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School of Law

Sociological Approaches to Law

Course Code:
Course Not Running 2015/2016
Unit value:
Taught in:
Term 1

In this course we set out the analytical (concepts and relationships), normative (values and interests) and empirical (facts and methods) heart of sociology, and ask what sociological approaches bring to the study of law. The approach is practical (drawing on real life examples) critical (highlighting both the merits and limitations) and contemporary.  The course complements the half option Economic Approaches to Law (15PLAH030) but can be followed independently. It also serves as a useful reference point for other courses that address law’s complex relationships with ‘the social’. No prior knowledge of sociology is necessary. Extensive use is made of e-learning tools.  

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

At the end of the course, a student should be able to demonstrate:

Subject Specific
  • Basic knowledge of analytical, empirical and normative features of sociology.
  • Understanding of how sociological normative, empirical and analytical tools can be used to explain and predict socio-legal phenomena, and to choose between laws and institutions
  • Understanding of the limitations of the sociological approach to law
  • Awareness of the existence of multiple sociological approaches to law.
  • Legal and philosophical analysis
  • Critical reflection
  • Interdisciplinary study
  • Appreciation of practical outcome from theory
  • Interdisciplinary analysis


Students are expected to attend one 2 hour seminar for 10 weeks.

Method of assessment

100% coursework (one 6,000 word essay)

All coursework may be resubmitted.

Suggested reading

S. Bruce (2000) Sociology: A very short introduction Oxford: OUP.