The parallels between law and politics are pretty clear to see all around us; from politicians with a legal background, such as Sadiq Khan, to the political campaigners seeking change, like James Libson. So it makes sense to have an understanding of the wider picture of politics and how it works if you want to become a lawyer, a politician or a leader of social change.
This is what our undergraduate LLB Law with Government and Politics is designed for. Its aim is to give students the chance to not only complete a qualifying law degree, but also delve into the UK’s political system and understand the engine that powers the legal train.
We sat down with Senior Tutor Gary Atkinson to find out more about the Law with Government and Politics course.
Our Law with Government and Politics course is aimed at anyone who wants to pursue a career in either law or politics in its widest sense. This could include working in local or central government, campaign groups or even standing for election. It’s particularly useful if students want to pursue a career in the public sector, such as working as a lawyer for the Crown Prosecution Service or HM Revenue & Customs. They even have lawyers in the armed forces.
The term ‘government’ is a very broad one. It covers central government departments, the devolved administrations in various parts of the UK and city or local councils, all of which impact the law and how lawyers work. With our Law with Government and Politics course, our aim is to give students an understanding of how these bodies operate and the powers which they may exercise. A lot of governmental bodies employ lawyers who specialise in particular areas; for example, family and housing law. Students wanting to go into areas like this can benefit from a better understanding of how the political system works because navigating that system will be a big part of their job.
The law doesn’t operate in a vacuum and shouldn’t be viewed in isolation. It’s all part of a bigger picture, and that’s the main focus of this course; to show students how all those parts fit together to work, including the influence of non-legal factors on legal developments. That’s not just political ideas either, it can also be guided by social opinions and beliefs. This course bridges that gap between the law as an academic subject and the way in which the law is both made and implemented. Above all, students will have the chance to get a more rounded view of what the law can – and cannot – achieve in a democratic state.
The key difference between this course and our standard law degree is the module choices. There are four politics modules which are required over the duration of the course, two at FHE Level 5 and two at FHE Level 6, alongside the completion of the law modules required for a qualifying law degree. The FHE Level 5 modules are both based on politics in the UK. One (Politics in the UK – Systems and Structures) looks at the political and constitutional history of the UK, including the role and functions of the major players in the UK political system. The other (Politics in the UK – Ideology, Parties and Elections) examines the role played by the main political parties, including their beliefs and values. It also looks at the electoral system and the challenges facing a post-Brexit UK. The FHE Level 6 modules go farther afield, considering government and politics from a global perspective. This involves looking at other major countries, such as the USA, and assessing the role played by major international organisations like the United Nations.
An advantage of this course is the experiential chances it will support. By having that extra bit of political involvement, students on the Law with Government and Politics courses stand a better chance of securing a vacation placement or shadow scheme with an MP or other political figure because they can demonstrate that they’re studying politics. We’re also anticipating some interesting guest speakers from the political world who will be able to give a first-hand perspective of their work and experiences.
For anyone wanting to study Law with Government and Politics, the best advice I can give is to do some background reading. A great place to start is the Parliament website, but there are plenty of introductory books on the UK’s political system too. It doesn’t really matter where students choose to look, just so long as they can get a feel for the subject. Even watching the Parliament channel on TV can be useful. There is a book called Politics UK, written by Bill Jones and Philip Norton, which is a good engaging read. Students could also try How Parliament Works by Rhodri Walters and Robert Rogers. You can also find some interesting videos on YouTube about how Parliament works.
You can visit our website to find out more about our Law with Government and Politics course.