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Introduction to Socio-legal Studies




Admissions requirements



This course introduces students to a field that is commonly referred to as law-and-society or socio-legal studies. Within that field, scholars constantly ask themselves how law and legal institutions operate in action. They ask questions such as: Which conditions are conducive to compliance with law and (human) rights? What causes variation in access to justice for people? How do street-level-bureaucrats apply the law? And how does legal pluralism affect all of the aforementioned issues? These and other socio-legal questions will be guiding this course. The readings are all social-scientific in nature. That means that students will not only receive substantive answers to the above questions, but will also be sensitized to social-science methods.

Course objectives

At the end of this course, students must be able to:

  • Offer different explanations for the mobilization of rights

  • Identify different theories related to (non)compliance with the law

  • List explanations related to the implementation of, and compliance with, regulation;

  • Distinguish between different actors relevant to access to justice;

  • Compare different theories related to cause lawyering

  • Describe the concepts legal pluralism and legal consciousness, and explain how these relate to the above themes.

Students will learn how to:

  • Summarize readings in terms of arguments made, contribution to the literature, and methods used (case selection, data collection, and data analysis)


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: pass/fail basis (week 2-8)
Two presentations: 20% (week 2-8)
Participation: 10% (week 1-8)
Essay (2500 words): 30% (due in week 7)
Written examination: 40% (exam week)

Notes: Students must pass three web-postings to pass the course as a whole, but the web-postings do not contribute to the final grade of students. The essay will focus on skills related to summarizing. Skills such as comparing or critiquing will be more central in higher-level courses.


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.


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


Daniel Blocq