1. Programme name

Public Law and Legal Philosophy

  1. Programme code

6CH P02, R801M

  1. Campus

Mahikeng Campus

  1. Delivery mode


  1. Programme leader

Prof. HJ Lubbe (acting)

  1. Introduction (description of the programme +-300 words)

Public Law and Legal Philosophy offers students the opportunity to interrogate pertinent aspects related to the use of public power and other issues that arise in the public sphere. The programme engages students in critical thinking on the contentious legal issues that scholars and practitioners face in their understanding and utilisation of public power. Building on the basic understanding that students should have of public law having obtained an LLB, this programme takes students deeper into some of those legal issues, offering them a space to reflect on why things are in a particular way, and why they could be in a different way. The programme also touches on the structure of public power, how that is used to meet certain ends in a state, and how to curb excesses of power. It also investigates human rights: a domain that is arguably underpinned by numerous complexities, from both philosophical and legislative perspectives. Scholars are arguing the origins of human rights, the contextual realities of different societies, and how these affect the goal of universalising human rights; and the are questioning how indigenous knowledge systems can be harnessed for the realisation of socio-economic and cultural rights. Given this climate, this module is perfect for students who intend to engage in those debates and who want to add their voices.

  1. Prior knowledge required

Apart from the basic requirement of an LLB or similar degree, it is recommended that students who are particularly interested in Public Law and Legal Philosophy should apply. Students who passed and excelled in modules like the ones listed below will greatly benefit from their prior knowledge. This will serve as a foundation for more substantial engagement and deeper understanding of the respective fields and their interplay.

  1. Programme outcomes (aims and objectives)

  • Knowledge and understanding of jurisprudence and jurisprudential issues.
  • Knowledge and understanding of human rights in Southern Africa.
  • A deep understanding of the human rights situation in the Southern African region in a comparative perspective.
  • An understanding of the socio-legal issues involved in constitutional law and human rights law.
  • Understanding of the socio-legal issues involved in human rights in Southern Africa.
  • Knowledge and understanding of the obligation to obey the law.
  • An in-depth understanding of South African constitutional law, with reference to the new order.
  • In-depth knowledge of the fundamental rules governing the exercise of state power with emphasis on the abuse of power.
  • Independent competence in dealing with comparative aspects of administrative law.
  • Independent competence in dealing with specific aspects of public international law.
  • The ability to evaluate the operation and effects of public international law.
  • Familiarity with policy issues underlying the rules of public international law.

  1. Modules

PPLM 873 Mini-dissertation

Semester 1

  • PPLM 811 Origins and Structure of Southern African Legal Systems
  • PPLM 812 Jurisprudential Approaches in Southern Africa
  • PPLM 813 Constitutional and Human Rights Law

Semester 2

  • PPLM 821 Legal Education and the Legal Profession in Southern Africa
  • PPLM 822 Interdisciplinary Legal Studies in Southern Africa
  • PPLM 823 Administrative Law
  • PPLM 824 Public International Law

*** Modules struck through will not be offered in 2024. ***

  1. Lecturers
  • Prof. Avitus Agbor
  • Prof. Tumi Mmusinyane
  • Prof. Helene Combrinck
  • Mr. Ngwako Raboshakga

  1. Proposed research (mini-dissertation) topics

  • The use of force in international law and international humanitarian law: the legality of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
  • International criminal law: the possibility of the commission of war crimes in Ukraine
  • Putin’s arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court and its implications for member states like South Africa
  • The restructuring of the Security Council, VETO power of permanent members such as Russia and the accountability of these members
  • Unconstitutional change of government as seen in Niger, for example.
  • Thabo Bester and the issue of corruption in South Africa’s criminal justice system
  • France’s apology for crimes during colonisation: should reparations follow?
  • Qwebane and the issue of foreign migrants in South Africa: a flawed/selective protection of human rights in South Africa?

  1. Employment options or further study opportunities after completion of the programme (benefits of acquiring the degree for the industry)

Students in this programme can pursue an LLD in the same or similar field after having been exposed to various themes and topics in the respective modules. Students could also pursue a career at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, which is the foreign ministry of the South African government. It is responsible for South Africa's relationships with foreign countries and international organisations and runs South Africa's diplomatic missions.