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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Undergraduate Course: Precedent in Legal Reasoning (LAWS10230)

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 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.

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 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
Not being delivered
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
  3. Further develop an understanding of the moral and political dimensions of precendent based reasoning in law
Reading List
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
Email: Luis.Duarte.D'
Course secretaryMs Dominique McKie
Tel: (0131 6)51 4550
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