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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Postgraduate Course: Reasoning with Precedent (LAWS11334)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Law CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course examines the practice of justifying legal claims and conclusions by reference to precedent. It combines case law analysis and jurisprudential discussion.

Course description Students will a) discuss actual judicial opinions identifying how precedent is used in legal argument; and b) familiarise themselves and engage critically with the relevant jurisprudential literature on the subject.

This is an advanced course. It was not designed to be easy, but it was designed to be interesting, intellectually stimulating and fun, as befits a Masters course.

Topics to be covered include:
- Precedent as a source of law
- Precedents and arguments from authority
- Theoretical vs practical authority
- Binding authority vs persuasive authority
- The ratio decidendi of a case
- Deductive arguments in appeals to precedent
- Reasoning with precedent
- The structure of arguments by analogy in common law
- Inductive arguments in appeals to precendent
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:  25
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) One essay worth 100%
Feedback One of the course's aims is to improve students' ability to express themselves clearly and rigorously. We will spend around 30 minutes every week (starting from week 2) collectively discussing small samples of each student's written work, with the goal of improving its expository structure, the clarity of and precision of the claims being made, and the structure of the arguments being presented.

No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Further develop their ability to engage critically with legal precedent in the context of legal reasoning in general and juidical reasoning in particular
  2. Further develop their ability to articulate and assess sound precedent-based legal arguments; and
  3. Further develop an understanding of the moral and political dimensions of precendent based reasoning in law
Reading List
The following 2 papers will be discussed in the first seminar. Students are expected to have read them in advance of the first class meeting:
* F Schauer, 'Authority and Authorities' (2008) 94 Virginia Law Review 1931-61
* G Lamond, 'Persuasive Authority in the Law' (2010) 17 The Harvard Review of Philosophy 17-35

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills The course will develop skills of analysis and the ability to read critically and closely, to evaluate, to debate, and to discuss relevant materials in a group, as well as an ability to write cogently in addressing such material
Keywordsprecedent,ratio decidendi,legal argumentation,legal rhetoric
Course organiserDr Luis Duarte D'Almeida
Tel: (0131 6)51 3781
Course secretaryMiss Lauren Ayre
Tel: (0131 6)50 2010
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