CL6328: Global Problems and Legal Theory

School Cardiff Law School
Department Code LAWPL
Module Code CL6328
External Subject Code M240
Number of Credits 30
Level L6
Language of Delivery English
Module Leader Professor John Harrington
Semester Double Semester
Academic Year 2016/7

Outline Description of Module

This module introduces students to Legal Theory (or Jurisprudence) through studying the problems posed by globalization of politics and the economy and the manner in which law responds to them. It provides a thorough introduction to key legal philosophies, by investigating their practical relevance to the ‘real world’ problems faced by litigators, judges and citizens around the world.

The structure of the module is driven by concrete global problems, for example, human trafficking, poverty, and the exploitation of workers. In each case a specific approach to legal theory is studied for the insights which it can provide on the nature of these problems and in particular the manner in which wrongs can be addressed across borders.

On completion of the module a student should be able to

  1. appreciate the challenges to legal regulation posed by globalization

  2. understand and critique key theories in the philosophy of law

  3. develop legal theoretical perspectives on global problems

  4. argue for national and international law reforms to address them

How the module will be delivered

10 x 30 minute recorded lectures

12 x 1 hour student-led team work

12 x 2 hours seminars

While maintaining the contact hours and level of student work required of a traditional 30 credit module, this module is structured so as to maximize student engagement.

Work for a typical unit runs as follows:

  1. Students listen to a recorded lecture introducing the relevant legal theory and read a brief description of the global problem to which it is related.

  2. Students come to a one-hour session in class, working in pre-allocated teams of 4/5 on relating the theory to the case study; they prepare a presentation for following seminar. These sessions are supervised by a module tutor who will help groups with their work. Attendance at this session is compulsory.

  3. Students come to a formal seminar lead by a module tutor. They discuss the material covered in the student-led session, and explore the legal theory in greater depth having done set reading for the semninar. Attendance is also compulsory.

Skills that will be practised and developed

Intellectual Skills:

When presented with a position in legal theory, students will be able to:

  1. present and analyse the arguments underpinning such a position
  2. identify its usefulness in understanding global problems
  3. clarify the strengths and weaknesses of a theoretical argument 
  4. identify and engage with advanced literature in the area exploring the basis, defensibility and potential development of such arguments

Discipline Specific (including practical) Skills:

At the end of this module, students will be able to present accurately and succinctly, and in written form:

1) theoretical propositions embodying the philosophical positions under review

2) discuss intelligently the implications of such theoretical standpoints

3) develop own arguments based on independent research activity

4) conduct research in areas of globalization and legal theory.

Transferable Skills:

By the of the module students are expected to have  learnt:

1) to write a clear and articulate analysis that includes both contextual and political perspectives.

2) to study carefully and in detail complex legal texts

3) participate in team work to understand this material

4) relate theoretical positions to practical problems

5) make seminar presentations on material studied

How the module will be assessed

The module is assessed by two 3,000 words essays. The assessment, on the basis of two researched essays, requires students to demonstrate an ability to identify the range of relevant arguments and through the exercise of critical judgement and evaluation offer a reasoned analysis of the topic set. Students’ essays are expected to adhere to academic writing standards.

The module is formatively assessed by a continuous formative assessment method (Appreciative Inquiry) which combines independent learning activities (e.g. writing short essays), and in-class learning support. Before each seminar students are expected to do specific written tasks (e.g. writing an essay plan). During seminars students are provided with immediate positive feedback for the in class activities. Seminars also involve in-class small group work leading to plenary discussions and debates. A formative assessment of 1,500 words is set each term.

Assessment Breakdown

Type % Title Duration(hrs)
Written Assessment 50 Global Problems And Legal Theory - Essay 1 N/A
Written Assessment 50 Global Problems And Legal Theory - Essay 2 N/A

Syllabus content

Introduction - What is globalization? What does it mean for law?

Sovereignty and Globalization - Positivism and Legal Pluralism: Hart, Twining

Human trafficking - Transnational legal theory: Zumbansen

Poverty, development aid - Theories of Justice: Pogge, Singer, Fraser

Historic injustices: East Germany - Law and Morality Debate: Hart, Fuller

Supply chains and exploitation of workers - Marxist Theories of Law

Security and the War on Terror - States of Emergency: Carl Schmitt, Giorgio Agamben

Judicial power and democracy: South Africa - Critical Legal Studies

Cultural relativism and women’s rights  - Feminist Legal Theory

Discrimination and migration - Critical Race Theory







Essential Reading and Resource List

  • Twining, W (2001) Globalization and Legal Theory. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

  • Hart, H. L. A.,. (1994). The Concept of Law. Oxford, Clarendon Press.
  • Cotterrell, R. (1992). The Politics of Jurisprudence : a critical introduction to legal philosophy. Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press

  • Sousa Santos, B (2002) Towards a New Legal Common Sense London, Butterworths.

  • Zumbansen, P and GP Calliess, (2010) A Theory of Transnational Private Law (Oxford, Hart).

  • Freeman, M. D. A. and D. L. Lloyd of Hampstead (2001). Lloyd's Introduction to Jurisprudence. London, Sweet & Maxwell.

  • Halpin, A and V Roeben (eds), Theorizing the Global Legal Order. Oxford, Hart 2009.

Background Reading and Resource List

  • Bix, B. (2003). Jurisprudence : theory and context. London, Sweet & Maxwell

  • Hart, H. L. A. (1958). "Positivism and the Separation of Law and Morals". Harvard Law Review 71 (4): 593–629. doi:10.2307/1338225

  • Fuller, Lon L. (1958). "Positivism and Fidelity to Law — A Reply to Professor Hart". Harvard Law Review 71 (4): 630–672. doi:10.2307/1338226
  • Berns, S. (1993). Concise jurisprudence. Leichhardt, NSW, Federation Press.
  • Davies, H. and D. Holdcroft (1991). Jurisprudence : texts and commentary. London, Butterworths.
  • Dworkin, R. M. (1978). Taking rights seriously. Cambridge, Mass, Harvard University Press. Chapters 2 and 3.
  • George, R. P. (1996). The autonomy of law : essays on legal positivism. Oxford, Clarendon Press.
  • Harris, J. W. (1997). Legal philosophies. London, Butterworth.
  • Kerruish, V. (1991). Jurisprudence as ideology. London, Routledge.
  • Kelsen, H. and M. Knight (1989). Pure theory of law. Gloucester, Mass, Peter Smith.
  • MacCormick, N. (1978). Legal reasoning and legal theory. Oxford, Clarendon Press
  • Wacks, R. (1984). "Judging Judges." SALJ, (101): 295.
  • Wacks, R. (1984). "Judges and Injustice." SALJ, (101): 266.

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