LL4CA      Half Unit
Law and Social Theory

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Tatiana Flessas NAB 7.27 and Dr Umberto-Igor Stramignoni NAB 7.17


This course is available on the MSc in Criminal Justice Policy, MSc in Law, Anthropology and Society, MSc in Regulation, MSc in Regulation (Research), Master of Laws and Master of Laws (extended part-time study). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course is capped at 30 students. LLM Specialisms This course will be relevant to the following LLM specialism: Legal Theory

Course content

This course explores the role of law in society. Much has been written on the theme of law and society, and much of what has been written is itself implicated in the process of legal studies. This course begins elsewhere. By means of a set of interlinked case studies it addresses some quite fundamental theoretical questions about law and society: what exactly do we expect, or enact, by the deployment of law in emerging or new social and technological contexts? As new ‘epidemics’ (for example, ‘the obesity epidemic’) or identities (for example, ‘third gender’) come into focus in the modern world, ‘law’ becomes implicated, and is often central, in their construction as social phenomena. This course explores how law and social theory evolve and operate both in tandem and in conflict in these new areas. Law operates as a discourse, technique, form or set of institutions; to what extent are its functions understood by the claimants that expect law to legitimise (or otherwise) emerging social and technological constellations? Although the course is organised in terms topics or questions, rather than authors or texts, it will renew engagement with a number of now classic authors while at the same time exploring newer theoretical and historical scholarship on the spatiality of modernity.


20 hours of seminars in the LT.

Formative coursework

All students are expected to produce one 2,000 word formative essay during the course.

Indicative reading

Luhmann, Social Systems; Foucault, The History of Sexuality (3 vols); Foucault, Discipline and Punish; Murphy, The Oldest Social Science?; Butler, Bodies That Matter; Butler, The Psychic Life of Power:  Theories in Subjection; Fausto-Sterling, Sexing the Body:  Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality; Rancière, The Politics of Aesthetics: The Distribution of the Sensible; Yoshino, Covering:  The Hidden Assault on our Civil Rights.


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2012/13: Unavailable

Average class size 2012/13: Unavailable

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information