Undergraduate Course: Advanced Legal Methods (LAWS10157)
|School||School of Law
||College||College of Humanities and Social Science
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||This course has a twofold purpose, intended to provide the skills and knowledge necessary to make the most of honours study. Firstly, it will bridge the gap between the Ordinary and Honours methods of teaching and learning in the law school, equipping students to deal with the shift from the lecture/tutorial to the seminar format, and to get the most out of the latter. Secondly, it will provide students with the full range of skills necessary to excel in their 4th year dissertations, a key component of the new LLB programme. The latter goal includes not only skills in dissertation planning and structuring, but also introducing students to an array of methodological approaches that they may wish to make use of in this work.
The core aims of the course are thus as follows:
- To familiarise the students with the move from lectures to seminars, the reasons behind this, and what is expected of them;
- To impart the necessary skills, in terms both of critical analysis and communication, to allow them to get the full benefit of this;
- To teach all students how to formulate and present arguments, and how to structure these in a coherent text, to an advanced level;
- To ensure that students know the key elements in selecting and refining an appropriate research question, developing a research plan, and focusing study in the manner necessary to succeed in the dissertation;
- To ensure that students have an advanced understanding of some of the key methodological approaches that can be used in advanced legal research, their benefits and potential pitfalls.
The teaching programme will include the following areas
- Accounting for the shift to a different form of teaching and learning in Honours study, and instructing students on how to profit fully from the seminar method;
- Reading legal sources, both primary (e.g. judgments) and secondary (books, journal articles), for critical understanding;
- Advanced elements of essay structuring and writing
- Essential elements of dissertation formulation, planning and execution
- Advanced doctrinal research
- Socio-legal research (quantitative and qualitative)
- Comparative methodologies
- Critical methodologies
- Uses and misuses of statistics in legal argument
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Information for Visiting Students
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2016/17, Available to all students (SV1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||Summative assessment for this course will be by way of a 2,500 word research proposal. This will be supported by a range of different types of formative assessment in the seminar context.
The proposal will comprise the following assessed elements:
- Frame a question and set out clear aims and objectives (10%)
- Give an overview of current research in the field, by choosing up to 10 key sources and referencing these appropriately within the text and in a bibliography, and outlining what the proposed research will contribute to the field (45%)
- Set out the methods and analytical strategy and justify why they are suitable (35%)
- Assess the ethical implications of the research and level of ethical clearance that would be appropriate for the research (5%)
- Set out a timetable for completion of key stages of the work including write-up (period of project = 6 months) (5%)
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Have a full understanding of the pedagogical reasons behind the shift from lectures to seminars for the latter stages of the LLB degree; Understand how to contribute effectively to, and get the most from, the group learning environment.
- Have advanced knowledge and understanding of the principal research methodologies, their benefits and potential limitations; Understand what types of methodologies are appropriate for different kinds of inquiries, and why this is the case; Be able to identify and criticise flawed methodological approaches in the work of others.
- Be able to read, understand and critically evaluate primary and secondary legal sources to an advanced level; Understand how to analyse and synthesise complex arguments; Understand how to structure and present a complex set of their own arguments as a single coherent text; Be able, acting independently, to formulate a plausible research question, set out a research plan, identify an appropriate methodology, set out a detailed outline and ultimately write the research proposal; Understand, through the use of formative and peer feedback mechanisms, the different elements of an excellent research essay or dissertation, and understand how to interrogate their own work, and those of others, in the light of these; To reflect in detail on their own learning, to make use of feedback from both teachers and peers to improve their own performance, and to provide feedback to peers on aspects of theirs; Be able to respond creatively and originally to the different texts that they will encounter in the course of the degree.
- Be able to communicate effectively, both in written and oral form, complex ideas and positions, both in formal presentations and in informal Q&As or class discussions; Understand how to manage the change to the more independent and self-disciplined form of work required at honours level study; Understand some of the key uses and abuses of statistical evidence in legal research and argument.
- Understand the different ethical issues to which legal research can give rise, and how to address or minimise these when they do arise; Understand what formal ethical requirements may be in place when pursuing particular methodological approaches, and why this is so.
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Keywords||Advanced Legal Methods
|Course organiser||Dr Gemma Flynn
Tel: (0131 6)50 9510
|Course secretary||Miss Danielle Page
Tel: (0131 6)51 4550
© Copyright 2016 The University of Edinburgh - 3 February 2017 4:32 am