Module specification cover sheet



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  1. Title of the module

A Critical Introduction to Law (LW313)

  1. School or partner institution which will be responsible for management of the module

Kent Law School

  1. The level of the module

Level 4

  1. The number of credits and the ECTS value which the module represents

30 credits (15 ECTS Credits)

  1. Which term(s) the module is to be taught in (or other teaching pattern)

Autumn and Spring

  1. Prerequisite and co-requisite modules

None

  1. The programmes of study to which the module contributes

All single and joint honours undergraduate Law programmes

  1. The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
    On successfully completing the module students will be able to:




    1. Demonstrate an understanding of the basic concepts and principles at issue in contemporary critical and analytical legal theory.

    2. Demonstrate a capacity to apply basic critical legal concepts to contemporary contexts and debates

    3. Demonstrate a sociological, historical and political perspective towards claims about law’s objectivity and neutrality.

    4. Understand law as an instrument of politics and ideology.

    5. Undertake basic independent critical and analytical legal research.

    6. Present, orally and in writing, basic critical argument.

    7. Demonstrate the research and composition skills required to write essays and undertake other written assignments.



  1. The intended generic learning outcomes.
    On successfully completing the module students will be able to:




    1. Research a legal issue to find relevant principles and concepts, and to investigate those principles and concepts critically and analytically

    2. Identify flaws and weaknesses in argument

    3. Distinguish and rank sources of knowledge and evidence

    4. Use library and web resources, including journal articles, to research an issue

    5. Present a sustained critical analysis of a legal issue in writing

    6. Work independently in pursuit of a research and composition assignment

    7. Consider critically and reflectively their own learning.



  1. A synopsis of the curriculum

The module will introduce students to critical legal techniques grounded in critical legal and social theory, feminist and queer theory, postcolonial theory and law and the humanities. Throughout the course, concepts are introduced through socio-legal and critical investigation of selected case studies - such as new pieces of legislation, emerging political campaigns and prominent litigation - ensuring that the course maintains a focus on ‘law in action’. Particular attention will be paid to developments in foreign jurisdictions and in the international arena. Accordingly, case studies will alter from year to year, and draw heavily on research projects on-going in the Law School. The course has a heavy focus on primary legal materials and core critical texts, but will also draw on film, museum artefacts, art and literature as appropriate.

Lectures are arranged in six blocks, as follows:

Autumn Term:

1. Critical Lawyering

2. Judges and Justice

3. The Individual and the State

Spring Term:

4. Equalities and Exclusion

5. Markets, Property and Power

6. Changing the Law.



    • ‘Critical Lawyering’ introduces the core theoretical traditions and concepts – including theories of justice - which will ground the remainder of the module. Topics are rooted in a discussion of students’ own expectations of and attitudes around (i) legal education and (ii) their future engagement with law-making, as lawyers or as citizens.

    • ‘Judging and Justice’ supports critical discussion of judicial decision-making, litigation and dispute resolution. Topics for discussion might include judicial diversity, judicial activism, judgment in unjust legal orders and alternative dispute resolution.

    • ‘The Individual and the State’ extends outwards from a focus on the courts, to consider the application of critical legal theory to other sites of law-making, government and regulation. Topics for discussion might include ‘sovereignty’, ‘territory’, ‘citizenship’ and ‘theories of power’.

    • ‘Equalities and Exclusion’ asks students to consider the experiences of marginalised subjects within legal and political orders. Students will be introduced to theories of equality and rights, and to core concepts in feminist legal theory, critical race theory and queer theory.

    • ‘Markets, Property and Power’ considers legal concepts of ownership and exchange from the perspective of political economy. Students will be introduced to theories of law and the market, globalisation and economic development, and international trade.

    • ‘Changing the Law’ - the preceding four topics introduced students to theories of the relationship between law, political and economic power and domination. This topic allows students to reflect on means by which law might be made more ‘just’. It moves beyond traditional mechanisms of legal change such as litigation and statutory reform to consider the roles played by social movements, protest and civil disobedience, and local resistance in altering legal precepts.



  1. Reading List (Indicative list, current at time of publication. Reading lists will be published annually)




  • W. Brown and J. Halley, Left Legalism/Left Critique (Duke University Press, 2002)

  • M. Davies, Asking the Law Question (LBC, 2002)

  • Gearey, W. Morrison and R. Jago, The Politics of the Common Law (Routledge, 2009)

  • I Grigg-Spall and P Ireland, The Critical Lawyer's Handbook (Pluto; 1992)

  • W Mansell, B Meteyard and A Thomson, A Critical Introduction to Law, 3rd edition (Cavendish; 2004)

  • Penner and Melissaris, McCoubray and White’s Textbook on Jurisprudence (Oxford, 2012)

  • M. Stone et al (eds) New Critical Legal Thinking (Routledge, 2012)

  • Veitch et al, Jurisprudence: Themes and Concepts (Routledge, 2012)

  • I Ward, Introduction to Critical Legal Theory, 2nd edition (Cavendish, 2004)



  1. Learning and Teaching methods




The module is allocated 300 hours of study time, comprising;

  • Two lectures each week throughout the Autumn Term and up to Week 20 (Lectures end in Week 20 to facilitate the process of planning the long essay) of the Spring Term providing 34 hours of lectures. The lectures are of particular importance in light of the Certificate level of the module and the distance-learning status of many of the students pursuing it. Some lectures will take the form of panel discussions and debates, allowing students to engage with staff members who are not part of the core module teaching team. Some lectures will be pre-recorded and delivered via Moodle to allow flexibility in content and location.



  • Weekly seminars of one hour’s duration providing 20 hours of seminars. Seminars will provide students with the opportunity to engage actively in the development of critical, analytic and reasoning skills in debate, analysis and argument in the small-group classes.


Seminars in Weeks 19-21 will allow students to discuss their progress and ideas in group with others working on the same essay, to consider relevant readings, and to receive ongoing oral feedback from seminar leaders.

  • The remaining 246 hours are dedicated to private study comprising reading, research, writing and seminar and assessment preparation.



  1. Assessment methods.




The module is assessed by 100% coursework.

There are two summative assessments, a case commentary of 2000 words carrying 40% of the marks for the module, and a longer essay of 3000 words, carrying 60% of the marks for the module.

In addition there is a formative assessment in the form of a first draft of the case commentary. An essay plan submitted in advance of the longer essay provides a further opportunity for formative feedback.

The case commentary is a short essay critically assessing a judgment on a doctrinal topic to be selected by the module convenor. It is to be submitted at the start of Term 2, and will be an exercise in applied critique. It will allow students to consider how theoretical concepts introduced in the classes on ‘Judges and Judging’ can be used to analyse judicial decisions. Students will submit a draft of their commentary for formative assessment and feedback by their seminar leader near the end of Term 1. Students will have the opportunity to take into account the formative feedback on their arguments, content, structure and merits of their critique before the summative assessment is submitted.



The longer essay will ask students to analyse and make critical proposals for addressing a contemporary problem in critical legal practice. Their essays must draw on one or more of the theories covered in the course lectures. Students will be able to choose a topic from a selection provided by the module convenor. These will draw on case studies underpinning the lectures, and will be chosen because they allow consideration of two or more of the discrete topics covered in lectures. Students will be required to submit a plan for formative feedback before submitting their essay.

Term 1

  • Draft of case commentary - 2000 words [formative only]

  • Case commentary - 2000 words - 40%

Term 2




  • Essay plan [formative only]

  • Essay – 3000 words - 60%



  1. Map of Module Learning Outcomes (sections 8 & 9) to Learning and Teaching Methods (section 12) and methods of Assessment (section 13)



Module learning outcome

8.1

8.2

8.3

8.4

8.5

8.6

8.7

9.1

9.2

9.3

9.4

9.5

9.6

9.7

Learning / teaching method

Hours allocated











































Lectures

34

X

X

X

X













X
















Seminars

20

X

X

X

X




X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

Private Study

246













X

X

X

X

X

X

X




X

X

Assessment method

Specify word length, duration, individual or group work (as appropriate)











































Case commentary (40%)

2000 words

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

Essay (60%)

3000 words

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X



  1. The School recognises and has embedded the expectations of current disability equality legislation, and supports students with a declared disability or special educational need in its teaching. Within this module we will make reasonable adjustments wherever necessary, including additional or substitute materials, teaching modes or assessment methods for students who have declared and discussed their learning support needs. Arrangements for students with declared disabilities will be made on an individual basis, in consultation with the University’s disability/dyslexia student support service, and specialist support will be provided where needed.



  1. Campus(es) or Centre(s) where module will be delivered:

Canterbury

FACULTIES SUPPORT OFFICE USE ONLY

Revision record – all revisions must be recorded in the grid and full details of the change retained in the appropriate committee records.

Date approved

Major/minor revision

Start date of the delivery of revised version

Section revised

Impacts PLOs
(Q6 & 7 cover sheet)

21/11/16

Minor

Sep-16

3,11,12

No

















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