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Law & Emotion - LAW00078H

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  • Department: The York Law School
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Sue Westwood
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2023-24

Module summary

The study of law and emotion is a growing field of critical legal scholarship. Law and Emotion scholars seek to critically interrogate law’s purported ‘objectivity’ and ‘rationality’ which obscures how these sustain forms of power, modes of marginalisation, and diverse ways in which emotion is devalued and obscured in legal discourse. Feminist and queer legal scholars in particular emphasise the significance of emotions in every part of law. To discount emotion is to ignore its very important part in multiple aspects of law, legal theory and legal decision-making. Notably, emotion needs to be taken into account when considering issues of social justice. This module aims to introduce students to the study of Law and Emotion, and to encourage them to think critically about the relationship between emotion and law.

Professional requirements

N/A

Related modules

N/A

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2023-24

Module aims

The aim of this module is to provide students with a theoretically informed insight into the the relationship between law and emotion. It critically interrogates the place of emotion in relation to legal theory, legal doctrine. legal proceedings and legal actors. Students will be encouraged to think about their own emotions in relation to law and how engaging with emotion can enable us see and understand law differently. Emotion is considered in relation to social justice in the contexts of specific areas of law, including criminal law, tort law, international law, family law, refugee law, and family law.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students should be able to demonstrate the ability to:

(1) Identify the main approaches in the field of Law and Emotion, specifically (Maroney 2006):

  • emotion-centred (how an emotion is, could, or should be reflected in law)
  • emotional-phenomenal (how emotions operate and how that is, could, or should be reflected in law)
  • emotion-theory (how theories of emotion are, could, or should be reflected in law)
  • legal doctrinal (how emotion is, could, or should be reflected in legal doctrine)
  • theory-of-law (how theories of emotions are positioned within theories of law)
  • legal actor (how particular legal actors’ functioning is, could or should be informed by emotion).

(2) Be aware of current debates in the field of Law and Emotion.

(3) Differentiate between conceptual approaches which analyse the relationship between law and emotion.

(4) Critically reflect on the role of emotion in various legal issues/problems (including by reflecting on core modules previously studied) and how to contextualise legal issues/problems by using emotion.

(5) Evaluate the relevance of emotions in addressing legal issues/ problems.

Module content

The initial plenaries and seminars will address the main approaches to, and debates about, Law and Emotion. Subsequent seminars and plenaries will focus on a specific emotion and explore how such emotion relates to a contemporary legal issue or problem. For example, we may look at disgust in relation to sexual offences, hate with hate crime, shame with punishment, fear with asylum, suspicion with psychiatric injury, love with kinship, and hope with human rights. The module will engage with law and emotion alongside a range of current law reform debates in relation to a range of legal subdisciplines, i.e. criminal law, tort law, international law, family law, refugee law, and family law, etc.) and legal texts (statutes, policies, case law, law reform reports, etc.).

Assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Law and Emotion Essay coursework
N/A 100

Special assessment rules

None

Additional assessment information

N/A

Reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Law and Emotion Essay coursework
N/A 100

Module feedback

Formative feedback is provided to students: (i) via feedback during learning activities (e.g. on specific skills performances); (ii) via an optional formative essay question.

Feedback on the summative assessment is provided in the form of comments on the assessment plus a summary of the main positive points and areas for improvement.

Feedback will be provided within the Policy Turnaround Time.

Indicative reading

  • Abrams, K., & Keren, H. (2021). Who’s afraid of Law and the Emotions Minnesota Law Review. 517.
  • Bandes, S. A., Madeira, J. L., White, E. K., & Temple, K. D. (2020). Introduction to the Edward Elgar Research Handbook on Law and Emotion. In S.A. Bandes, J.L. Madeira, K.D. Temple and E. White (eds) Edward Elgar Research Handbook on Law and Emotion (eds.) Edward Elgar
  • Calder, G. (2021). Whose body is this? On the role of emotion in teaching and learning law. In S.A. Bandes, J.L. Madeira, K.D. Temple and E. White (eds) Edward Elgar Research Handbook on Law and Emotion (eds.) Edward Elgar
  • Conway, H. & Stannard, J. (2016). Contextualising Law and Emotion: Past Narratives and Future Directions. In H. Conway, & J. Stannard (Eds.), The Emotional Dynamics of Law and Legal Discourse (pp. 1-8). Hart Publishing.
  • Grossi, R. (2015). Understanding law and emotion. Emotion Review, 7(1), 55-60.
  • Maroney, T. A. (2006). Law and Emotion: A Proposed Taxonomy of an Emerging Field. Law and Human Behaviour, 30:119–142
  • Maroney, T. A. (2016). A field evolves: Introduction to the special section on law and emotion. Emotion Review, 8(1), 3-7.
  • Mindus, P. (2021). When is lack of emotion a problem for justice? Four views on legal decision makers’ emotive life. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, 1-16.



The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.