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Equality and the Law


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 7
  • Convenor: Eddie Bruce-Jones
  • Assessment: a 4000-word essay (100%)

Module description

This course will allow you to closely scrutinise the legal rules and underlying assumptions regarding difference that promote equality and regulate discrimination. It has five central aims:

  • Introduction to UK equality law: to give you a view of the main forms of equality law in the UK, including the Equality Act 2010 and recent UK case law
  • European and international law: to equip you with a concise overview of equality laws on the European level (eg European Union law and case law of the European Court of Human Rights) and the international level (eg UN Conventions)
  • Categories of difference: 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
  • Social theories of equality: to 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
  • Synthesise theory and practice: to examine contemporary challenges and critical approaches to UK equality law practice by deploying the theoretical viewpoints discussed during the course.

Indicative module content

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