LW5012 - Law and Literature

What will I learn on this module?

Through discussion of a variety of carefully chosen texts you will find new ways to think about law and the institutions of law. You will learn about the varieties of ways in which the relationship between law and literature has been explored by legal academics (law as literature and in literature). Applying these ideas, you will be encouraged at all stages to reflect on your own relationship with the legal system, its function within our society and the values and attributes of the profession.

Topics will include:

• Introduction and orientation. What is law and literature?
• Trials and abuses
• Custom, conflict and dispute resolution
• Play readings
• Justice as ordeal: trials, witches and spies
• Utopias, Dystopias and Terrorism
• Legal ethics: what is a ‘good lawyer’?
• Legal theory in literature lecture – The Name of the Rose
• Kafka: The Trial

How will I learn on this module?

This 20 credit module will involve 200 hours of notional learning.

Teaching will be delivered via a combination of:
12 x 1 hour large group sessions
6 x 2 hour small group seminar-type sessions.
Total = 24 hours of face-to-face teaching.

You will learn through face-to-face teaching and tutor guided and student independent learning. The module employs a small number of lectures and a larger number of workshop and seminar sessions. Lectures will provide an introduction to the main ideas, theories and criticisms of the discipline of law and literature. Later lectures will provide in-depth analysis of selected texts and authors and broaden appreciation of the potential value of literature to the study of law and legal practice. You will also be encouraged to reflect on and challenge your assumptions about the nature and role of law as a method of dispute resolution within your own and other societies.

The workshops function as forums for discussion of texts you will have prepared for in advance and also for activities such as group play readings. You will work individually and in groups. On occasion, additional materials will be provided in session. You will have set texts for some sessions, in others you will be able to choose a text to discuss.

As above, you will engage in tutor guided independent learning (TGIL) in your preparation for teaching sessions. You will be provided with lecture handouts, seminar materials and electronic reading lists and supplementary materials via the eLP. You will prepare for teaching sessions by undertaking the recommended reading and preparation in advance: some of this involves group work. TGIL will take account for 120 hours during the module.

Feedback on summative assessment will take the following forms:
• Completion of a written comments sheet for your essay, including ‘feed forward’ comments
• Use of assessment criteria marking grid
• Creation of an outline answer & general points to note document for you to access
• Opportunity to discuss your assessment performance with tutor in feedback week

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Support on the module will primarily be through discussion with tutor during workshops and seminar sessions. The module eLP site will contain relevant materials and information. Further comment will be provided on the eLP with summary sheets at certain key points placed on the eLP. You will obtain ongoing and valuable feedback on your understanding and preparation from tutors across the 6 seminar sessions.

In addition to this academic support in sessions and via the eLP(outlined above) you will obtain formative feedback in the following ways:
• You will undertake a number of core statements written exercises: short written pieces on which the tutor will provide feedback.
• A coursework guidance lecture with Q & A
• A one-to-one session with the tutor to discuss your choice of assessment topic and text
• You will have access to the tutor outside of sessions to discuss module-related and assessment issues

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
You will be able to demonstrate greater insight into the nature of law and its role in society and of the value and uses of literature as a tool for inquiries into law. You will develop new ways of thinking and arguing about law and society, of your place in the legal order and the values of legal practice within a liberal society.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
You will broaden your appreciation of the value of material drawn from other academic disciplines and be able to make use of it in developing your thinking about law. You will further develop your ability to synthesize arguments from a variety of sources, organise your thinking on complex issues and build your confidence in oral presentation, discussion and group work.

Personal Values Attributes:
Through consideration of other cultures and reflecting on the qualities and failings of liberal legal systems both actual and speculative, you will appreciate better liberal law as one among other methods of dispute resolution. You will understand in greater depth the values of the legal profession and the importance of need questioning your own values assumptions about the law.

How will I be assessed?

Formative assessment:
• You will undertake a number of “core statements” written exercises: short written pieces that will help condense your thinking on a given topic and on which the tutor will provide feedback.
• A coursework guidance lecture with Q & A
• A one-to-one session with the tutor to discuss your choice of assessment topic and text
• You will have free access to the tutor outside of sessions to discuss module-related and assessment issues
These activities substantially contribute to all 5 MLOs.

Summative assessment:
Will consist of one 2,500 word coursework which requires you to select a text(s) and topic area. You will then conduct independent research in response to a question that will apply to both the text and the topic. As outlined above, feedback on this assessment will take the following forms:
• Completion of a written comments sheet for your essay, including ‘feed forward’ comments.
• Use of assessment criteria marking grid
• The opportunity to discuss assessment performance with your tutor in feedback week
Completing this assessment will lead to all 4 MLO.





Module abstract

The use of literature allows us to think about law in different and revealing ways. Through guided discussion of a wide variety of literary texts that relate to the thematic strand in the module of the trial process, you will be encouraged to think critically, to challenge your assumptions about the law, to broaden your understanding of law as part of the social order and to actively reflect on your own identity as a student and future lawyer. The analysis of law in literature will allow for comparison of the English legal system with dispute resolution and social ordering in other societies. You will also consider, through literature, what could happen in a society without law or with distorted or oppressive systems of social control. You will be encouraged to introduce and discuss works you feel are relevant and will be able to choose a text as the focus for your assessment.

Course info

UCAS Code M101

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Northumbria Law School

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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