LAW4130 - Law and social theory - 2019

6 points, SCA Band 3, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

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



Chief examiner(s)

Assoc Prof Patrick Emerton

Not offered in 2019


For students who commenced their LLB (Hons) course in 2015 or later:

LAW1111; LAW1114; LAW1112; LAW1113; LAW2101; LAW2102; LAW2112; LAW2111

For students who commenced their LLB course prior to 2015: LAW1100 OR LAW1101 and LAW1102 or LAW1104 or ATS2868/3868, ATS2869/3869 or ATS2905/3905


The unit examines:

  • the notion of "social theory" and its relevance to an understanding of the law, history, industrial society and "modernity";
  • law, and the rule of law, as a social phenomenon;
  • law and social solidarity (Durkheim);
  • law as a system of social rules (Hart, Dworkin, Critical Legal Studies);
  • Marxist analysis of law;
  • criticisms of the Marxist analysis (Thompson, Williams, Krygier, Cohen, Rawls);
  • post-Marxist critical approaches to law (Habermas, Foucault); and
  • law and modernity (Weber).


At the successful completion of this Unit, students will:

  1. be aware of, and be able to demonstrate their grasp of, the significance of social theory to the understanding of law as a social phenomenon;
  2. be aware of the nature of social theoretic scholarship, and of the theoretical and methodological underpinnings that distinguish research and scholarship in the social sciences and humanities from research in law;
  3. be able to produce written work that is adequate relative to the theoretical and methodological underpinnings mentioned in (2);
  4. have closely read a number of primary texts in the social theoretic tradition having implications for the study of legal topics (both classical and contemporary texts, demonstrating a range of social theoretic approaches);
  5. be able to communicate, in written form, the outcomes of the reading described in (4), and thereby display familiarity with, articulate the content of and undertake sustained critical analysis of those texts, synthesise multiple texts, and integrate their own social theoretic insights; and
  6. learn and work autonomously and use feedback to improve their own capabilities and performance.


Essay (3000 words): 60%

Examination (2 hours writing time plus 10 minutes reading/ settling time): 40%

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. The unit requires on average three/four hours of scheduled activities per week. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.

See also Unit timetable information