American studies

Rights, Justice and the Law in U.S. History

Module code: T7058
Level 6
30 credits in spring teaching
Teaching method: Seminar, Film
Assessment modes: Coursework

This module explores the issue of rights in American courts, beginning with Native Americans’ loss of their land and ending with recent debates over criminal sentencing.

We examine how the courts have worked to uphold the power of elites throughout American history. At the same time, we also study how the courts provided opportunities for Americans to challenge restrictions of their rights and – at times – allowed them to exercise their rights as citizens when other branches of government did not. You'll read articles and books examining these questions and analyse cases from local and appeals courts.

Module learning outcomes

  • Develop a greater understanding of rights and the law in America.
  • Construct sophisticated written arguments.
  • Demonstrate the ability to initiate and carry out a research project involving multiple court cases.
  • Critically evaluate historical arguments, theories about the law, and data surrounding court cases.