In the following video, Dr Anne Wesemann introduces the discipline of law.
Spend some time watching the video, and then try to summarise the defining characteristic(s) of law as an academic discipline in the text box below.
Download this video clip.Video player: Video 2
Transcript: Video 2
Everybody has a very personal idea of what law is. Most directly associate law with the legal profession. And the first picture popping into their heads is that of a judge with an impressive wig and a courtroom or a character in their favourite legal drama. We associate law with lawyers, solicitors and barristers, complex writing, and long-winded arguments. Only very few will be aware right away that law affects them directly and daily. Our jobs are regulated by employment law. The way we shop is affected by consumer regulations and contract law. Where and how we live is subject to land law and other rules and regulations, whether we are renting or owning the place we live in. Laws of discipline, then, is a very broad subject to study. We are looking at law as a set of rules created by specific institutions within a state or organisation through, again, a specific authority. But this can mean that we look at how law is made, and focus on the way parliament works, and what rules are governing that process. It can mean that we focus on legal history and focus on particular areas of law and how they've developed to learn more about the way these areas of law may or should develop in the future. There is, then, an extensive range of specific areas of law, including criminal law, but also areas of law that are reaching beyond the state, like space law, maritime law, and asylum law. Whichever subject area we focus on when studying law, the focus will be on an analysis of a set of rules and how these may be applied in a courtroom or how they affect society.
The academic discipline of law involves the study of the rules by which a society is governed. Its scope can include not only the study of the content and application of particular rules (laws), but also how these rules are created and administered.