Law and Development - LW885

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
(version 2)
Spring 7 20 (10) checkmark-circle


The module will deal with three main interrelated clusters of topics. The first topic is the relationship between law and economic development. This will involve a thorough examination of material ranging from classic sociology (Max Weber, notably) up to modern assertions of the economic superiority of the common law over civil law traditions. The second topic is the relationship between law and development understood in a wider sense than mere economic growth. This will involve, inter alia, an investigation of the relationship between law, human rights and democratisation, an examination of theories of the centrality of 'good governance' in effective development policies, and an introduction to the topic of ‘legal transplants’ and the associated concerns of comparative law scholarship. These two theoretical topics will be underpinned by an emphasis on the historical and ideological frameworks that have informed much of dominant legal thought on the subject. The third part of the module will deal with selected case studies, to provide students the opportunity to apply the theoretical and conceptual basis they have acquired in the first part of the course. These case studies could range from issues related to specific projects (for example, indigenous rights policies as relevant to a major infrastructure project financed by the World Bank), specific regions (for example, Afghanistan, the Balkans), and specific legal instruments (for example, the imposition of standard Bilateral Investment Treaties in North-South relations).


This module appears in the following module collections.


Autumn Term

Method of assessment

This module offers 2 patterns of assessment A & B, the pattern applied will be at the discretion of the convenor at the delivery campus.

Assessment pattern A
Students will be assessed through 2 assignments. They will be asked to write a 1000 word answer to an assigned question, to be handed in the week after reading week. This assessment will comprise 10% of their grade. The question will be drawn from seminar readings. The assignment is designed to assess students' ability to a) comprehend and summarize key debates (covered in assigned readings) in the Law and Development literature, and b) begin developing and presenting their own analysis of those debates. We anticipate that feedback on this assignment will benefit students enormously as they come to write their final essays.
The final method of assessment will be a written essay of 4-5000 words. This assessment is worth 90% of the final grade.

Assessment pattern B
The method of assessment will be a written essay of 5000 words for 100% of the grade.

In both A & B;
The essay title may be chosen from a list provided by the convenor during the term. Alternatively, students will be encouraged to devise their own essay topic within the subject-matter of the module, and in consultation with the convenor.

Assessment of student essays is undertaken in accordance with school Assessment Criteria which relate to the learning experiences envisaged as objectives of the module and also place particular emphasis upon the acquisition of relevant critical or evaluative skills.

The process of essay-writing will both develop and test students' capacity for analysis of issues related to law and development and their wider implications.

The process of essay-writing will also promote the acquisition by students of the capacity to engage in independent research and thought in the field. To this end, the convenor will be available to discuss the students’ essays, and in particular to help plan the essay’s structure and the research which will be undertaken prior to its completion.

The assessment tests the achievement of all learning outcomes

Indicative reading

Robert Cooter and Hans-Bernd Schäfer, Salomon's Knot- How Law Can End the Poverty of Nations (Princeton University Press 2012)
Kenneth W. Dam, The Law-Growth Nexus- The Rule of Law and Economic Development (Brookings 2006).
Mark Goodale and Sally Engle Merry (eds.), The Practice of Human Rights- Tracking law between the Global and the Local (CUP 2007).
Michael Likosky, Law, Infrastructure, and Human Rights (CUP 2006).
Ugo Mattei and Laura Nader, Plunder- When the Rule of Law is Illegal (Blackwell 2008)
Curtis J. Milhaupt and Katharina Pistor, Law & Capitalism- What Corporate Crises Reveal about Legal Systems and Economic Development around the World (University of Chicago Press 2008).
Jane Stromseth, David Wippman and Rosa Brooks, Can Might make Rights? Building the Rule of Law after Military Interventions (CUP 2006).
Celine Tan, Governance Through Development: Poverty Reduction Strategies, International Law and the Disciplining of Third World States (Routledge 2012)
Michael Trebilcock and Mariana Mota Prado, Advanced Introduction to Law and Development (Elgar 2014)
David M Trubek and Alvaro Santos (eds.), The New Law and Economic Development- A Critical Appraisal (CUP 2006)
Ngaire Woods, The Globalizers- The IMF, the World bank, and their Borrowers (Cornell UP 2007).

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module students will have acquired:
- Knowledge and understanding of the theoretical debates and academic controversies surrounding the relationship between law and economic development.
- Knowledge and understanding of the theoretical debates and academic controversies surrounding the relationship between law and democratization.
- Awareness and critical understanding of the major doctrines and policies directing current international and regional efforts in the field.
- A critical understanding of the advantages and drawbacks of 'conditionality' in development policy, particularly as it applies to demands for good governance and the observance of human rights.
- Knowledge and critical understanding of the place and role of law and legal institutions in efforts directed at the reconstruction of war-torn territories.
- The ability to place issues of law and development in their proper political, economic and social contexts.
- An awareness of the historical and ideological underpinnings of Western legal thought and international policy in the field of law and development.

On successful completion of the module students will have the ability to:
- Present relevant knowledge and understanding in the form of reasoned and supported argument through seminar discussion and coursework;
- Develop and apply their knowledge and understanding in the form of reasoned supported argument through seminar discussion and assessment;
- Carry out thorough research analysing various points of view and using wide sources.
- Express themselves to a high standard in a coherent written form as well as orally in the context of seminar discussion, with appropriate use of citation, and by the use of computer word processing.
- Find relevant primary and secondary material for research in hard copy and through electronic sources.
- Undertake further appropriate further training or research in the field.


  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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