Introduction to Law: Legal Foundations and Fundamental Questions

  • Summer schools
  • Department of Law
  • Application code SS-LL101
  • Starting 2019
  • Short course: Open
  • Location: Houghton Street, London

This course introduces students to the subject and methods of law. Its focus is twofold: it examines the fundamentals of legal systems, and the nature of the English legal system in particular, and it introduces students to a range of key legal concepts and debates that span subjects from crime and punishment to climate change.

The course is designed to be of interest to those in or aspiring to fields such as government, media, administration, and the social sciences and humanities generally, as well as prospective law students.

Session: One
Dates: 17 June – 5 July 2019
Convenor: Ms Sarah Trotter
Lectures will be given by subject specialist members of LSE’s Law Department.


Programme details

Key facts

Level: 100 level. Read more information on levels in our FAQs

Fees:  Please see Fees and payments

Lectures: 42 hours 

Classes: 16 hours

Assessment*: One essay (50%) and one written examination (50%)

Typical credit**: 3-4 credits (US) 7.5 ECTS points (EU)

*Assessment is optional

**You will need to check with your home institution

For more information on exams and credit, read Teaching and assessment



Programme structure

The first week of the course will be spent tackling fundamental questions about legal systems. The lectures in the morning will be devoted to examining the nature and workings of the English legal system, and the afternoon classes will be spent locating the English legal system in a comparative perspective. The topics examined during this week will include the legal profession and the judiciary, sources of law, and legal procedure; and this section of the course will conclude with a visit to the courts in London.

The course will then move on to introduce students to a range of legal fields, including criminal justice, public law, human rights law, EU law, environmental law, and private law. Each field will be introduced by way of a focus on its key concepts and fundamental debates. These include: how and why do we punish offenders? What is a constitution? What is the relationship between the individual and the State? How are we to understand the EU and its legal order? Can the courts save us from climate change? Which promises should the law of contract enforce? We will use these key concepts and debates to think critically about the functions and limits of law and about how, more broadly, we should think about law. Students will accordingly gain on this course an understanding of the subject and methods of law and the critical skills to debate fundamental legal questions.

Course outcomes

The aim of the course is to equip students with a critical understanding of the fundamentals of the subject and methods of law. Students will leave the course with a grasp of the fundamentals of legal systems and of the English legal system in particular; an understanding of a range of foundational legal subjects and of the key legal concepts and debates that drive these subjects; and the capacity to critically debate fundamental legal questions.


LSE’s Law Department is one of the world’s best. In the UK, it was ranked first for research outputs in the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF) and in the top 5 law departments overall by The Complete University Guide in 2018. In the 2017 QS World University rankings, the Department was ranked seventh (out of 200 departments worldwide).

Many important subjects were first taught and examined systematically from an academic perspective in LSE’s Department of Law. We pioneered the study of banking law, taxation law, civil litigation, company law, labour law, family law, aspects of welfare law, and studies of the legal system and the legal profession, and continue to be the leading thinkers in our field.

On this three-week intensive programme, you will engage with and learn from full-time lecturers from the LSE’s law faculty.

Reading materials

A course pack of readings will be distributed at the beginning of the course.

Optionally, the following books might also be helpful:

Kate Malleson & Richard Moules, The Legal System, OUP, 4th edition (2010).

Martin Loughlin, The British Constitution: A Very Short Introduction, OUP, (2013).

*A more detailed reading list will be supplied prior to the start of the programme

**Course content, faculty and dates may be subject to change without prior notice

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