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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Undergraduate Course: Scots Law of Evidence: Principles, Policy and Practice (LAWS10225)

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 aims to critically interrogate the status, purpose and place of the Scots law of evidence in order to understand why the Scots law of evidence has developed in the way that it has.

Students will identify and critically assess the various legal and non-legal principles that influence the black-letter evidential rules in Scotland, in order to further their understanding of the Scots law of evidence. This task will entail study not only of evidential legal scholarship but also consideration of certain non-legal disciplines such as psychology, philosophy and forensic science. Sociolegal factors that impact upon the process of proof both inside and outside the court-room will be studied and debated.

Whilst the focus of the course will be on the Scots law of criminal evidence, consideration will also be given to the civil law of evidence and comparative legal scholarship related to the development of evidential doctrine elsewhere, in both adversarial and inquisitorial jurisdictions, where appropriate.

The course will be divided into two parts. The first part of the course (comprising the first three seminars) will provide students with an introduction to the analytical framework that they will need to hone and apply in the second part of the course. The second part will seek to evaluate selected principles and rules of the Scots law of evidence in the light of the critical framework introduced earlier. The course also features some guest lectures from relevant figures in the profession in order to set the subject in context.
Course description Part 1 of the course comprises three seminars which provide students with the analytical framework they require to explore evidential doctrine in Part 2.

1. An introduction to an inter-disciplinary approach to the Scots law of evidence: the processes which affect the construction, interpretation and importance of facts in litigation;
2. The theory and the practice: understanding the tension between the theoretical aims and the practical reality of the Scots law of evidence;
3. Truth, justice, socio-legal scholarship and the law of evidence.

Part 2 of the course comprises a series of seminars where individual principles and rules of the Scots law of evidence are evaluated in light of the scholarship introduced in Part 1. An indicative content (which may vary from year to year) is:

4. The admissibility of unfairly obtained real evidence in Scots law;
5. The corroboration requirement, associated evidential doctrine and principle v pragmatism ;
6. Sexual Offences Trials and the Scottish Rape Shield Legislation;
7. Hearsay and the Scots law of evidence, including the case for reform;
8. The Moorov doctrine in the Scots criminal law of evidence;
9. Expert evidence and Scots law.
10. The Future Direction of the Scots Law of Evidence
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Evidence (Ordinary) (LAWS08141)
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
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a detailed knowledge and understanding of: key evidential doctrine, relevant case law, legislation and governmental policy relating the Scots law of evidence; the legal and non-legal factors that shape it; contemporary debates surrounding evidential reform; critical scholarship relating to the process of fact construction; and the impact of associated disciplines such as psychology and science on the process of proof in Scots law.
  2. Developed the necessary skills to undertake detailed legal research in relation to the Scots law of evidence and the law of evidence in other relevant jurisdictions using online databases, resources and appropriate textbooks.
  3. Demonstrate independence of thought and critical analytical ability; observe legal proceedings critically; and interact on an informed basis with legal professionals and policy makers in relation to the Scots law of evidence.
  4. Communicate complex legal information in a clear and accessible manner; and communicate key ideas spanning several disciplines relating to the principles, policies and practice of the Scots law of evidence.
  5. Developed the necessary technical and practical skills to understand and present oral legal argument in relation to the Scots law of evidence. Have the ability to work independently in order to prepare for seminars by undertaking assigned reading and research thus demonstrating an ability to prioritise and manage their time; and engage in respectful discussion and debate with others in seminars.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Keywordsevidence,Scots law,criminal
Course organiserMr Eamon Keane
Course secretaryMs Dominique McKie
Tel: (0131 6)51 4550
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