Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)


Department: Law


Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • • The Individual and the State (LAW1081), UK Constitutional Law (LAW1091), Introduction to English Law and Legal Methods (LAW1121); at the discretion of the Convener, a suitable module from another Department may be substituted for the Law pre-requisite(s)).


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • Jurisprudence (LAW3291).


  • To provide a critical introduction to the core positions in legal philosophy.
  • To develop the research and methodological skills necessary for the philosophical study of law.
  • To develop the students’ critical awareness of the law in its broader social and political context.


  • The module will introduce traditional themes and concepts from legal and political philosophy. Students will engage with classic texts covering a range of topics such as:
  • Is there a duty to obey the law?
  • What is the best way to conceive of the relationship between law and morality?
  • Students will also be introduced to contemporary applications of legal philosophy that could include post-modern jurisprudence or feminist jurisprudence.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module, students will be able to identify, reconstruct and distinguish philosophical approaches to law.
  • Students will become familiar with foundational concepts in political philosophy and general jurisprudence
  • Demonstrate understanding of the relevance of philosophy to the study of law.
  • Demonstrate a familiarity with some of the most classic literature in legal philosophy.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will learn how to read and engage with philosophical texts.
  • Students will learn how to critique philosophical arguments and construct their own.
  • Develop a broad understanding of alternative methodologies to approach legal philosophy.
  • Effectively formulate and present theoretical and methodological arguments both orally and in writing.
  • Understand the limits to our own knowledge and how this might influence our analysis of law.
Key Skills:
  • Students should be able to demonstrate developed research and writing skills, including the ability to work independently and to take responsibility for their own learning.

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

  • Students will be given the opportunity to consolidate, develop, present and apply the knowledge acquired through independent study. Students will be encouraged to utilise the wide range of learning resources, including electronic sources, available within the university in order to make a contribution to their learning and assessment as well as enable them to acquire key and subject-specific skills.
  • Lectures deliver basic module-specific information, and provide a framework for further study.
  • Seminars provide opportunities for students to test their own understanding of the material studies, and defend and debate different opinions.
  • The formative presentation provides the opportunity for students to present and critique relevant arguments within a piece of work, uninhibited by the need for summative assessment.
  • The formative essay presents students the opportunity to test their knowledge and understanding of the selected reading.
  • The summative essay tests knowledge and understanding of the course material, and the ability to identify and explain issues covered in the module, and, using relevant research material, to present different approaches to those issues, and make reasoned judgement on the merits and demerits of such approaches.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
lectures 10 Normally once a fortnight 1 hour 10
seminars 10 Normally once a fortnight 1 hour 10
preparation and reading 180

Summative Assessment

Component: essay Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
summative essay 2,500 words 100% Y
Component: essay Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
summative essay 2,500 words 100% Y

Formative Assessment:

1: A group presentation in seminar of an essential reading; 2: A critical reflection (max 1,500 words) of an essential seminar reading (not to be same one that is presented)

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