Postgraduate course

Lawfare: Law as Political Strategy

  • ECTS credits10
  • Teaching semesterSpring
  • Course codeSAMPOL328
  • Number of semesters1
  • LanguageEnglish
  • Resources

Level of Study


Teaching semester


Objectives and Content

One of the most central developments over the past three decades is the accelerating juridification and judicialisation of societies and of politics. In all parts of the world and at all levels, from the global to the local, increasingly complex webs of legal norms and institutions regulate our societies and lives. At the same time courts and law have become increasingly important as arenas for political struggles. Constitutional reforms and international treaties aim to transform social dynamics from above, among other though new and stronger protection of citizens┬┐ rights, while individuals and groups engage in legal mobilization from below to seek justice for their cause. In either case dense networks of international activists and experts are ready to engage with and aid local actors, creating a dense global network of actors, legal norms, and adjudicative institutions. In this context, it is urgent to better understand law as a political field. Does this turn to rights and law have a transformative potential? Does it provide institutional spaces for the voices of marginalized groups to be heard and tools that can provide political leverage? Or does it, rather demobilize and depoliticize struggles in ways that exacerbate unequal power-relations and marginalization dynamics? These are urgent issues on which there are deep disagreements in the literature. The course offers an introduction to the debates on the potential and limits of law as an instrument of social change, and opportunities to engage with international research projects currently seeking better answers to these questions and will include guest lectures by prominent scholars.

Learning Outcomes

Ths student should aquire the following knowledge skills and competences from completing this course:


  • Familiarity with existing scholarly literature in the field of law and society research, and debates related to key concepts such as lawfare; legal mobilization; legal engineering; compliance; constitutionalism; accountability; social transformation
  • Knowledge about central empirical literatures on lawfare processes in Europe; the Americas; Africa and Asia
  • Understanding of diverse methodological approaches towards researching effects of lawfare.


  • The ability to complete written essays and make oral presentations which demonstrate skills in analyzing and critically evaluating the theoretical and empirical literature examined
  • The ability to design an independent research project in political science
  • Demonstrate skills in assessing strengths and weaknesses in established approaches towards establishing effects of lawfare, applied to empirical contexts.

General competence:

  • Enhanced analytical and critical skills in applied research;
  • Familiarity with key contributions in the scholarly literature on law and society generally. and specifically on lawfare and its effects.

Required Previous Knowledge

Students must have completed a bachelor's degree in political science or an equivalent (subject to approval by the administration of the Department of Comparative Politics).

Access to the Course

Master Programme in Comparative Politics

Teaching and learning methods

Seminar discussions, guest lectures, group work

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

Submission of a reflection paper, and full attendance to no fewer than 75% of the class meetings is required to be able to sit for exam.

Forms of Assessment

Portfolio assessment: Group presentation (20%); active participation in class discussions (10%) and 5000 word essay (70 %) on topic of own choosing that utilized literature from the course syllabus.

Grading Scale

The grading scale used is A to F. Grade A is the highest passing grade in the grading scale, grade F is a fail.

Assessment Semester


Course Evaluation

Course is to be evaluated regularly.


Department of Comparative Politics


Contact Information