Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2022-2023 (archived)


Department: Law


Type Open Level 3 Credits 10 Availability Available in 2022/23 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • Introduction to English Law and Legal Method (LAW 1121).


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • This module compliments LAW3397, Law in Literature, combining a study of law in literature with the study of law in film. The two modules do not overlap and it is anticipated that students may choose to study one, or both of these modules.
  • This module will explore the relationship between individuals, law and culture, contrasting scholarly work with the portrayal of these themes in literature and film.
  • Therefore the primary aims of the course will be:
  • To equip students with a critical knowledge and understanding of the ways in which the relationship between individuals, law and culture are portrayed in literature and film and the theoretical underpinnings thereof.
  • To allow students to improve their contextual skills by enabling them to consider law in its socio, political, economic and cultural context.
  • To examine the relationship between aspects of law (metalaw) and the portrayal thereof in literature and film.
  • To enable students to develop an interdisciplinary approach to the analysis of law, literature and film.
  • To foster a critical awareness of socio-legal debates on law and its portrayal in literature and film.


  • A selection from the following topics:
  • The law and nature of law: natural law theory; legal positivism; legal realism
  • The relationship law in politics, law as politics
  • The nature of the legal profession and its perception by society
  • The legal construction of sexuality
  • The social context of legislation
  • Law reform
  • The perception of law portrayed in film and literature.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students should be able to:
  • Use and understand relevant legal materials including legislation, common law and administrative rules.
  • Display a critical knowledge and understanding of law in literature and film.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students should be able to:
  • Understand the social, political and economic context in which law operates
  • Understand the ways in which law is portrayed in both literature and film and the impact of that portrayal upon law itself.
  • Identify and use primary and secondary legal sources and journals relevant to law, literature and film.
  • Identify contemporary debates and engage with these while accurately reporting the law in the area.
  • Evaluate developments in law in terms of doctrinal coherence, ethical acceptability and social efficiency.
  • Analyse the influence of law upon popular culture (through the mediums of literature and film) and the influence of popular culture (through the mediums of literature and film) upon law.
Key Skills:
  • Students should be able to:
  • Work independently to gain understanding of materials/issues in law in literature and film.
  • Understand and utilise the language of law, literature and film.
  • Discuss sensitive, ethical and political questions in a constructive and coherent manner.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • This course introduces students to contemporary issues of law and considers the portrayal of law in literature and film, as well as the impact that literature and film have upon law.
  • The module will be taught by a combination of lectures (3 hours per fortnight) and tutorials
  • Lectures are used primarily to impart a framework of knowledge and to suggest approaches to evaluation and critical analysis;
  • Tutorials will be used to develop and enhance students' capacity for legal-problem solving in a particular factual situation, evaluative critical analysis and their appreciation of laws' linkage with broader fields of enquiry.
  • Assignments are used to develop the ability to evaluate the law in a critical and contextual way. The formative assessment will be a film or book review blog. This will require you to write a 1,000-word review of one film or one book that we study. The summative assessment will be an essay at the end of the course, requiring you to engage critically with the legal themes developed over the course. It tests the ability to focus on relevant legal issues and organise knowledge and argument appropriate to questions raised. It will provide the means for students to demonstrate the acquisition of subject knowledge and the development of their problem-solving skills.
  • Students will be supported and encouraged in the development of their research and writing skills.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 10 Weekly 1 hour 10
Tutorials 2 Two tutorials during the term 1 hour 2
Preparation and reading 88

Summative Assessment

Component: Summative essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
summative essay 3,000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

A 1,000-word book or film review blog entry.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University