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Laying down the law

by The Open University

This course material is only available in the iTunes U app on iPhone or iPad.

Course Description

In the Western democratic tradition there is a very distinctive and powerful understanding of the rule of law, and the nature of justice. But in this system, who decides what justice is? How do courts work? How are laws made and who enforces them?

Using examples drawn from the operation of the English justice system, the pathway looks at these big questions. An important issue that brings the law head on with personal freedom is the role of the law in our right to die. There are legally controlled limits to our own decisions in this area, and the actions of our loved ones on our behalf. Is it right that the state places itself between an individual and their perceived right to stop their life of pain and suffering? And what safeguards are there to protect all concerned where an individual wishes to commit suicide but is physically unable due to their illness?

The learning pathway then looks at the law and considers how a fairly typical democratically founded court system – in England – works. It goes on to explore the roles played by lawyers and judges – should their personality and rhetoric be allowed to sway the outcome of a case?

Legal experts then discuss current legal dilemmas such as does prison work. The pathway ends by considering the mechanisms controlling or influencing how laws change, by focusing on the example of an infamous racially motivated murder in London of a black teenager named Stephen Lawrence.
Laying down the law
View in iTunes
  • Category: Law
  • Language: English

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