The Family, Law and Social Change (LAWM689)

StaffProfessor Anne Barlow - Convenor
Credit Value15
Academic Year2016/7
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level7
Duration of Module Term 2: 12 weeks;

Module aims

This module will through the lens of family law and policy critically examine the way in which law responds to social change. It aims to evaluate the theoretical explanations for the nature of this relationship, the doctrinal influences on a domestic and international level and the direct and indirect impact on it of inter-disciplinary socio-legal research.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. engage in critical reading of national and international theoretical, doctrinal and socio-legal writing on family law to achieve a developed understanding of the various critiques of the relationship between the family, law and society
  • 2. appreciate the sometimes controversial role of socio-legal research in uncovering and identifying the changing processes and social developments which lie behind it.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. develop an inter-disciplinary approach to socio-legal issues, express their own thoughts on the topics studied, such as sociological, political or policy-oriented reflections
  • 4. combine and draw on both theoretical approaches and inter-disciplinary empirical research, while demonstrating the ability to address competing arguments

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 5. capacity to conduct independent study and group work and meet deadlines
  • 6. develop critical approach to legal and socio-legal research in the family law and policy domain
  • 7. develop high level of competence in accessing legal and socio-legal bibliographic sources
  • 8. assemble systematic and sustained argument orally and in writing in a family law context

Syllabus plan

Staff-led seminars
Seminar 1: Family Definition and the Law - Responses to Social Change and Medical Technology
Seminar 2: Equality and Vulnerability – autonomy, financial remedies and shared parenting.
Seminar 3:
Seminar 4: The legal meaning of domestic violence: a struggle between accepted and marginalised knowledge.
Seminar 5: Cultural and religious diversity, child protection and marriage.
Seminar 6: Student-led seminar
Oral Presentation on topic critiquing article of student's choice relevant to selected summative essay topic.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad
15 135 0

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities15 hours6 x 2.5 hour seminars
Guided independent study135 hoursIndependent study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Oral presentation to the group, and class participationA 20-30 minute oral presentation to the group critiquing an article relevant to the student's essay topic. The presentation will be formatively assessed and does not count towards the end-of-module assessment, though the material covered therein may be used as the basis for the assessed essay.1-8Oral and or written feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay100Maximum 3,750 words1-8Written feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay (Maximum 3,750 words)1-8Next reassessment period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Bailey-Harris, Rebecca (1996) Law and the Unmarried Couple Oppression or Liberation? 8(2) Child and Family Law Quarterly 137-147.
Bala, Nicholas and Bromwich, Rebecca (2002) Context and Inclusivity in Canadas Evolving Definition of the Family International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family 16:145-180.
Barlow, Duncan James and Park (2005) Cohabitation, Marriage and the Law Oxford: Hart
Barlow and Probert (2004) Regulating Marriage and Cohabitation: Changing Family Values and Policies in Europe and North America 26 (1) Law and Policy 1
K. Boele-Woelki and A. Fuchs (eds) (2001) Legal Recognition of Same-Sex Couples in Europe Antwerp: Intersentia
Bradley, David, (1996) Family Law and Political Culture. London: Sweet and Maxwell.
Bradley, David (2001) Regulation of unmarried cohabitation in West-European Jurisdictions Determinants of Legal Policy International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family 15:22 50
Cooke, Elizabeth (2001) "White v White: a new yardstick for the marriage partnership" Child and Family Law Quarterly 81
Roger Cotterrell (1992 second ed) The Sociology of Law: An Introduction. (London: Butterworth).
Day-Sclater, S (2000) Families London: Hodder and Stoughton
Jones, C., Why Donor Insemination Requires Developments in Family Law: The Need for New Definitions of Parenthood. Edwin Mellen Press. 2007
Jones, C., The identification of parents and siblings: new possibilities under the reformed Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act in Herring, J., Wallbank, J and Choudhry, S., (eds) Rights, Gender and Family Law, Oxford, Routledge-Cavendish: Glasshouse press, 2009.
J. Dewar, The Normal Chaos of Family Law (1998) 61 MLR 467, 470
Eekelaar, J and Thandabantu N, (1998) The Changing Family Oxford:Hart
Fortin, J (2003) Childrens Rights and the Developing Law London: Butterworths.
Foucault, M. 2003. Society Must Be Defended, Lectures at the College de France 19751976, Penguin Books, pg. 6-11.
Freeman, Michael D.A., (1984) Legal Ideologies, Patriarchal Precedents, and Domestic Violence. In The State, the Law and the Family: Critical Perspectives, edited by M. D.A Freeman. London:Tavistock.
Glendon, Mary Ann, (1981) The New Family and the New Property Toronto: Butterworths.
Herman, J. L. 1992. Trauma and recovery, New York, NY, BasicBooks, chapter 4 Captivity
Home Office (1998) Supporting Families. London: Home Office.
King, Michael and Piper, Christine (1995) How the Law Thinks about Children Aldershot: Arena.
Lewis, Jane, (2001) The End of Marriage?, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
Maclean, M. (ed) (2005) Family Law and Family Values Oxford: Hart
ODonovan, K. (1993) Family Law Matters London: Pluto
Smart, Carol (1989) Feminism and the Power of Law London: Routledge
Gunther Teubner (1993) Law as an Autopoietic System (Oxford, UK; Cambridge, Mass., USA: Blackwell Publishers).

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Family Law Social Change