Not available in 2019/20
LL4L5      Half Unit
Socio-legal Theory and Practice

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Meredith Rossner NAB 6.33


This course is compulsory on the MPhil/PhD in Law (Socio-Legal Theory). 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.

Proposed +4 ESRC PhD students registered in the law department (and in other departments with permission).

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

Course content

This course will explore the interface between social theory, methodology and socio-legal practice. After an initial engagement with literature on the history, scope and nature of doctrinal, realist, critical and socio-legal approaches to law, the course will focus on seminal empirical studies of law and legal phenomena. In particular students will be asked to identify how specific theoretical frameworks for research have influenced choice of methodology, methods and the subsequent interpretation of data. Empirical studies exploring central legal concepts such as rights, regulation, access to justice, judgment, neutrality, due process and equality will be selected for in-depth analysis. An important feature of the course is that authors of leading socio-legal research outputs will be invited to lead 'master classes' in order to discuss the intellectual origins of their work and how this impacted on design and implementation.


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

Students will be asked to prepare a poster presentation outlining the theoretical framework, methodological choices, ethical implications and practical obstacles for a research project they would like to undertake. The 'ideas map' they present will be used as a plan for the formal summative assessment. Each student will present their poster to the class before week seven of the term and will receive detailed feedback on their presentation by the end of the same term. This will give students the time to reflect on the comments made before writing up their ideas in their course dissertation A fuller version of the presentation will later be submitted as the coursework component of the course. This is an unusual form of assessment for law students but is used extensively in other disciplines. Students will be directed to websites which provide guidance in preparing a poster presentation and will also be given the opportunity to study examples of posters collected by the course convenor.

Indicative reading

Roger Cotterrell, Why Must Legal Ideas Be Interpreted Sociologically? (1998) 25 Journal of Law and Society pp171-92; David Nelken, Blinding Insights? The Limits of Reflexive Sociology of Law (1998) 25 Journal of Law and Society 407-26; Simon Halliday and Patrick Scmidt (eds) Conducting law and Society Research: Reflections on methods and Practices, Cambridge University Press, 2009; Max Travers, The sociology of law in Britain The American Sociologist, Vol 32, no 2, June 2001.


Essay (100%, 8000 words) in the ST.

The essay will take the form of a research proposal (100%).

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2018/19: 6

Average class size 2018/19: 5

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills