SHE Level 4
SCQF Credit Points 20.00
ECTS Credit Points 10.00
Module Code MHM225832
Module Leader Karla Perez Portilla
School Glasgow School for Business and Society
Subject Law
  • A (September start)

Summary of Content

The module is based on the assertion that advances/achievements in equality and against discrimination cannot be taken for granted. Although legislation tackling racism has existed for over 50 years, evidence of renewed forms of racism, for example, through hate crime, is a reminder of the complex dynamics of social relations and of equality's frailty in hostile political, economic and ideological environments. Similar threats and evidence of renewed forms of social injustice can be found in relation to all other 'protected characteristics' (Equality Act 2010); for example, the fact that despite decades of sophisticated sex equality legislation locally, regionally and internationally, there is still a considerable gender pay gap worldwide; sexual objectification and stereotypical representations of women in the media, including online, are rife; and respect for women's dignity is still an unmet condition of justice - harassment is still a known common practice in private, professional and educational settings. The module, however, takes an optimistic and proactive approach throughout, facilitating and encouraging the revision, evaluation, improvement and expansion of what has historically worked to reduce prejudice and discrimination generally (i.e. education, social contact, empathy building, personal stories, peer support and pressure, protest and activism, critical thinking, media literacy, legal action and art). The module thus acknowledges that whilst the prejudice that motivates discrimination is fundamentally a relationship that may diminish but also intensify at different points in time, there is always something that can and should be done to bring about social justice.


This is a module in three parts. The first part is dedicated to the presentation of theoretical underpinnings including critical and feminist approaches around theories of justice and core concepts: equality, discrimination, ideology, power, exploitation and change - principles and patterns of resistance (history, formation, structure and goals of social movements). The second part addresses contemporary issues in Criminal Law (hate crime and in particular hate speech); equality in Employment Law and beyond (intersectional claims, diversity in organisations, equality in education and in the provision of goods and services and institutional discrimination); and Media Law (challenging discrimination in the media, an exploration of available models, including self-regulation, complaint mechanisms and initiatives from the organised civil society addressing issues of (mis)representation, under-representation, coverage and the under-representation of disadvantaged groups in the media industry as producers, managers and journalists). These subjects are taught from a local, regional and international perspective. Given the nature and historical development of equality rights, the role and significance of the, often borderless, organised civil society and those with 'lived experience', are also central to the discussions. The third part of the module will present the employment landscape and career prospects in the public, private and third sector for those with interest in and knowledge of the broad field of equality and discrimination. Primarily in order to locate the work in practice, speakers with expertise in these sectors and who have responsibilities for 'equalities work' will be invited to share their experiences with the students. Overall, given the various links between equality and any area of law, together with the social, economic and political emphasis associated with this subject, the module enhances student's career prospects in any area of law, as well as, promoting GCU values and deepening students understanding of the nature and role of law in society - a socio-legal approach.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module the student should be able to:1. Explain why social justice matters.2. Demonstrate a multidisciplinary and theoretically informed understanding of the causes and consequences of disadvantage and discrimination.3. Explain current legal debates and controversies around equality, social justice and discrimination making use of socio-legal, critical and feminist approaches.4. Critically analyse contemporary issues in Criminal Law, Employment Law and Media Law.5. Apply their knowledge and understanding of social justice, equality and discrimination to any area of law.6. Identify the value and limitations of relevant legal and policy instruments related to equality and discrimination from Scotland, the UK and beyond. 7. Develop a 'radar' for social injustice based on a sound understanding of the generative framework of inequality.8. Communicate existing models, and envisage new ways, to tackle prejudice and discrimination.9. Recognise a range of career prospects for those with interest and knowledge of social justice, equality, discrimination and the law.10. Identify the value/effectiveness and limitations of 'equality work' in the public, private and third sector.

Teaching / Learning Strategy

GSBS will continue to use the advancement of GCU Learn as a blended learning tool through its teaching and learning as well as through engagement with students. GSBS will ensure that all modules are GCU Learn enabled and with the support of the Learning Technologists at the cutting edge of development of online materials. Academic staff and the Learning Technologists will continue to work together to develop and operate all modules on GCULearn to ensure student support and information sharing. Students are provided with formative and summative feedback via a variety of mechanisms. Feedback on coursework is provided within 3 working weeks of submission. The strategy involves a combination of lecturing to introduce and frame the topics for independent and consolidating study. The seminars require individual presentation and participation and directed reading in recommended texts and independent study in preparation for seminars and lectures. Teaching will be a combination of 11 lectures and weekly seminars. Internationalisation: The delivery of this module will set Scots, UK and EU law as appropriate in an international context. Feedback strategy: Prior to submitting coursework, students are invited to seek assistance and advice from the module leader. Each piece of coursework will be returned to the student with a personalised feedback sheet. Verbal feedback will also be provided to the class in lecture. The students are invited to approach the module leader for additional feedback if required.

Indicative Reading

Allport, Gordon (1979). The Nature of Prejudice, Perseus. Atrey, Shreya (2017), 'Comparison in intersectional discrimination', Legal Studies, 38, 379-395, DOI: 10.1017/LST.2017.17 Baker, John, Lynch, Kathleen, Cantillon, Sara and Walsh, Judy (2004), Equality: From Theory to Action, Palgrave Macmillan. Crenshaw, Kimberle (1989), 'Demarginalizing the intersection of race and sex: a Black feminist critique of antidiscrimination doctrine, feminist theory and anti-racist politics', University of Chicago legal Forum, vol. 140. Eagleton, Terry (1991), Ideology: An Introduction, Verso. Fanon, Franz (1986), Black Skin: White Masks, Pluto Press. Fraser, Nancy (2003), 'Social justice in the age of identity politics: redistribution, recognition, and participation', in Fraser, Nancy and Honneth, Axel, Redistribution or Recognition? A Political-Philosophical Exchange, Verso. Hunter, Rosemary (2008), 'Alternatives to equality', in Hunter, Rosemary ed., Rethinking Equality Projects in Law: Feminist Challenges, Hart. Jones, Owen (2011), Chavs. The Demonization of the Working Class, Verso. Knifton, Lee and Perez Portilla, Karla (2017), 'From ethical challenges to a matter of rights. Mainstream media's stigmatisation of people with mental health problems needs to be countered', Ethical Space: The International Journal of Communication Ethics, vol. 14 No 2/3 2017. Kymlicka, Will (2002), Contemporary Political Philosophy, 2 nd ed., Oxford University Press MacKinnon, Catherine (1979), Sexual Harassment of the Working Women, Yale university Press. Maguire, Aveen (1992), 'Power: now you see it, now you don't. A woman's guide to how power works, in Pringle, Rosemary ed., Defining Women: Social Institutions and Gender Divisions, Open University. Malik, Maleiha (2009), 'Extreme speech and liberalism', in Hare, Ivan and Weinstein, James, eds., Extreme Speech and Democracy, Oxford University Press. Matsuda, Mari et al eds., Words that Wound: Critical Race Theory, Assaultive Speech, and the First Amendment, Westview Press. Perez Portilla, Karla (2016), Redressing Everyday Discrimination. The Weakness and Potential of Anti-Discrimination Law , Routledge GlassHouse. Perez Portilla, Karla (2018), 'Challenging media (mis)representation: an exploration of available models', International Journal for crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 7(2): 4-20. DOI: 10.5204/ijcjsd.v7i2.510 Schweppe, Jennifer and Walters, Mark (2016), The globalisation of hate. Internationalizing hate crime? Oxford University Press. Sunstein, Cass (2007), 2.0, Princeton University Press. Waldron, Jeremy (2012), The Harm in Hate Speech, Harvard University Press. Yeboha, Sammuel Kennedy (1988), The Ideology of Racism, Hansib. Young, Iris Marion (1990), Justice and the Politics of Difference, Princeton University Press.

Transferrable Skills

By the end of this module students will have gained competence in the following key areas: analysis, synthesis, critical judgement and evaluation, the ability to identify relevant issues, assimilate, evaluate and analyse information to construct written or oral solutions to a problem by bringing together and integrating relevant information, and selecting key material, from a variety of different sources. Students will use and further develop: a) The ability to present arguments for and against propositions, acknowledging ranking of sources and relative impact in context. Such skills are developed within this module through the following activities: preparation and participating in seminars, researched written essay and case analysis; b) Personal management, independence and ability to learn, the ability to organise and prioritise effectively the expenditure of time and effort in the performance of all aspects of student work. c) The ability to learn effectively and be aware of their own learning strategies; to manage their own learning development and to reflect upon their learning, seeking and making use of feedback. Such skills are developed within this module through the following activities: Independent study, active participation in seminars, preparation of summaries for group seminars, researched essay and case analysis. d) Communication and literacy. The ability to communicate information, ideas, advice and choices in an effective and succinct manner and in plain English without losing focus on key issues. e) The ability to listen and question effectively, to give and receive feedback and to make presentations addressing an allocated topic within the prescribed time frame. f) The ability to communicate both orally and in writing (and, where appropriate, by the use of electronic means) using the English language accurately by creating work which is comprehensible to the intended audience. g) The ability to create documents which are analytical, descriptive and inquisitive using appropriate terminology and recognised methods of citation and reference. Such skills are developed within this module through the following activities: Oral participation and contribution in lectures, oral opinions expressed in lectures, researched essay and case analysis (both of which require students to identify and access primary and secondary source materials). h) Numeracy, information, technology and teamwork where relevant and as the basis for an argument, the ability to present and evaluate information provided in numerical or statistical form. i) The ability to produce and present in an appropriate form a word-processed essay and case analysis. j) The ability to conduct efficient searches of websites to locate relevant information; and exchange documents by E-mail. k) The ability to work productively and cooperatively in different kinds of groups; to establish working relations with others, defining, sharing and delegating responsibilities within the group. Such skills are developed within this module through the following activities: group participation in seminars. l) Retrieval of sources using electronic means. m) Responding to and discussing legal and ethical concepts.

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Independent Learning (FT) 114.00
Seminars (FT) 24.00
Lectures (FT) 12.00
Assessment (FT) 50.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Course Work 01 n/a 40.00 n/a Case Analysis (1500 words).
Course Work 02 n/a 60.00 n/a Essay (2500 words).