The Rule of Law in Theory & in Practice (LAWS50120)
Graduate coursework level 5Points: 12.5Not available in 2023
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Law graduates will become solicitors, in-house counsel, barristers, judges, legislators, public servants, lobbyists, journalists, and teachers. They will work for firms of solicitors, for corporations, for the state, for the people, for themselves, for the United Nations, for think tanks, for NGOs, for schools, and for universities. Whatever law graduates do in their professional lives, they will be expected not only to possess knowledge of the laws, but also to have a particularly well-developed insight into the meaning and significance of "the Law" as a collection of institutional and cultural phenomena. In order to meet this legitimate expectation, law graduates should be capable of speaking and writing in a way that is informed by a reasonably well-developed conception of the Rule of Law, and this whether or not they are called upon to make explicit reference to the Rule of Law. They should be aware of its potential force as a thread that unifies "the Law" in its various institutional and cultural contexts. They should have an appreciation of the theoretical aspect of the Rule of Law. Is it merely a negative virtue, or does it entail positive goods? What has it meant to the greats of political philosophy, ancient (Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle) and modern (Hobbes, Locke, and Nietzsche)? What does it mean to contemporary thinkers? Students should also have an appreciation of its applied aspect. What are the implications of the Rule of Law for private law, for public law, for criminal law, for international law, for legal ethics, and for business regulation? How is the notion of the Rule of Law used in public debate? By whom? To what ends?
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject will:
- Have an advanced and complex understanding of key questions, debates, and texts connected with the Rule of Law;
- Understand that as conceptions the Rule of Law are many and controversial, to invoke the Rule of Law as justification for this or that is to commit oneself to defending an existing conception or to advancing a new one, in each case, in the face of rival claims;
- Recognise the merits and demerits of leading conceptions of the Rule of Law, and, in turn, will attain a critical vantage point from which to decide where he or she should stand and why;
- Be capable of speaking and writing for specialist and non-specialist audiences in a way that is informed by a reasonably well-developed conception of the Rule of Law;
- Have an understanding of the ways in which the Rule of Law may be relevant to private law, to public law, to criminal law, to international law, to legal ethics, and to business regulation;
- Have a well-developed ability to connect theoretical aspects of the Rule of Law with their potential practical implications;
- Have an appreciation of how the notion of the Rule of Law is used in public debate, and by whom, and to what ends; and
- Have developed the ability to research and to evaluate the relevance and significance of materials directly and indirectly relevant to the Rule of Law tradition.
On successful completion of the subject, students will have developed their skills in the following areas:
- Deep understanding of the key questions, debates, and texts in the Rule of Law tradition;
- Mastery of technical research skills relevant to the Rule of Law;
- Expert, specialised cognitive and technical skills for critical and independent thought and reflection in connection with theoretical and practical aspects of the Rule of Law;
- Expert, specialised cognitive, creative and technical skills to address problems connected with the Rule of Law; and
- The ability to expertly communicate specialized and complex information, ideas, concepts, and theories relevant to the Rule of Law to specialist and non-specialist audiences.
Last updated: 24 January 2023