The details
Essex Law School
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Thursday 08 October 2020
Friday 18 December 2020
21 October 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for

LLB M100 Law,
LLB M100MS Law,
LLB M101 Law (Including Foundation Year),
LLB M107 Law (Including Placement Year),
LLB M120 Law (Including Year Abroad),
MLAWM199 Law,
MLAWMA98 Law (Including Placement Year),
MLAWMA99 Law (Including Year Abroad)

Module description

Jurisprudence is a module that enables you to think in-depth about how law works and the impact it has on the society around us. For example: How is law different to other rules and principles? Should law reflect moral opinion, and if so, how do we decide what is moral? Can judges really be objective when they make decisions? How do we judge if law is making society fairer?

The module covers many key theoretical approaches to understanding what law is and how it functions. In doing so, we will look at the relationship (and conflicts) between law and politics, markets, and matters of social justice. You will be asked to think for yourself about these issues, and reflect on which perspectives provide us with the most accurate, and the most useful, ways of thinking about law.

Module aims

The aim of the module is to introduce students to the main currents of thought about the nature and social functions of law and its relationship to morality and politics. A related aim is to improve students’ ability to reason critically and to argue.

Module learning outcomes

Students should gain a basic understanding of the currents of thought referred to under ‘module aims’ above. They should also develop their capacity to reason critically and to demonstrate this ability in written work.

Module information

The syllabus is likely to include the following:

1. Natural law

2. Classical Legal Positivism

3. Legal Realism

4. Modern Legal Positivism, especially the theory of H.L.A. Hart

5. The legal theory of Lon Fuller

6. The legal theory of Ronald Dworkin

7. Marxist approaches to law

8. Critical Legal Studies

9. Feminist legal theory

10. Postmodernism and law

Learning and teaching methods

This module is taught through a mixture of weekly live webinars, pre-recorded videos, and tutorials. Each week, the module teaching team will first produce and make available on Moodle two 25-minute pre-recorded video lectures. The module teaching team will then deliver a weekly live 50-minute webinar in which they further explore key legal concepts and answer your questions about the topics. These lectures and webinars will subsequently be available online through Moodle so that you can re-watch them as part of your independent study. Alongside this, there will be five bi-weekly 50-minute small group tutorials. The module teaching team will also produce and make available on Moodle short guidance notes. These notes will introduce the material to be covered in the lectures, webinars and required readings. The notes will also contain tips designed both to help you navigate the material to be covered in the lectures and webinars and to equip you to analyse the required readings.

You will be expected to have completed the required readings in advance of your tutorials. Your tutorials will enable you to discuss the material covered in lectures, webinars and the required readings, obtain feedback on your pre-class preparation and deepen your understanding of key concepts. To help you prepare in the best possible way for your tutorials, you will be completing regular Multiple-Choice Quizzes on Moodle. The quizzes will be based on the reading set for that week so that the quiz forms part of your preparation for each tutorial. The quizzes will enable you to track your progress, understand what you are doing well, and give you clear feedback to help you manage your studies and your progress.


  • Hart, H. L.A. (1887-) 'Positivism and the Separation of Law and Morals', in Harvard Law Review. vol. 71 (4) , pp.593-629
  • Waldron, Jeremy. (2006) 'The Core of the Case against Judicial Review', in Yale Law Review. vol. 115 (6) , pp.1346-1407
  • Dworkin, Ronald. (1977) 'Is law a system or rules?', in The Philosophy of law, London: Oxford University Press., pp.38-65
  • Dworkin, Ronald. (1985-03) 'Law's Ambitions for Itself', in Virginia Law Review. vol. 71 (2) , pp.173-
  • Hart, H. L. A.; Raz, Joseph; Bulloch, Penelope A.; Green, Leslie. (2012) The Concept of Law, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Fuller, L. L. (1887-) 'The Case of the Speluncean Explorers', in Harvard Law Review. vol. 62, pp.616-645
  • Arneson, Richard J. (1980) 'Mill versus Paternalism', in Ethics. vol. 90 (4) , pp.470-489
  • Balbus, Isaac D. (1977-24) 'Commodity Form and Legal Form: An Essay on the "Relative Autonomy" of the Law', in Law & Society Review. vol. 11 (3) , pp.571-
  • Stone, Alan. (1985) 'The Place of Law in the Marxian Structure-Superstructure Archetype', in Law & Society Review. vol. 19 (1) , pp.39-
  • Dworkin, Ronald. (1996) Freedom's law: the moral reading of the American Constitution, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Dworkin, Gerald. (1972) 'Paternalism', in Monist. vol. 56 (1) , pp.64-84
  • FEINBERG, JOEL. (1992) 'In Defence of Moral Rights', in Oxford Journal of Legal Studies. vol. 12 (2) , pp.149-169
  • Bix, Brian. (2019) Jurisprudence: theory and context, London: Sweet and Maxwell.
  • Crisp, Roger. (2013) 'Justice, Equality, and Rights', in The Oxford handbook of the history of ethics, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   LW301 - Formative Essay    0% 
Coursework   LW301 - Summative Essay    80% 
Practical   LW301 - Multiple Choice Quizzes    20% 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Tom Cornford, email: tomc@essex.ac.uk.
Dr Tom Cornford, Konstantinos Kalliris, Dimitrios Kyritsis
Law General Office, lawugadmin@essex.ac.uk



External examiner

Dr Christopher Lloyd
Oxford Brookes University
Senior Lecturer
Available via Moodle
Of 6472 hours, 0 (0%) hours available to students:
6472 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information
Essex Law School

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