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LAWS302 Jurisprudence

Theoretical perspectives on the nature, values and functions of law.

Jurisprudence has been described as "the most fundamental, general, and theoretical plane of analysis of the social phenomenon called law".
Jurisprudence considers questions like these: What is law? Is it a system of rules? What is the relationship between law and morality? Is it ever justified to break the law? Is the law capable of being objective and neutral, or will it always be biased in favour of the dominant groups in society? How does law differ from politics? What is the appropriate and actual role of the judge? What is the role of discretion in judging? Does law progress? Can law be made a science? Is there a distinct form of legal reasoning? Is law an autonomous discipline?

Paper title Jurisprudence
Paper code LAWS302
Subject Law
EFTS 0.2
Points 30 points
Teaching period Full Year (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,420.60
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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96 LAWS points
Pre or Corequisite
Any 200-level LAWS paper not already passed
Limited to
LLB, LLB(Hons)
Teaching staff

Pūkenga Matua Senior Lecturer - Metiria Stanton Turei


All course materials for LAWS 302 Jurisprudence are provided to students by the Faculty.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Environmental literacy, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this paper should be able to demonstrate an understanding of:

  • The features of a positivist approach to law
  • A range of sceptical responses to this positivist approach
  • A range of intermediate positions between the positivist and sceptical poles of jurisprudence
  • How such thinking can help us analyse the features of different legal systems, legal institutions or fields of law and help us identify, track and compare trends in legal systems over time, between jurisdictions or in the work of particular courts or judges
  • Critical jurisprudence

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Full Year

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
L1 Wednesday 11:00-11:50 9-14, 16-22
Friday 11:00-11:50 9-13, 16-22
M1 Tuesday 11:00-11:50 28-34, 36-41
Friday 11:00-11:50 29-34, 36-41