Law and Literature

Ref: C2224493

How does a study of literature add to an understanding of law as a discipline? How do law and literature shape our understanding of cultural identity and what it means to be human? What is the nature of justice and how is it informed by the contending values of reason, empathy and revenge? We will examine two novels, two plays and a short story that explore these themes through the lenses of different ages and cultures. Aeschylus: The Oresteia – the Eumenides (486 BC) William Shakespeare: the Merchant of Venice (1596 – 1599) Nadine Gordimer: Burger’s Daughter (1979) J.M. Coetzee: Disgrace (1999)

Course aim

The aim of the course is to analyse the relationship between justice and morality in both literature and law; to develop learners awareness of literary and legal rhetoric and the diversity of literary style and form.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Analyse and discuss plots and characters
  • Discuss ideas and themes in relation to a historical context
  • Analyse relationship between law, literature and life
  • Identify narrative techniques and strategies
  • Discuss significance of literary/legal register

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • You may be asked to undertake additional work in your own time to support your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning

What else do I need to know?

  • You will need to purchase or borrow books on the reading list

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • Please see reading list

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • Become involved as a volunteer for a WEA partner or another organisation
  • You could progress to Higher Education courses. Follow link to the PEARL website for information

Download full Course information sheet

Law and Literature


You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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