nl en

Socio-Legal Studies




Admissions requirements



This course provides an introduction into the field of socio-legal studies. Unlike ‘black letter’- lawyers, who examine the law from a normative perspective only, socio-legal scholars are concerned with what the law actually does in real life (often referred to as ‘law in action’) and how it relates to society and social change. To this end socio-legal scholars use a multi- or interdisciplinary perspective. The course will examine key insights and findings from the field, situated in different countries and settings, and discuss its methods.

Questions that will be addressed include:

  • What functions does law have in society? Does law represent society’s consensus, is it helpful to advance the interests of the poor or does it rather serve the interests of the rich and powerful?

  • What is the social production and what is the social working of law?

  • How do law and social change relate to each other – can law be used to bring about social change?

  • Why do people obey the law?

  • How, when and why is law (not) invoked to resolve disputes?

Through these and other questions this course explores the ways in which law and society mutually affect and shape each other, and the roles that social context, structure and power play in this regard.

Course objectives

  • critically describe important concepts, themes and theories within the field of socio-legal studies.

  • identify and explain law’s different functions in connection with different visions of society, and apply this knowledge to various examples of law’s functioning.

  • analyze and critically examine the various ways in which law can bring about social change or in which social processes lead to legal change.

  • distinguish contexts and factors that shape the ways in which legal rules are used, invoked and followed


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

The course uses a variety of teaching methods, including (interactive) lecturing, student presentations, web postings, class discussion and debate. Teaching materials include readings as well as video and film clips.


Three web postings: 15%
Presentations: 25%
Participation: 15%
Final essay (2500 words): 20%
Final written examination: 25%


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

The required and recommended reading will be listed in the course syllabus and will be made available on blackboard. For some of the assessments students will have to do their own literature research.


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact