Surrey University Stag

LAW AND CONTEMPORARY SOCIAL ISSUES - 2023/4

Module code: LAW2096

Module Overview

Societies, just like individuals, routinely face hard decisions about what they value and hope to achieve. What form of government should they have? How much say should people have in particular government decisions? What balance should we strike between competing values such as freedom, equality, prosperity, and safety? What parts of individual’s lives should be controlled only by them? Should we punish people who break the law, and if so, how? How should our society behave towards other societies? And what is the role of law in all this? Any serious attempt to answers questions like these involves engagement with key concepts in social and political philosophy – concepts like authority, democracy, liberty, rights, justice, and equality. In this module, we will look closely at these concepts and the role that they play in some important and challenging arguments about controversial social and political issues. We will also scrutinise important legal cases and statutes related to these debates.

Module provider

School of Law

Module Leader

NEWHOUSE Marie (Schl of Law)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 5

JACs code: M240

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 117

Lecture Hours: 11

Seminar Hours: 22

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

None

Module content


  • Democracy and legitimacy

  • The nature and limits of judicial authority

  • Rights and liberty

  • Liberal society and toleration

  • Equality under law and equality of opportunity

  • Public and private discrimination

  • Our obligation to obey the law and civil disobedience

  • Criminal justice and punishment

  • Justice and migration

  • Justice and injustice in war


Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework 3,000 word summative essay 100

Alternative Assessment

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Assessment Strategy


  • Formative (essay, 1500 words)

  • Summative (essay, 3000 words)



During weeks 2-5, students will have the option to do two short exercises in relation to critical writing (around 5-600 words each), leading into the formative. Each exercise will involve summarising an argument from the reading and critically evaluating it, perhaps also adding one’s own thoughts on the matter. Specific instructions for the exercises will be given in due time.

Module aims

  • To familiarise students with some the main issues and arguments in social and political philosophy, and with important legal cases and statutes related to these debates.
  • To train students in reading complex texts, for the purpose of identifying and reconstructing their main theses.
  • To train students in critically evaluating challenging arguments and in presenting that evaluation with rigour and clarity.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Read and comprehend challenging philosophical texts relating to fundamental social issues CKPT
002 Critically evaluate some of the dominant positions in social and political philosophy CKPT
003 Develop an awareness of how important social issues may come up in legislation and case law CKPT
004 Develop an ability to reason cogently and clearly about abstract issues and to identify their potential practical implications CKPT
005 Undertake directed research CPT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

help students to engage directly with complex philosophical ideas related to contemporary social issues and evaluate the role in law in debates about these matters. The module’s weekly Roundtable Seminar format is designed to demystify seemingly intimidating ideas and empower students to practice discussing, deploying, and evaluating challenging philosophical arguments. Students are expected to arrive at every 2-hour Roundtable Seminar prepared to make at least one substantive contribution to the class discussion. Weekly 1-hour Lectures will support students by establishing baseline knowledge of key concepts and readings.

 

Lectures: 1 hour x 11 weeks

Seminars: 2 hours x 11 weeks

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list

https://readinglists.surrey.ac.uk
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: LAW2096

Other information

n/a

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Law (Philosophy, Politics and Law Pathway) LLB (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Law LLB (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Law (Law and Technology Pathway) LLB (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2023/4 academic year.