LL4J1      Half Unit
Critical Perspectives on Legal Theory

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Anne Barron NAB6.05


This course is available on the 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 will be relevant to the following LLM specialisms: Legal Theory.

This course is capped at 30 students. Students must apply through Graduate Course Choice on LSEforYou.


Students must have completed LL4H7 (Foundations of Legal Theory) unless exempted from this requirement by the course convenor.

Course content

The aim of this course is to consider aspects of the phenomenon of law that have arguably been insulated from critical scrutiny by traditional jurisprudence. The questions structuring the seminars will accordingly include the following: What are the material conditions for law's existence as a legitimate structure of authoritative norms? What are the connections between law and other modalities of power that are not encoded in the form of sovereignty? What is the relationship between law and violence? What is the relationship between law and freedom? Are the forms of subjectivity and mutual recognition institutionalized by the legal order always linked with emancipatory social change, or can they also be complicit with processes of domination and exploitation? Is law necessary for individual and collective self-determination? These questions are approached from a variety of critical perspectives, including Marxist, post-Marxist and post-structuralist perspectives. Accordingly, the course will encourage reflection on the normative grounds for social criticism generally, and in particular on the role that ideas of progress and emancipation can or should play in a critical legal theory. 



20 hours of seminars in the LT. 2 hours of seminars in the ST.

Formative coursework

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

Indicative reading

Amy Allen, The Politics of Our Selves: Power, Autonomy and Gender in Contemporary Critical Theory (Columbia University Press 2007); Luc Boltanski, On Critique: A Sociology of Emancipation (Polity Press 2011); Diana Coole and Samantha Frost (eds.) New Materialisms: Ontology, Agency, and Politics (Duke UP 2010); Mitchell Dean, Governmentality: Power and Rule in Modern Society 2nd ed. (Sage 2009); Axel Honneth, The I in We: Studies in the Theory of Recognition (Polity Press 2012); Lois McNay, The Misguided Search for the Political: Social Weightlessness in Radical Democratic Theory (Polity 2014); Andrew Schaap (ed.) Law and Agonistic Politics (Ashgate 2009); Mark Wenman, Agonistic Democracy: Constituent Power in the Era of Globalization (Cambridge University Press, 2013); David West, Continental Philosophy: An Introduction (2nd ed.) (Polity, 2010); Allen Wood, Karl Marx (2nd ed.) (Oxford: Blackwells, 2004)


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours, reading time: 15 minutes) in the main exam period.

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2015/16: 5

Average class size 2015/16: 5

Controlled access 2015/16: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills