Social Theory student presentations

Dear Social Theory students

Your presentations take place this week. Please make sure you hand in the written work during the first class of the week (Sunday/Monday, depending on your class time).

Here is a the rubric that I will use to grade your work:Rubric v.2 for grading the research task Rubric v.2 for grading the research task

Please click on the link above and read the rubric.  Make sure you can get the best possible mark in each category. I will mark the written and the oral separately, as per the rubric.

LLM Presentations

Hi LLM students

Here is the 3rd (and hopefully final) version of the presentation schedule: schedule v 3-for-the-presentations-spring-2015-LLM

The only change is the addition of Taiba who was not initially included. Please note that there are now 5 presentations on Monday 20th so its very important that everyone is ready to present on time and that presentations are strictly no longer than 15 minutes each that evening. Other nights, presentations can be 15-20 minutes.


Also please note that ALL essays are due, in hard copy, on Monday 13th April, regardless of when you are due to give your oral presentation.

All the best for finishing your essays and polishing up your presentations. See you on Monday (females) and Wednesday (males) for the first presentations.


Presentation schedules

Hello all Social Theory students,

Here are 3 presentation schedules. Please click on the one that applies to your class. Check your day and time. Please note that everyone must hand in their written work on Sunday 12th and Monday 13th (depending on which say you take your class with me).

Please make sure you are in class and ready to present your oral presentation on the appointed day.  We ‘re looking forward to hearing from everyone and learning from your research. If your name is not on a schedule, please email me ASAP.

Sunday/Thursday men: -schedule-v2–for-the-presentations-social theory-men-sun-thurs-group

Sunday/Thursday women: schedule-for-the-presentations-social theory-women-group

Monday/Wednesday group: schedule-v2–for-the-presentations-social-theory-mon-wed-group

LLM Presentation schedule

Hi LLM students,

Please click here schedule-for-the-presentations-spring-2015-LLM to see the final LLM schedule.  We discussed the draft in class this evening. There are some small changes due to some students having an exam on the first night of presentations.

Please check your name  – note the day and time. Please be ready to present at your appointed time.

Also please read the second page of the schedule – there are important notes there.


Legal Realism – overview, reading and handouts

Hi Social Theory and Law students

We are about to start a new topic, Legal Realism. We will focus on American Legal Realism. This material will be covered in the mid-term exam.

Here is some background reading:  Reading on Legal Realism It’s just a few pages  from Raymond Wack’s book Understanding Jurisprudence. There should be two copies of this book in the library if you want to get a better version or read more.

We will talk about Oliver Wendell Holmes first. Here is the handout that I will discuss. Oliver Wendell Holmes summary. I will print a copy for each of you but I am putting it up here in case you’d like to make an early start and get ahead.

I would also like to discuss Jerome Frank. Here is the summary about him. Jerome Frank summary

If time permits, we will discuss Karl Llewellyn but if we do, it will only be very briefly.

In slideshow #2, which you will have already printed, you will notice there are only 2 slides about Legal Realism. You should read them. They are useful.

You will notice that at the beginning of that slideshow, I said that ‘Legal realism was a reaction to Legal Formalism”. Legal Formalism, part of Legal Postivism, was a way of looking at the law as a closed system of rules. The Legal Formalists saw law as a sort of formula that was applied to any set of facts to get the ‘right answer’. In a legal formalist way of thinking, the judge is like a robot or a machine who mechanically applies the law to the facts to get the right decision. There is no need to consider other factors such as the justice, morality of the outcome, or the purpose of the law or what have you. The judge applies the letter of the law.

The American Legal Realists came along and challenged that way of thinking about the law. They thought that it was wrong – that’s not how judges work. They were more realistic about what the law is, how courts work and how judgments are reached in particular cases.

To illustrate legal formalism, I usually give the ‘swimming race’ example. It is taken from a book by Margaret Davies called “Asking the Law Question”. Here is a scanned image of a page from her book. Please read it. Leave a comment if you wish.

Swimming example: legal formalism

LLM – Research task sheet

Hi LLM students

A few students have asked me recently for a copy of the research project task-sheet which was handed out in week 1. So, here is a link in case you didn’t get one, or have misplaced your copy: Task-sheet (2)-for-student-research-projects

Note that we agreed on some changes to it. The deadline is Wednesday 11 March for handing in the research proposals instead of 6 March. Also, we agreed to be flexible on the word count and use the 3,000-4,000 word limit as a guide rather than a hard-and-fast rule.

Please make sure that your research proposal contains all the sections recommended in the task-sheet. Please hand in a hard copy only (no USBs or emails please) on 11 March.

Hope this is useful to you.

US legal system, US Supreme Court & US Government

Hi LLM students

In the second week after the holiday, on Wednesday March 11, we are looking forward to hosting a diplomat from the US Embassy. He will speak to us about selected aspects of the US legal system.

To prepare for that guest lecture, and to give you some background information, I would like to suggest that you visit the links below. They were kindly provided to me by the US Embassy. The material was written by the US State Department. If you click on the links below, they will take you to a page where you can select to carry on in English or choose the Arabic translation of the documents, which is available at the top of the page. So you can read the same material in English or Arabic.

Please take some time before 11 March to read some of the material provided at the links below. Read whatever you find interesting. However, you might be thinking of a comparative law project that involves the US – in which case this might be useful even before the 11 March guest lecture.

We will discuss some of this material in class on Monday 9 March. Print it if you like. Leave a reply if you want to share your thoughts on this reading.

e-Book: Outline of US Legal System

e-Book: The US Supreme Court: Justice Under the Law 

e-Book:  Outline of US Government 

Let me know if you have any trouble with the links.

Video on Legal Positivism

Hi Social Theory students,

Here is a video on Hart’s theory of law. We viewed it in class today (Sunday) and will also look at tomorrow (Monday) for those of you who take the Mon class. We may not view the whole video in class but feel free to watch it all when you have time.

And if you enjoyed that, Here is a video which is a short summary of Legal Positivism, by the same lecturer.

There are quite a few videos posted online that relate to Natural Law and Legal Positivism: have a look and see what’s out there. Let us know class if you find one that you think is really useful and we can watch it in class.

I don’t think watching a video is a substitute for reading, but sometimes hearing and seeing the material presented in a different way is helpful. Let me know your thoughts.