Morality and Law - LAWS6040

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Autumn Term 6 15 (7.5) Giacomo Fusco checkmark-circle


Block 1. Critical introduction to major theories of morality: virtue theory (incl. feminist ethics of care), deontological theory (incl. natural law theory and Kantian theory) and consequentialism (utilitarianism).
Block 2. A historical/contextual examination of the development of a particular moral concept; that of individual rights
Block 3. Oral presentations by students in pairs
Block 4. An analytical examination and critique of modern theories of rights and their relationship to law


Contact hours

Total Study Hours: 150
Private Study Hours: 130
Total Contact Hours: 20


All Law programmes.

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods

The module will be assessed by 100% coursework as follows:
Oral presentation, in pairs (40%)
Essay, 2500 words (60%)

Reassessment methods

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

Indicative reading

Chapters/excerpts from the following books:
Waldron, J. ed., Theories of Rights (New York: Oxford University Press, 1984)
Simmonds, N. E. Central Issues in Jurisprudence: Justice, Law and Rights, Fourth edition, (London: Sweet and Maxwell, 2013)
Kant, I. Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, any edition
Stuart Mill, J. Utilitarianism, any edition
Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics, any edition
Noddings, N. The Ethics of Care, any edition
Locke, J. The Second Treatise on Government, any edition
Curran, E. Reclaiming the Rights of the Hobbesian Subject (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2007)
Hobbes, T. Leviathan, ed C B Macpherson, (Penguin classics 1968) (or any other edition)
Skinner, Q. Hobbes and Republican Liberty (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008)
Hohfeld, W. Fundamental Legal Conceptions (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1919)
Hacker and Raz eds. Law, Morality and Society (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977)
Macormick, N. Legal Right and Social Democracy (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982)
Kramer, Simmonds and Steiner eds. A Debate over Rights (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998)

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. Understand the historical development of a key moral and political concept and its complex relationship to law and theories of law.
2. Demonstrate knowledge of the ways that the notion of morality has been analysed within moral philosophy and how various moral theories
have affected the development of law.
3. Analyse and understand the historical and political development of the notion of a right.
4. Analyse, evaluate and engage with the arguments that are used to justify, defend and attack the notion of individual rights.
5. Critically evaluate and analyse the ways in which rights have been understood and incorporated into law.
6. Demonstrate an understanding of the ways in which theories of rights intersect law, moral philosophy and political theory.
7. Demonstrate conceptual analysis of the complex notion of 'individual rights' and appreciate its significance for law, political theory and
moral philosophy.

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

1. Analyse and evaluate complex material across several disciplines (law, theory of law, moral philosophy, history of philosophy).
2. Demonstrate understanding, analysis and argumentation in a written piece of work, using a variety of legal and non-legal sources.
3. Discuss complex ideas and arguments


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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