Legal Design - LAWS9360

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Autumn Term 7 20 (10) Amanda Perry-Kessaris checkmark-circle


This module explores the contribution that 'design thinking' can make to legal scholarship and practice. Graphic designers use images and/or text to communicate facts, concepts and values. They draw on a distinct set of rigorous, reflexive and user-centric processes, such as ideation and prototyping, which are now commonly referred to as ‘design thinking’. These design processes help to produce communications, such as diagrams or info-graphics, that promote what many (from totalitarian propagandists to anti-establishment protesters) regard as core legal goals: for example, accessibility, clarity and efficiency. Furthermore, design thinking provokes closer, deeper and wider engagement with the very ideas that are being communicated. So design thinking also provides students with important alternative mechanisms with which to create, research, test and evaluate legal ideas. Finally, a critical approach, such as that adopted in this module, ensures the assumptions and intentions underlying a particular design project are never taken for granted, always exposed and tested. For all of these reasons the design thinking skill set is sought after, increasingly and explicitly, by employers such as private law firms and government departments.


Contact hours

Total study hours: 200
Contact hours: 20
Private study hours: 180


LLM (Specialisation); LLM Law; PG Diploma (Specialisation); PG Certificate in Law

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods

100% coursework, comprising, either:

An essay on a topic approved by the convenor (no more than 5,000 words) – 100%
A piece of legal design (30%) and a critical reflection on the design and the design process (3000 words, 70%)

Reassessment methods

Reassessment instrument (100% coursework)

Indicative reading

• 99 Percent Invisible. Podcast. Available at <>.
• Armstrong, H. (2009) Graphic Design Theory Princeton: Princeton Architectural Press.
• Berger J. (1972) Ways of Seeing London: Penguin.
• Hagan, M. Law by design Available at
• Lupton, E. and Miller, J. (1996) Design Writing Research London: Phaidon Press.
• Perry-Kessaris, A (forthcoming 2020) Doing Sociolegal Research in Design Mode Routledge
• Perry-Kessaris, A. (commissioned for 2018) Legal Design: policy practice activism research Journal of Law and Society
• 'Perry-Kessaris A (2017) 'The pop-up museum of legal objects project: an experiment in 'sociolegal design' 68:2 Northern Ireland Legal

Learning outcomes

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

1. Demonstrate a systematic understanding of the fundamental concepts and principles at issue in contemporary critical design thinking as it
relates to law.
2. Apply fundamental concepts and principles of design thinking, with originality, to contemporary legal contexts and debates, and reflect on
the benefits and limitations of that process.
3. Demonstrate a critical understanding of current sociological, historical and political perspectives towards claims about objectivity and
neutrality in design as it relates to law.
4. Undertake detailed independent legal design research.
5. Present detailed critical arguments in relation to law and design.

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

1. Carry out further independent research, synthesising material from a variety of sources.
2. Present relevant knowledge and understanding with originality.
3. Identify, critically assess and evaluate complex issues and problems according to their historical, political and cultural contexts.
4. Express themselves with high standards of coherence, with appropriate use of citation, and by the use of effective word processing.


  1. Credit level 7. Undergraduate or postgraduate masters level module.
  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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