Goldsmiths has a rich heritage of social awareness and social engagement, championing human rights and social justice. The LLB course applies these strengths to current issues such as Europe, AI and disruptive technologies.
Law and Society: Criminal Law and Human Rights
For generations, researchers, practitioners and other academic staff here have engaged with policy makers and actively sought to make real, positive changes to society.
The LLB (Law) programme builds on this tradition. It adopts a contextual approach to studying Law. It integrates theory into practice, and explores the role of law in the organisation of society and the maintenance of social order. It discusses Law’s conceptualisation of itself as being neutral, and undertakes a critique of this conceptualisation which focuses on all the ways in which Law falls short of its own ideals. The lived experiences of those subjected to the force of Law, particularly in the context of criminal law and criminal justice, offer powerful case studies.
A wide range of modules in this area – such as ‘Criminal Justice in Context’, ’Globalisation, Crime and Justice’, ‘Prisons, Punishment and Society’ and ‘Contemporary Issues in Criminology’ – allow students to develop interdisciplinary, specialist, knowledge as well as invaluable cognitive thinking and transferable skills. The flagship ‘Criminal Law Theory and Practice’ module in year 1 bridges the gap between theoretical perspectives and giving students a sound understanding of the cultural, professional and institutional context within which criminal law applies. Students understand how criminal law operates in practice through encounters with barristers and solicitors, participation in mock criminal law trials and study visits to magistrates courts and the Old Bailey in London.
In line with this contextual approach, the LLB (Law) programme has a strong focus on analysis of human rights as instruments for change, and research inquiries about their limitations in practice. The programme investigates European human rights’ transformational effect on UK law, against the backdrop of the debate on the repeal of the Human Rights Act, and the Eurosceptic and isolationist trends that underpin it. It delivers these elements through a range of compulsory and optional modules, including Public Law and the Human Rights Act, Human Rights Law and Immigration Law.
In their final year of studies, selected students also have the chance to participate in Goldsmiths’ Human Rights Clinic, and take part in research and public engagement activities undertaken in the context of the Knowing Our Rights research project.
Law and technology
How did ‘Cambridge Analytica’ manage to invade the personal data of millions of Facebook users in the US and the UK? Does EU legislation (GDPR) offer sufficient safeguards against such abuses? How can we balance freedom of expression and fighting against extremist ideology on social media? What can be done to stop the media from invading celebrities’ privacy? How effectively can we regulate disruptive technologies – Uber, Netflix, or crypto-currencies – and at what cost? What is going to be the impact of AI on the legal profession, and can computers really replace barristers and solicitors?
These are some of the questions that inform our teaching and research in the fascinating forward-looking area of media, technology and human rights. Goldsmiths has unique strengths in this area, and the LLB (Law) provides excellent scope for their analysis from an interdisciplinary perspective.
Pioneering modules such as ‘Media Law and Ethics’, ‘AI, Disruptive Technologies and the Law’ or ‘21st Century Legal Skills’, and the use of high-tech teaching methods, such as immersing in relevant Virtual Reality experiences, will equip students with the latest knowledge, and the digital skills required, to master the application of Law in the new digital era.
The Goldsmiths LLB (Law) programme offers students unique insights into the legal transformations triggered with the decision of the UK to withdraw from the European Union, placing them ahead of the curve as regards the ability to first conceive, then operate within, the new legal landscape that is going to emerge with Brexit.
At the same time, the programme exposes students to critiques of the socio-political conditions that generated Brexit, and enables them to critically analyse the opportunities and challenges inherent in the latter, concerning, for instance, the protection of human rights, or the ability to agree international trade agreements, after Brexit.
The above objectives are achieved through pioneering modules in the LLB programme – such as ‘EU Law in the UK’, ‘Commercial Law and International Trade Agreements’, ‘Public Law and the Human Rights Act’ or ‘Human Rights Law’ – and Goldsmiths’ Human Rights Clinic.
The Britain in Europe (BiE) thinktank forms an integral part of Goldsmiths’ research and educational provision on Brexit, Europe and human rights. This independent thinktank, which was founded in October 2015 by our Head of Law, Prof Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos, offers students in the LLB (Law) programme unique opportunities to engage with UK and European Union policy makers, eminent legal scholars and legal professionals, third sector experts and other key parties in the debate on the relationship – past, present and future – between Britain and Europe.
Opportunities to interact with BiE include attendance in guest lectures by BiE experts, high profile research events and public debates, and, in some cases, contribution to relevant research projects and public engagement activity undertaken by the thinktank.
Vacation schemes and short placement opportunities may also arise as part of the educational-research synergies developed by BiE.