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School of Law

Law, Multiculturalism and Rights

Course Code:
155200064
Unit value:
1
Year of study:
Year 3 of 3 or Year 4 of 4
Taught in:
Full Year

This module aims to introduce students to a range of theoretical and legal approaches to the study of law, multiculturalism and rights and to equip them with the critical tools to apply a critique to the liberal conception of ‘rights’. In doing so it provides a critique of legal concepts, categories and reasoning in a variety of context while drawing upon debates on intersectionality and an interdisciplinary framework for the study of law, legal disputes and legal pluralism.

It looks at the international, European and national framework for the protection of rights for minority groups living in culturally diverse multicultural societies with a specific focus on British society and English law. It includes analysis of claims for the introduction of personal systems of family law for diasporic Muslim communities and issues of religion including debates on manifestation of religious beliefs and practice. In doing so it introduces students to the concept of rights/ freedom and freedoms, justice and equality and the historical development of the legal protection of religious and cultural beliefs in the UK.

There are two strands of content.  Term one provides an introduction to a range of theoretical approaches to the study of law, multiculturalism and rights and the tools they provide for a critical understanding of the issues raised in the critiques of liberal political theory, law, rights and human rights debates.  Term two a series of lectures and tutorials provides drawn from specific and areas of law (with indepth analysis of case-law and statutory instruments.

Topics covered include:

  • Theorising the relationship between liberal political theory, multiculturalism and the law;
  • Minority Rights and Identity based group rights;
  • Legal Pluralism and the lived reality of law;
  • Secularism and freedom of religion;
  • Intersectionality and feminist analyses: Is multiculturalism bad for women?
  • Religious and Cultural Diversity and English Family Law;
  • Religion and Anti-discrimination Law;
  • Freedom of Expression and Hate Crimes
  • Sexuality and Sexual Orientation and Rights debates.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

  • Critically evaluate the relevance of debates on multiculturalism and ‘rights’ in law and legal policy and the relevance of legal interventions in areas of family law and religion and anti-discrimination law;
  • Articulate coherent arguments in support of theoretical position on issues of politics, liberalism and liberal legality;
  • Illustrate the application of multiculturalism, rights and law considerations in regard to specific areas of law and develop arguments in favour of reform;
  • Demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the legal frameworks for the protection of freedom of religion at the national, regional and international levels; 
  • Demonstrate an awareness of the historical development of the legal; protection of cultural and religious diversity;
  • Demonstrate skills of legal research and writing;
  • Demonstrate appropriate oral presentation skills;
  • Demonstrate knowledge on debates on intersectionality and socio-legal research in law and legal policy;   
  • Engage in independent research and creative thinking.

Method of assessment

  • Coursework: 30% (3000 words)
  • Unseen written exam: 70%

Suggested reading

  • Levey B. G and T Modood (2009) Secularism, Religion and Multicultural Citizenship, (eds.) Cambridge University Press.
  • Shah, P and Foblet, M and M, Rohe (2014) Family, Law and Religion, (eds.) Ashgate.
  • Spivak, G. (1988) ‘Can the subaltern speak?’ in Nelson, N and Grossberg, L (eds) Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, Chicago: Illinos UP
  • Yuval-Davis, N. (2011) The Politics of Belonging: Intersectional Contestations, Sage.
  • Said, E. (1978) Orientalism, Penguin Books.