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Undergraduate Module Descriptor

LAW3155: Law, Politics and Power

This module descriptor refers to the 2016/7 academic year.

Module Content

Syllabus Plan

Whilst the module’s content may vary, it is envisaged that it will cover topics organized under some or all of the following thematic headings in the order indicated. As the module will be team-taught, your study will be focussed on, and organized around, key linking questions and problems in order to ensure cohesive coverage.



Part I: The nature of law in society: an instrument of justice?


- The nature of law: sociological and political foundations; historical manifestations; concepts of society, social organisation and the acceptance of rules; sociological and socio-legal approaches to law;


- Law and morality, law and justice: questioning right and wrong; theories of justice; philosophical and ethical questions of law, justice and politics;


- Being critical/ Critical: methodological and existential approaches; politics and law in modernity, postmodernity and late-modernity; reading politics and law through culture;


- Law and discrimination: processes of exclusion and inclusion; justice, the Other and the breaking of norms; feminist theories of law; race and the post-colonial world;



Part II: Law and power: social need, social control or repression?


- Law and politics, law and power: realist, critical and discourse perspectives.


- Law and the State: politics, power and the source of law; theories of State and law; law and justice as safeguard or instrument; decision-making, emergency, exception and certainty;


- Law and the individual: agency, responsibility and obedience - critical and biological perspectives; law and the mind; free will, causation and being human – socio-psychology and individuality; human rights – critical issues in politics and law;


- Law, text, context: the contingency of law as a human artefact; approaches to ‘law and [literature, film, music …]’; 

Learning and Teaching

This table provides an overview of how your hours of study for this module are allocated:

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

...and this table provides a more detailed breakdown of the hours allocated to various study activities:

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning & Teaching activities161 x 2 hour introductory lecture for each of 8 topics
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activity242 x 1.5 hour workshop for each of 8 topics (first tutor led; second student led with tutor guidance)
Guided independent study648 hours reading before and after each lecture
Guided independent study964 hours reading before and after each workshop
Guided Independent study100Reading, revision and preparation for the assessment

Online Resources

This module has online resources available via ELE (the Exeter Learning Environment).



Lecture/ topic outlines, reading lists, further URL links and other material will be provided on ELE.


Web based and electronic resources:


Critical Legal Thinking:


Critical Criminology with material on critical legal studies: