LAW5631 - Lawyers, literature and cinema - 2017

6 points, SCA Band 3, 0.125 EFTSL

Postgraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Not offered in 2017


The representation of Law and lawyers within popular culture is one of the most important, but underappreciated, dimensions of the legal profession, of practice, and of the practical negotiation of legal ethics. The 'social status' of the lawyer within the wider culture is one of the dominant factors governing the student's decision to enter (or not to enter) law school. Furthermore, the dissemination of judicial procedure and dispute resolution through popular culture and the mass media is one of the primary means of both enforcing and challenging the legitimacy of Law and its practitioners within the broader community.

Within the diverse representations of Law offered by popular culture both literature and cinema are of special significance. Literature, both 'elitist' (Kafka; Camus) and 'popular' (Thurow; Grisham) is one of the primary mediums for the critical examination of legal reasoning and the nature and ethics of practice within the wider culture, often revealing subversive and confronting truths normally suppressed by conventional legal education and training. Cinema, along with television, is one of the leading arenas for the formulation of the social consensus concerning the nature of Law and lawyers, often artistically re-staging the processes of legal reasoning and dispute resolution so as to both critique and affirm the legitimacy of legal culture.

This unit will examine all of these issues through a critical analysis and discussion of a number of the seminal 'texts' within both the literature and cinema of Law.


On completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. identify, synthesise and apply advanced knowledge of key concepts relating to Law and Literature and Law and Film;
  2. demonstrate sophisticated intellectual and creative skills to identify and evaluate leading problems in the field of Law and Literature, the complexities of the relationships between legal culture and popular culture, and the public perception and representation of lawyers and legal practice;
  3. conduct independent research into issues of critical legal theory, film study, and literary criticism based on knowledge of appropriate research principles and methods; and
  4. communicate the research findings effectively and persuasively.


  1. Two reflective essay questions (1500 words each): 20% each (Total: 40%)
  2. One research paper (4500 words): 60%

    The standard of the marking of the assignments of PG students will be in strict accordance with the University regulations concerning the assessment of graduate students.

Workload requirements

Students will be required to attend 36 hours of lectures, and undertake approximately an additional 108 hours of private study, including reading, class preparation, assignment preparation and revision time over the duration of the course. This will also include the reading of the assigned novels and the viewing of the assigned films.

Chief examiner(s)


LAW7470/LAW5000 or LAW7212/LAW5080