Not available in 2019/20
LL4J1      Half Unit
Critical Perspectives on 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 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 putatively 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, post-structuralist, and post-colonialist 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.

There will be a reading week in week 6.

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); Amy Allen, The End of Progress: Decolonizing the Normative Foundations of Critical Theory (Columbia University Press, 2016); 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); 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 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