Law and Political Theory - LW578

Sorry, this module is not currently running in 2019-20.







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.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

Combined Lecture / Seminar – 40 hours per annum (approximately)

Method of assessment

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%)

Indicative reading

J Butler (2004) Precarious Life: The Power of Mourning and Violence (London: Verso)
M Hardt and Antonio Negri (2000) Empire (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press)
W Brown (2005) Edgework: Critical Essays on Knowledge and Politics (New Jersey: Princeton University Press)
C Schmidt (1996), The Concept of the Political. Trans. George Schwab. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press)
M Loughlin (2003), The Idea of Public Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

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

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