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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Undergraduate Course: Asylum and Refugee Law and Policy (LAWS10175)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Law CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course aims to examine, through a socio-legal lens, the treatment of refugees, as defined by the 1951 Refugee Convention. Its main focus is therefore on asylum seekers, and legal processes involved in claiming asylum in the UK, with some reference to the EU. It examines the development of policy and law in the area with reference to key concepts such as internal relocation, persecution, and the Convention reasons that can ground a claim of persecution. In particular we will focus on the bureaucratic and legal hurdles that asylum seekers must surmount to become officially recognised as legitimate refugees in the UK, especially the problems of evidencing and proving credibility. This will include the observation of the operation of an asylum and immigration First Tier Tribunal in practice. The courses therefore will allow students to understand the theory, the policy and the practice of applying the UN Convention in the UK.
Course description There will be 10 substantive sessions, taught by experts on asylum and refugee law from across the CHSS. The main focus will be asylum and refugee law and policy at the supra national and UK level. A possible course outline is as follows:

Week 1. The background and history of the UN Convention on refugees and the interpretation of these obligations at EU level, including the Qualification Directive.
Week 2. Convention reasons and the evolution of key concepts such as persecution
Week 3. UK asylum system
Week 4. Interpretation and cultural communication
Week 5. Visit to asylum tribunal
Week 6. Reading week
Week 7. The role of the asylum lawyer (tribunal report due at the end of this week)
Week 8. The role of Expert Evidence
Week 9. Objective evidence and country of information reports
Week 10. Credibility case studies: torture, sexual violence and sexual orientation
Week 11. Displacement and relocation, concepts of home
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Spaces on this course are allocated as part of the Law Honours Course Allocation process. Places are generally only available to students who must take Law courses. To request a space on this course, please email
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesThis course is only open to visiting students coming through a direct exchange with the School of Law (including Erasmus students on a Law-specific Exchange). Exchange students outside of Law and independent study abroad students are not eligible to enrol in this course, with no exceptions.

**Please note that 3rd year Law courses are high-demand, meaning that they have a very high number of students wishing to enrol in a very limited number of spaces.**
Priority will be given to students studying on exchange within the Law department, and it is highly unlikely that there will be additional spaces for general exchange students & independent study abroad students to enrol; we will look into this on a case-by-case basis in September/January. Visiting students are advised to bear in mind that enrolment in specific courses can never be guaranteed, and you may need to be flexible in finding alternatives in case your preferred courses have no available space.

These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. It is not appropriate for students to contact the department directly to request additional spaces.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
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) This course will be assessed by a 4,000-word essay or report (to be advised from year to year) (80%), and a 1,000-word blog written by pairs of students (20%).
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Knowledge and Sources of Law

    Students should be able to:
    - understand the context of asylum in the UK, including the international conventions and EU rules that inform the UK system;
    - develop a deep critical awareness of recent case law in the UK
    - comprehend and critically analyse recent research, in the UK and comparatively in eg Canada, on the process of refugee status determination
  2. Subject-specific Skills
    Be able to:
    - critically analyse the evolution of key principles of refugee law and their application in the UK
    - observe and understand the operation of asylum tribunal decision-making
  3. General Transferable Intellectual Skills
    Be able to:
    - explore new ways of critiquing, understanding and shaping our legal and social responses to questions of social justice;
    - discuss difficult issues constructively with peers, demonstrating understanding and an ability to construct sound arguments and take different perspectives into account
    - engage with legal and administrative processes in the UK, law on the books, and compare them with law in action (at the tribunal)

  4. Key Personal Skills

    - Active listening;
    - Working constructively and professionally in a classroom environment discussing politically charged issues;
    - Engaging with difficult questions from a variety of disciplinary and political perspectives: legal, anthropological, ethical, sociological.
  5. Subject-specific Legal and Ethical Values

    - To try to understand with the plight of those seeking refuge and the laws that govern the determination of their refugee status;
    - To understand the challenges faced by those seeking asylum in the UK;
    - To engage with contemporary issues of social justice; to become more empathetic lawyers
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Sharon Cowan
Tel: (0131 6)50 8000
Course secretaryMiss Lauren McCrory-Irving
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