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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Undergraduate Course: Freedom of Expression Law Clinic (LAWS10190)

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 Credits40 ECTS Credits20
SummaryThe Freedom of Expression Law Clinic provides a unique opportunity for students at Edinburgh Law School to work alongside practicing lawyers on international casework. The perspective of the course is both analytical and practical and the key objective is to afford students the opportunity to apply their knowledge of substantive law to a real client case. In so doing, students will be exposed to ethical-social values instrumental to the practice of law and reflect on the relevant social, political and economic context of legal casework.

The clinic will specifically address cases of violation of Freedom of Expression and human rights violations against journalists. The Clinic is a collaboration between Edinburgh Law School and the international NGO Media Legal Defence Initiative based in London. Traditional academic teaching will be complemented by clinical supervision from experienced practitioners both within the law school and with the partner organisations. Throughout the course, students will work towards draft submissions to the United Nations Special Procedures Mechanisms, notably the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
Course description The weekly sessions will typically consist of two parts, approximately 50 minutes long each. These will combine both theoretical academic lectures and clinical supervision, allowing for follow up on the lectures and group work on cases.

The course will be available to a selected group of 12 students, which will allow dedicated and personalised clinical supervision. The students will be split into smaller groups and each will work towards drafting a submission for a different case. While the academic lectures and the general clinical supervision will be common to both the groups, the supervision on the draft submission will be personalised and group-specific.

The course will include two main parts: an academic and a clinical component, which, although mutually reinforcing, will deliver different but intertwined programmes. Throughout the course, the academic and clinical component will provide the students with a unique set of substantial knowledge about freedom of expression and the regulation of newsgathering activities in a comparative perspective, on the one hand, and practical and usable skills relevant to their future professions, as well as first-hand experience in drafting submissions to the UN Special Rapporteur and working on human rights cases.

Throughout the seminars the course will cover academic topics such as:
- Introduction to the Legal Mechanisms for the Protection of Human Rights.
- Legal theories of Freedom of Expression.
- Human Rights in action and the three-part test.
- Freedom of Expression in the ICCPR and in the UN Human Rights Mechanisms.
- Freedom of Expression in a comparative perspective: the ECHR, the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights, the African Convention on Human and Peoples' Rights.
- Legal protections for journalists and media operators in a comparative perspective.
- The scope of journalistic privileges and shield laws: the case of bloggers and citizen journalism.
- Data protection and the case of whistleblowers.
- Hate speech.
- The right to privacy.
- The legal background of the cases: substantive questions and issues arising from the work-in-progress on the draft submissions.

The clinical component may cover the following topics:
- Introduction to clinical legal education and professional identity.
- The role of NGOs in international advocacy and casework.
- Presentation of the Freedom of Expression Law Clinic, allocation of research and writing exercise and timeline of deliverables.
- Introduction to reflective journal writing.
- Legal research and case theory - exploration of case theory and allocation of cases to students.
- Case management - how to maintain case files, preparation of case outline and legal work plan.
- Case investigation - evidence gathering, legal research and drafting the skeleton submission.
- Client handling - client consent and first draft of the submission.
- Feedback on draft submissions and preparation of final drafts.
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 Full Year
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 400 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 8, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 372 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Feedback After each weekly session a formative assessment on the academic component, in the form of self-evaluation multiple answer quizzes, will be made available to the students. Halfway through the course, the students will write and submit a journal entry of around 1500 words about their experience with the clinic and their contribution to the draft submission thus far. Further to this, the advancement of the work group on the draft petitions and the individual journals will be regularly monitored by the practitioners who will also give feedback to the students.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate an analytical, in-depth knowledge of the following legal provisions: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Art 19 and other provisions relevant to Freedom of Speech and their protection/implementation) and the relevant case law; the European Convention on Human Rights (Art 10 and other provisions relevant to Freedom of Speech and their protection/implementation) and relevant case law; the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (Art 9 and other provisions relevant to Freedom of Speech and their protection/implementation) and the relevant case-law; the Inter American Convention on Human Rights (Art 13 and other provisions relevant to Freedom of Speech and their protection/ implementation) and the relevant case law; the regulation of journalistic professionalism (such as journalistic privileges and duties and 'shield laws') and the legal challenges at stake with the rize of 'citizen journalism' in a comparative perspective; the special procedures of the UN Human Rights Council; legal provisions concerning limitations to free speech such as privacy rights and hate speech; theories of freedom of speech in a comparative perspective.
  2. Have gained practice-relevant skills such as: developing case theory and legal strategy; collaboration; decision making; legal research; document and fact investigation; advocacy.
  3. Have familiarised themselves with the detailed legal framework for the protection of freedom of speecu under international human rights law and, in particular, the UN special rapporteur mechanism; the international and regional treaties for the protection of freedom of speech, developing a comparative and critical understanding thereof; the most current issues related to freedom of speech from a critical perspective.
  4. Develop strong teamworking skills, and in particular will learn how to: exercise autonomy and initiative in professional activities; take significant responsibility for their own work; develop a clear awareness of own and others' roles and responsibilities; work effectively, under guidance, in a peer relationship with qualified practitioners; deal with complex ethical and professional issues and make informed judgements, under the supervision of experienced practitioners.
  5. The law clinic aims to instil a sense of professional responsibility for the role lawyers play in Society. On a practical level, students will be trained to consider ethically-sensitive issues such as client confidentiality, confidentiality of data and cases while working online and through the sharing of sensitive legal materials online.
Reading List
Barendt, E. Freedom of Speech (2nd ed.). Oxford UP 2007
Church J., Schulze C. and Strydom H., Human Rights from a Comparative and International Perspective. Unisa 2007
Clayton R. and Tomlinson H., Privacy and freedom of expression. Oxford UP 2010
Clayton R. and Tomlinson H., The Law of Human Rights (2nd ed.). Oxford UP 2010
Conte A., Burchill R., Defining Civil and Political Rights: The Jurisprudence of the United Nations Human Rights Committee (2nd ed.). Ashgate 2007
Fenwick H.M. and Phillipson G., Media Freedom under the Human Rights Act. Oxford UP 2006
Kerrigan K & Murray V, A Student Guide to Clinical Legal Education and Pro Bono. Palgrave Macmillan 2011.
Molnar P. ed., The content and context of hate speech. Cambridge UP 2012
Morgan L, Price M. and Verhulst S. eds., Routledge Handbook of Media Law. Routledge 2013
Scheingold S.A and Sarat A, Something to Believe In: Politics, Professionalism, and Cause Lawyering. Stanford UP 2004
Scheingold S.A and Sarat A (eds), Cause Lawyering: Political Commitments and Professional Responsibilities. Oxford UP 1998.
Shepard J.M., Privileging the Press: Confidential Sources, Journalism Ethics and the First Amendment. LFB 2011.
Smith R.K.M., Textbook on International Human Rights. Oxford UP 2005
Vilojen F., International Human Rights Law in Africa. Oxford UP 2007
Weissbrodt D.S. and ┬┐de la Vega C., International Human Rights Law: An Introduction. University of Pennsylvania Press 2007
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsFreedom of Expression,Legal Clinics
Course organiserDr Paolo Cavaliere
Tel: (0131 6)51 5137
Course secretaryMiss Susie Morgan
Tel: (0131 6)50 2339
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