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Equality and the Law


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 7
  • Convenor: to be confirmed
  • Assessment: a 4000-word essay (100%)

Module description

In this module we will closely scrutinise the legal rules and underlying assumptions regarding difference that promote equality and regulate discrimination. We will introduce you to UK equality law, including the Equality Act 2010 and recent UK case law, and give an overview of European and international equality laws.

You will have the opportunity to engage with substantive debates regarding the legal and social categories of race, gender, class, caste, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, nationality and disability as contingent and intersecting legal categories. We also look at the aims and goals of equality law, given assumptions about what it means to be ‘equal'. We will examine equality law from both non-discrimination and human rights perspectives, critically examining the different approaches of formal and substantive equality. Additionally, we will discuss contemporary social movements in Europe and North America, with particular focus on the UK, US, Germany and France, to get a comparative legal perspective.

Finally we will examine contemporary challenges and critical approaches to UK equality law practice by deploying the theoretical viewpoints discussed during the module.

Indicative syllabus

Part I: Introduction to equality law

  • Introduction to UK equality law
  • Case study from practice
  • Equality law under EU and the ECHR

Part II: Theoretical approaches to anti-discrimination/equality

  • Equality: an empty concept?
  • Sameness and difference: early US debates
  • Intersectionality and group rights
  • Conflicting equalities: integration, stigma and positive action

Part III: Critical reconsideration of regulating discrimination

  • Discrimination case study I: the Jewish Free School case
  • Discrimination case study II: race in Europe
  • Discrimination case study III: beyond equality - queer perspectives