Law and Political Theory - LAWS5780

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


This module is designed to provide an understanding of the interrelationship between political theory and law in modernity. Drawing upon political theory it explores ideas of law, power, resistance, community, sovereignty and the subject. The objective is to build a solid understanding of political theory in relation to these key concepts, and then use this understanding to examine contemporary political and juridical questions such as those of democracy and citizenship; multiculturalism, bio-politics, secularism, terrorism, post-colonialism and contemporary formations of Empire. In so doing, the module seeks to equip students with the necessary intellectual tools for deploying insights from political theory and philosophy to the study of law.


Contact hours

Total Study Hours: 300
Contact Hours: 40
Private Study Hours: 260


LLB in Law and available as option to all Social Sciences students

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods

The module will be assessed by 100% coursework consisting of:

• Essay, 4500 words (40%);
• Individual oral presentation (20%);
• Reflective Piece, 3000 words (30%);
• Seminar participation (10%)

Reassessment methods

The module will be reassessed by a reassessment instrument of an essay for 100%.

Indicative reading

Agamben, G, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, Trans. Daniel Heller-Roazen (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998).
Foucault, M, "Society Must Be Defended", Lectures at the Collège de France, 1975-1976.
Hardt, M and Negri, A, Empire (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000).
Hobbes, T, Leviathan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991).
Membe, A. "Necropolitics" Public Culture, 15/1 2003, pp. 11-40
Schmitt, C, The Concept of the Political, Trans. George Schwab. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996).

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

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

1. Demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the significance of political theory in attending to contemporary juridical and political problems;
2. Demonstrate an appreciation of juridical and philosophical ideas about sovereignty and how these shape the relationship between law and
the subject;
3. Demonstrate a detailed knowledge and understanding of the distinctions between the ideas of state, civil society, sovereign/subject and
4. Demonstrate detailed knowledge and understanding of the origins of the aforementioned ideas in modernity/post-modernity and their
significance for resolving contemporary juridical problems;
5. Demonstrate detailed knowledge and understanding of the history of political and philosophical ideas in relation to the concept of
6. Demonstrate critical understanding of the relationship between political theory and theories which underpin 'the law';
7. Demonstrate a detailed understanding of modern theories of power and authority and their relation to societies in transition (post-racist,
post-conflict societies).

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

1. Critically analyse complex contemporary juridical problems;
2. Demonstrate sophisticated and complex theoretical arguments gained through reading and understanding;
3. Demonstrate independent research and draw on different sources to produce an analysis of juridical and political problems;
4. Formulate research questions and independently identify contemporary issues that can be examined through political theory.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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