Law and Social Change - LW570

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
Canterbury Spring
View Timetable
6 15 (7.5) DR H Gibson







This module investigates the relationship between law and social change, and explores the political, economic and social dynamics that affect this relationship over time. We will consider questions such as:
• Why is the law a terrain of social struggle?
• How does the law respond and/or contribute to social change? How can the law be harnessed for social change?
• How do the values or worldviews that the law incorporates affect the legal advancement of social change?
• How does the character of the law change in relation to different social, economic and political dynamics?
• What are the obstacles and limitations to the law contributing to and creating social change?
• How can we engage with the law to pursue change towards social justice?
The first part of the module examines the relationship between law and social change as addressed by some key classical and contemporary social theorists. This exploration is then extended with an analysis of how and to what extent social movements can affect legal reform and contribute to social change. The second part of the module investigates a number of concepts and areas in relation to which the approaches and ideas explored in the previous part can be applied, questioned, reframed or expanded. These concepts and areas are morality, democracy, globalisation, rights and citizenship, and the role of legal professions in social change. The module wraps up with a student-led session on their essay-in progress.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

One hour lecture and one hour seminar per week.

Method of assessment

100% coursework consisting of a research essay of 6000 words.

Indicative reading

M Sandel Justice: What's The Right Thing to Do? (Penguin, 2009)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

On completion of this module students will be able to:
Employ a range of theoretical approaches to understanding law, morality, and social change, by exploring diverse perspectives, and selected case studies.
Further develop a facility for independent, critical thinking on the history, and social and political character of legal change.
Reflect upon and analyse the moral and ethical content and impact of law as it impacts on social change.
Demonstrate advanced research and writing skills
Engage in a critical discussion of the nature, function and effects of law as it has been, is, ought to and/or might be expressed in the bringing about of social change
Undertake explorations, demonstrations, critical evaluations and engagements in the context of moral discourse, social struggle, conflict resolution and social integration
Demonstrate an awareness of the economic, political and/or social implications of legal forms and remedies in the pursuit of social change.

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