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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Undergraduate Course: Advanced Legal Writing (LAWS10202)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Law CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course is intended to provide the skills and knowledge necessary to make the most of honours study. It has a twofold purpose. 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 LLB programme. The latter goal includes not only key elements of dissertation planning, but also essay-writing skills generalisable to all honours essays, along with general writing skills.

The aims of the course are as follows:
- To familiarise students with the move from lectures to seminars, the reasons behind this, and what is expected of them
- To impart the necessary skills to allow students to get the full benefit of this transition
- To teach students how to formulate and present arguments, and how to structure them in a coherent text, at an advanced level
- To ensure students know the key elements in selecting and refining and appropriate research question, developing a research plan, and focusing study in the manner necessary to succeed in the dissertation
- To develop students' ability to craft clear, concise and rigorous formulations of their own and others' arguments, and awareness of important pitfalls in writing
Course description The following topics will be covered:
- The difference between Honours and Ordinary study
- Key skills for Honours study
- Argument analysis and evaluation
- Designing research questions
- Structuring essays
- Elements of academic writing
- Identifying and avoiding common writing errors

The course will be taught in a hybrid lecture/ seminar format, mirroring its bridging function between Ordinary and Honours study. At the general lecture each week, a range of different skills will be introduced and discussed in detail. From week 2 onwards, the class will then split into seminar groups of 25 for more intense and focused skills work, each focusing on topics previously covered in the lectures. Every seminar group will be taught by the same individual throughout the course.

Students are expected to come to class prepared each week to participate, having attempted some of the exercises at home. They will be marked on their participation. They will have ample opportunity to engage with, and provide peer feedback on, each others' work. They will be able to demonstrate their achievement of the learning outcomes by writing an essay, and by marking and providing feedback on a short essay written by the course organisers. The essay-writing process will be "scaffolded" at various stages, and many exercises will be designed to teach precisely what markers are looking for in different elements of the essay.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2019/20, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 8, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 14, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) The course will be assessed by 20% class participation, 50% essay, and 30% essay marking exercise.
Feedback Students will be invited to submit a title, abstract and structure for the final summative essay. Seminar time will be allocated to discussing and evaluating these. Feedback will be received from both peers and eventual markers of essays on each component. All feedback will be made available to all students.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Read, understand, and critically evaluate primary and secondary legal sources to an advanced level.
  2. Analyse and synthesise complex arguments.
  3. Structure and present a complex set of their own arguments as a single coherent text.
  4. Formulate, acting independently, a plausible essay question, write an abstract, develop a coherent and effective structure and ultimately write the essay.
  5. Present complex arguments in a clear, rigorous and elegant manner.
Reading List
Reading will be kept to a minimum to allow a focus on skills-based exercises. The reading list is currently under development and will be published in advance of commencement of the course.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills By the end of the course, students will be able:
- To read, and to communicate effectively, in written and oral form, complex ideas and positions, both in formal presentations and in informal Q&As or class discussions
- To manage the change to the more independent and self-disciplined form of work required at Honours level study
- To understand, through the use of formative and peer feedback mechanisms, the different elements of an excellent research essay or dissertation, and to interrogate their own work, and those of others, in the light of these elements
- 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
- To read actively and critically, and to respond creatively to the different texts that they will encounter in the course of the degree
KeywordsTransition to honours,writing skills,essay writing,dissertation
Course organiserMr Andrew Farrer
Tel: (0131 6)51 4308
Course secretaryMs Angela Jones
Tel: (0131 6)51 4550
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