SOAS University of London

School of Law

Law and Society in South Asia

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 3 of 3 or Year 4 of 4
Taught in:
Full Year

Law and society in South Asia - a comparative study of the current laws of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other South Asian countries. Major areas of study in the first half of the module are family law, including, for example, the dowry problem, the control of bigamy, joint Hindu family law, and the project of a uniform civil code. 

The second half focuses on constitutional laws and includes a study of fundamental rights and directive principles of state policy in India, secularism and freedom of religion, positive discrimination, public interest litigation, and the abolition of bonded labour.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

 On successful completion of the module, a student will:

  • Have acquired a sound knowledge of South Asian legal systems and an understanding of their origins and functions.
  • Be able to evaluate the role of South Asian laws as means of achieving social change and social justice.
  • Be able to illustrate how South Asian laws are embedded in social life and to identify the nexus between law and culture, identity, religion, economy, and politics.
  • Be able carry  out interdisciplinary analysis of South Asian legal issues, with an appropriate awareness of the purposes and limits of such a methodological approach.
  • Have acquired a deeper knowledge of various social science approaches to research into South Asian laws, and an understanding of their usefulness in relation to more narrowly legal approaches.
  • Have developed critical skills in dealing with cases, statutes, primary and secondary sources, and solving the specific problems presented by such materials in South Asian contexts.
  • Be able to carry out advanced independent research in the field of South Asian laws. aimed at explaining change and dynamics, making inferences about cause and effect through systematic comparison of cases and analysis of data.


  • Weekly 2 hour lecture
  • 1 hour tutorial (please see syllabus for details of when tutorials are scheduled)

Method of assessment

  • Unseen exam paper: 70% (3 hours)
  • Portfolio of resources: 30% (1500 words)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules