Towards ‘Law and visual culture’: an outline syllabus

Clare Sandford-Couch

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Cultural influences play a central role in shaping the law and its perception; the average law student’s understanding of the English legal system may be both reflected and shaped by visual culture, but legal education has largely failed to address how student learning could be enhanced by incorporating aspects of visual culture. The paper suggests that encouraging students to analyse aspects of visual culture can reveal underlying philosophies, whether social or political, and their interrelationship with contemporary attitudes of and towards lawyers, the law, and justice. Therefore, it advocates expanding the horizons of legal education to include an interdisciplinary law and humanities perspective which could enable students to explore the connections between law and visual culture. The paper considers what could be addressed in a ‘Law and Visual Culture’ syllabus to explore the use of visual culture as an accessible medium to supplement the dominant text-based discourses in law. It offers an outline syllabus to encourage students to think critically about the law, broadening their understanding of law as part of a social order and even to reflect upon their future role and identity as lawyers by addressing lawyers and legal themes through the medium of visual culture. Such an innovative course would aim to go beyond the interaction of law and popular culture, such as film and television, to include other visual sources, including architecture, art and photography. The paper will explore what aims and learning outcomes might be appropriate in such a syllabus, as well as the possible learning, teaching and assessment strategies that could be adopted. For each potential area of the outline syllabus, the paper will offer specific examples of work or works which could be considered, with explanations of the criteria for inclusion and the themes to be addressed. It will also address the problems of or associated with syllabus development.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2012
EventSociety of Legal Scholars Conference - Bristol, UK
Duration: 14 Sept 2012 → …


ConferenceSociety of Legal Scholars Conference
Period14/09/12 → …


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