Kursussøgning, efter- og videreuddannelse – Københavns Universitet

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Kursussøgning, efter- og videreuddannelse

Law and Literature

Practical information
Study year 2016/2017

DKK 10.000

Programme level Full Degree Master
Full Degree Master choice
Course responsible
  • Ditlev Tamm (11-4d727d756e7f375d6a767649737e7b37747e376d74)
  • Law
Course number: JJUA54070U

Course content

“Law and literature” has become a widely established field of study in law schools throughout the United States and Europe. Literature presents an alternative way of thinking about the law - one that is synthetic, creative, and comfortable with ambiguity and ambivalence. Learning to read and interpret works of literature helps make you a better lawyer – for example, by providing new and deeper understandings of the law and by providing an awareness of the power of rhetoric in legal argument. This course will explore our understanding of law and the way it shapes our consciousness of ourselves and our society by reading selected works of Western literature through a lawyer’s eyes. It will provide an opportunity to think about the law in a new way from a humanistic and philosophical perspective and to read engaging works of fiction that shape our vision of the law and were shaped by actual legal dilemmas. In addition, we will be reading legal opinions that grapple with issues raised by our discussion of these works of art.

The course will examine in depth the following works of literature, focusing on the issues of law and legal advocacy they raise: Sophocles, Antigone, William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Herman Melville, Billy Budd, Franz Kafka, The Trial, Robert Bolt, A Man for All Seasons, and Albert Camus, The Stranger. Various critical readings of each of these works will also be examined. Students must participate in discussions and debates on the implications the texts raise for legal interpretation and legal advocacy. In addition, students will also be required to read relevant case law grappling with legal issues similar to those raised by these works and apply insights gained from those works in their analysis of those cases.

Learning outcome

- Identify and explain legal issues raised by the course texts;
- Identify and explain legal advocacy issues raised by the course texts;
- Put into perspective and participate in critical thinking about legal issues through the format of the course texts; - Analyze various notions related to law and legal advocacy, such as the nature of law, the characteristics of justice, and the duties of the advocate;
- Engage in advocacy with respect to a particular legal position through the format of the course texts; Communicate and formulate his/her knowledge and familiarity with various modes of argumentation in an advocacy context;
- Become familiar with and put into perspective different historical views of the role of law and advocacy in Western civilization; and
- Improve written and oral advocacy skills in English.

Recommended prerequisites

Good knowledge of the English language is a requirement, not only for oral discussion but for reading the material


The course will also offer students for whom English is a second language an opportunity to improve their English-language skills by engaging in challenging discussions on works and topics to which they might not otherwise be exposed. Students are required to participate in class discussions. Final grades will be determined by a written final paper and an oral exam based on the paper.

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Course type

Single subject courses (day)


1 semester


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Teaching and learning methods





Sophocles, Antigone, William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Herman Melville, Billy Budd, Franz Kafka, The Trial, Robert Bolt, A Man for All Seasons, and Albert Camus, The Stranger . Reading will also include materials assembled by the instructors.

Required readings cover approximately 500 pages.


Category Hours
Seminar 34
Preparation 241
English 275


Type of assessment

Oral examination, 20 min
Oral exam based on synopsis, 20 minutes

Marking scale

7-point grading scale

Censorship form

External censorship

Exam period

December 19 - 23, 2016 (preliminary dates)


Please see "Academic calendar" on KUnet.

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