UCL Faculty of Laws


Religion, State and Law (LAWS0142)

This module will examine the main issues arising in context of the contemporary relationship between religion, the individual, the law and the state.

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The module will involve comparative analysis of the principle patterns of regulating such relationships. It will also address the major debates around the relationship between theories of egalitarian liberal democracy and secularism.

This analysis will focus on theoretical debates around the admissibility of religious arguments in lawmaking, the complicated relationship between freedom of and freedom from religion and the role of religion in non-discrimination law.

Module syllabus

This module is subject to change.

  • Key Concepts
  • Freedom of Religion
  • Freedom from Religion
  • The Secular State
  • Religion in the Political Arena
  • Blasphemy and Free Speech
  • Religion, Culture and State
  • Immigration
  • Comparative Analysis of Church/State Arrangements in Europe
  • Revision Session

Recommended materials

  • Mark Lilla, The Stillborn God, (New York, Knopf, 2007).
  • Ronan McCrea, Religion and the Public Order of the European Union (Oxford and New York, Oxford University Press, 2010) chapters 6 and 7
  • Ronan McCrea, The Ban on the Veil and European Law (2013) Human Rights Law Review 13(1) 57-97
  • Michael Perry, Religious arguments in public political debate, (1996) 29 Loyola Law Review 1411

Background Reading (optional)

  • Nicholas Hatzis, Personal religious beliefs in the workplace: How not to define indirect discrimination (2011) 74 Modern Law Review 287

Module reading lists and other module materials will be provided via online module pages, available at the beginning of term once students have enrolled.

Preliminary reading

  • Juergen Habermas, ‘Religion in the public sphere’. European Journal of Philosophy, 14/1, 2006:1-25
  • Richard Rorty, 1994 “Religion as Conversation-Stopper.” Common Knowledge 3:1 (Spring), 1–6
  • Ronan McCrea “Secularism before the Strasbourg Court: Abstract Constitutional Principles as a Basis for Limiting Rights” Modern Law Review 79(4) (2016) 691-705

Key information

Module details
Credit value:15 credits (7.5 ECTS, 150 learning hours)
Convenor:Ronan McCrea
Other Teachers:None
Teaching Delivery:10 x 2-hour weekly seminars, Term One
Who may enrol:Any UCL Master’s student
Must not be taken with:None
Qualifying module for:LLM in Comparative Law;
LLM in Public Law;
LLM in Human Rights Law
Practice Assessment:Opportunity for feedback on one optional practice essay
Final Assessment:Essay (100%)