Undergraduate Course: The Practice of Legal Argument (LAWS10179)
|School||School of Law
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||This course offers an in-depth analysis of legal argumentation as applied in actual legal practice. It concentrates on the analysis of judicial cases and other paradigmatic instances (e.g. motions) of legal reasoning in action. Students will acquire skills of argument-reconstruction and assessment, and learn to critically discern appropriate and inappropriate uses of argumentative patterns and techniques. The kind of issues to be addressed include the internal and external justification of conclusions of law; the use (and misuse) of deduction; the use (and misuse) of coherence-based arguments; arguments based on precedent; some fallacies common in legal reasoning; the place of consequentialist arguments in legal reasoning. (Not all topics will necessarily be addressed every year, and the emphasis placed on different topics may vary from year to year.) Students who take the course will thus (a) develop their ability to engage critically with legal reasoning in general, and judicial reasoning in particular; (b) develop their ability to articulate sound legal arguments of their own; (c) develop an understanding of the moral and political dimensions of legal reasoning.
Indicative teaching programme
The analysis of legal argumentation envisaged in this course will cover topics of the following kind:
- The internal and external justification of conclusions of law
- The use (and misuse) of deduction
- The use (and misuse) of coherence-based arguments
- Arguments based on precedent
- Common fallacies in legal reasoning
- Consequentialist arguments
- Rhetorical analysis of legal reasoning
Not all topics will necessarily be addressed every year, and the emphasis placed on different topics (eg number of seminars dedicated to each topic) will likely vary from year to year.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Information for Visiting Students
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2021/22, Available to all students (SV1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||This course will be assessed by (a) a written critical analysis (up to 750 words) of a previously distributed complex text or set of texts excerpted from actual judicial decisions (or similar sources) (50%); and (b) by an oral discussion of this analysis (50%). Students will be required to submit these written analyses 72 hours before the oral discussion.
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Knowledge and Sources of Law: This courses primary aim is to develop and hone the students critical ability to reconstruct, analyse, and produce legal arguments. These are skills of general application in legal practice; they are not related to any specific set of legal sources. Therefore the course will not introduce new sources, nor will it be based upon any set of sources grouped by subject-area or branch of law. Rather, it will draw on multiple materials from diverse bodies of legal sources, relying on the students basic knowledge (acquired at ordinary level) of those sources.
- Subject-specific Skills: The reconstruction, use, and critical analysis of legal arguments.
- General Transferable Intellectual Skills: The ability to think clearly and to produce and assess sound arguments: this course focuses on 'know how' rather than 'know that' skills. As legal reasoning shares many of its basic structures with general (non-legal) reasoning, the course will also be of use to students at the broader level of general reasoning and decision-making.
- Key Personal Skills: The ability to engage critically but charitably with other peoples views and arguments, including normative views and arguments, irrespective of topic.
- Subject-specific Legal and Ethical Values: The course will foster reflection on the moral and political implications of legal argumentation.
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Course organiser||Dr Euan MacDonald
Tel: (0131 6)50 9832
|Course secretary||Ms Tracy Noden
Tel: (0131 6)50 2053