A critical law school
In considering where to study law, you will notice that university law schools vary. Some are 'black letter' (focused only on teaching you the legal rules and principles). Other law schools describe themselves as socio-legal or emphasise a 'law in context' or 'critical approach'.
One of the distinctive things about Kent is that we are a 'critical law school'. This has been an integral part of Kent Law School's ethos and mission for more than four decades. While we will teach you about legal rules and principles, we believe it is important that you understand the contexts in which laws arise; what laws seek to do; and what are their effects.
A critical law school doesn't mean focusing only on what is wrong or bad. But it believes that a really good legal education should help you to look beneath the surface of laws and legal decisions, to see the 'bigger picture'. This means a critical legal education involves politics, history, philosophy, sociology and culture; it gets you thinking about different kinds of legal system, about power, and about who benefits and loses from different decisions.
While some people see the law as a tool that can be wielded to achieve particular outcomes, legal decisions and laws also have unintended effects – a law, for instance, to promote racial equality may end up working instead to promote racial inequality. At Kent Law School, our focus is on law's complexity and contradictions - because they are present and powerful, but also because studying them makes for a more stimulating and interesting degree programme.
Studying law at Kent, we know that many of you will want to have a career as lawyers, government officials, and judges; perhaps you want to be a lawyer because you love debating or perhaps you feel the law can be used to create a more just society. The ability to think critically and the flexible appreciation of the bigger picture which we foster at Kent are key skills in the practice of law.
A Kent law degree, however, isn't just a foundation for a legal career. Our critical approach to legal education, and the opportunities it provides for you to approach law from lots of different angles (including those of ethics, politics, and literature to name just a few) mean you will graduate with an excellent, highly regarded honours degree for whatever career you pursue.
Professor Toni Williams
Head of Kent Law School