will be given in the seminar to facilitate group discussion. Students will also be expected to be able to comment on current issues and evaluate which legal theorists' ideas would prevail in this type of case.
End of year three-hour examination
Learning & Teaching Methods
The subject is covered by four teaching hours per week. The lessons will be divided into two parts: two hours lecture time and two hours seminar time, giving the students opportunity to discuss the topics. Prior to each seminar the students will be given a question/topic/area to discuss.
50 per cent Coursework Mark, 50 per cent Exam Mark
Exam Duration and Period
3:00 hour exam during Summer Examination period.
- Patrick Devlin, The Enforcement of Morals (Oxford Paperbacks)
JW Harris, Legal Philosophies (LexisNexis Butterworths)
HLA Hart, Law, Liberty and Morality (Oxford University Press)
Richard Norman, The Moral Philosophers (Oxford University Press)
NE Simmonds, Central Issues in Jurisprudence (Sweet & Maxwell)
Raymond Wacks, Philosophy of Law: A very short introduction (Oxford University Press)
Lydia Morris, Rights: Sociological perspectives Routledge London (2006)
Michael Freeman and Ross Harrison (eds) Law and Philosophy Oxford University Press (2007)