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Undergraduate Module Descriptor

LAW3155: Law, Politics and Power

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

Module Content

Syllabus Plan

Whilst the precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover all or some of the following topics:


- Introduction to the module: working with legal and political theories; working with legal and political history; key terminology and skills; understanding descriptive and normative approaches; developing critical thinking; developing and expressing an informed opinion.


Module topics:

- Liberalism and law in the 17th and 18th centuries: liberal theories of the social contract and law; historical examples of liberalism and republicanism.

- Democracy in theory and practice from the 18th to 19th centuries: the lasting influence of Ancient Greek theories of democracy; historical examples of the rise of democracy and the expansion of the franchise.

- Liberal democracy’s foundations and challenges from the 20th to 21st centuries: histories and theories of liberal democracy, constitutionalism and the rule of law; tracing and evaluating the challenges of populism, authoritarianism, racial inequality and law’s violence.

- Marxism and Communism: from radical theory to revolution and post-revolutionary theory; the evolution and practice of Communist state systems.

- Fascism and the Strong State: the rise of Italian Fascism; Alfredo Rocco and Giovanni Gentile, theorists of law, state and society under Fascism; the Fascist state and law in practice.

- National Socialism and the prerogative state: the rise of the Nazi regime in Germany; theorists of Nazism; law, politics and state power under Nazism and the question of ‘non law’.

- Transitions between types of state system: from anti-democratic regimes to democracy; questions of law, history and memory; shadows of the anti-democratic and colonial past in democratic law and politics.

- Law and rights: histories and theories of legal rights and human rights; political narratives about rights and the constraint of the state; critiques of rights.

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 activities471 x 1 hour lecture in first week of module to outline module format, ILOs and assessment. 1 x 2 hour lecture per week for 12 weeks in term 1 and 11 weeks in term 2.
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activity10.57 x 1.5 hour workshops (1 on the introduction plus 1 per topic cycle, making a total of 4 in term 1 and 3 in term 2)
Guided Independent study693 hours reading before and/or after each 2 hour lecture
Guided Independent Study284 hours reading before and after each workshop
Guided Independent study145.5Reading, revision and preparation for assessments

Online Resources

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

Web based and electronic resources including video clips and audio material will be provided on ELE.

Other Learning Resources

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