Not available in 2019/20
LL4H7      Half Unit
Foundations of Legal Theory

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Ms Anne Barron NAB6.05


This course is available on the LLM (extended part-time), LLM (full-time) and University of Pennsylvania Law School LLM Visiting Students. 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 LSE for You.



Course content

Drawing on major themes of modern European philosophy, this course re-frames the questions that have been taken as defining jurisprudential inquiry: What accounts for the foundations of legal orders and their durability across space and time? How and why do legal norms change? What explains the normativity of law? What is the connection between sovereignty and legal validity? Is there a connection between democracy and legal validity? Is it part of the definition of a legal norm’s validity that it advances morality or the common good? Is it part of law’s essence that it institutionalizes individual rights, and if so, which ones? Throughout, these questions are addressed in relation to the philosophical tradition that links Kant, Hegel and Habermas; hence the focus of the course is on how, and how far, modern law enables the realisation of the ideals of autonomy and mutual recognition.


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

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

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

Indicative reading

Jürgen Habermas, Between Facts and Norms (Polity Press 1996); G.W.F. Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right (trans. H. Nisbet) (Cambridge University Press 1991); Immanuel Kant, Practical Philosophy (ed. Mary Gregor) (Cambridge University Press 1999); Henry Allison, Kant's Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals: A Commentary (OUP, 2011); Elisabeth Ellis, (ed.) Kant's Political Theory: Interpretations and Applications (Penn State UP, 2012); Arthur Ripstein, Force and Freedom: Kant’s Legal and Political Philosophy (Harvard University Press, 2009); Sari Kisilevsky and Martin J Stone (eds.) Freedom and Force: Essays on Kant's Legal Philosophy (Hart, 2017); Allen Wood, Hegel’s Ethical Thought (Cambridge University Press, 1990).


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

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2018/19: Unavailable

Average class size 2018/19: Unavailable

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills