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Undergraduate Module Descriptor

LAW3155: Law, Politics and Power

This module descriptor refers to the 2022/3 academic year.


NQF Level 6
Credits 30 ECTS Value 15
Term(s) and duration

This module ran during term 1 (12 weeks) and term 2 (11 weeks)

Academic staff

Professor Stephen Skinner (Convenor)





Available via distance learning


This module is about the ways in which the relationships between law, politics and the power of the state have been justified theoretically and developed in practice in different sorts of system over time. The module gives you the opportunity to learn about law and the state from the eighteenth to the twenty-first centuries, including the development of liberal theories and the advent of the first revolutionary republics in the 1700s, the emergence of democracy in the 1800s, and the rise of modern liberal democracy from the 1900s to today. The module also allows you to explore the connections and disconnections between theory and practice in the ways law, politics and state power were envisaged and interacted in Communist, Fascist and National Socialist systems during the twentieth century. Giving you the chance to explore the ideological foundations of our political orders today, as well as some of the most influential anti-democratic regimes of the previous century, the module will examine the foundations and purposes of the ‘rule of law’, how it differs from ‘rule by law’, and how we might identify the essential characteristics of liberal democracy in the face of ongoing challenges, such as populism, authoritarianism and issues of racial inequality. This module is designed to give you the opportunity to explore the nature and role of law in society and its relationships with politics, to question your assumptions about law as an instrument of government and a source of protection, and to develop your own critical understanding of law as the product of particular socio-political, theoretical and historical contexts.


The module is suitable for both law and non-law students. You do not require any particular background in law, politics or related theoretical disciplines and the module will enable you to build on the knowledge you have acquired in your studies so far. As such, the module is suitable for students from a range of backgrounds and will be particularly useful for you if you are interested in developing a theoretical, historical and interdisciplinary approach to your studies. This is a module for self-motivating students who enjoy the challenge of reading and participating in discussions.

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