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LAW1110 : Legal Institutions and Method

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Ruth Houghton
  • Lecturer: Dr Emilia Mickiewicz, Professor Bryan Clark, Professor Richard Collier, Dr Joshua Jowitt
  • Other Staff: Mrs Beverley Smith
  • Owning School: Newcastle Law School
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 20.0


The Legal Institutions and Method module has three inter-related principal aims:

(i) To provide an introduction to the legal system of England and Wales;

(ii) To help you develop and practice fundamental critical, transferable and legal skills for use in the other subjects that you will study at Newcastle; and

(iii) To engage you in critical reflection about the law.

Outline Of Syllabus

The Legal Institutions and Methods module is structured around four main areas:

(i) Legal Institutions of England and Wales;

•       An overview of legal institutions;
•       The structure and functions of courts and tribunals;
•       Legislation and statutory interpretation;
•       The theory and practice of judicial precedent;
•       European Union Law and the European Convention on Human Rights with respect to precedent and statutory interpretation

(ii) The Trial and Narratives;

•       The civil and criminal justice systems;
•       Adversarial trials;
•       Inquisitorial trials;
•       Miscarriages of justice;
•       Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR);

(iii) Legal Reasoning;

•       Legal formalism;
•       Legal realism;
•       Legal positivism;
• Natural law theories;
• Critical Legal Studies (CLS)

(iv) Law and Equality

•       Diversity;
•       Access to justice;
•       Equality and diversity in the legal professions;
•       Equality and diversity in the judiciary.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture511:0051:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching91:009:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops12:002:00Client Inteviewing Demonstration
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops31:003:00Legal Database Lectures
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork13:003:00Court Visits (voluntary)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery41:004:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1328:00328:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The principal teaching method to the module is lectures. There will be 51 lectures and 9 seminars held over the course of the year, as well as workshops and fieldwork. The lectures will first introduce the principal sources of law, what they are and how to access them, along with the divisions and basic concepts of English law, the structure of the courts and court procedure. The module progresses through a series of landmark cases, debates and controversies. It engages with a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of different approaches to law and legal reasoning as well as a critical analysis of how different concepts operate in the context of legal argument.

The lectures will highlight key doctrines and principles, institutions, practices and procedures of the English legal system, the major issues and areas of controversy in relation to legal reasoning, and the complexity and contestability of legal argument, bringing together writings from a variety of different perspectives.

The seminars will encourage an active, integrated approach to the study of law and introduce the legal skills necessary to the study and practice of law both in the university and beyond. The seminars offer an opportunity for detailed discussion of issues covered in the lectures, for developing and practicing essential legal skills, and for asking questions and obtaining feedback on your progress.

These skills can be further developed in private study, which takes the form of directed reading in advance of lectures, consolidation following lectures and preparation for seminars.

Additionally, Legal Institutions and Method involves an assessed Client Interviewing Exercise, a practical exercise where students work in teams to elicit facts and advise on the law. This will enable students to further build upon those skills developed in seminars and lectures.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1352A65Students will be required to answer three questions from a choice of six.
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M252000 words
Prof skill assessmnt1A10Client Interviewing Exercise
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Essay1M1000 words
Written Examination1AMidsessional examination covering LAW1110 and LAW1122. Length: 90 minutes. Students will be required to answer 2 out of 2 questions.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Summative assessment is provided by means of an examination, an assessed essay, and an assessed practical exercise in client interviewing.

Additionally students will submit a formative essay in Semester 1, and students will sit one examination for formative assessment purposes in January. The examination will include one question for LAW1110 and one question for LAW1122, and will provide students with the opportunity to experience university examination conditions. Both formative assessments will provide the opportunity to test their knowledge and understanding of discrete topics and to practice their written skills and the cognitive skills of analysis, synthesis, critical judgment and evaluation.

Assessed Essay – will comprise of a set question on an issue or area not covered by the module’s taught curriculum. The focus of this coursework and the primary consideration when marking will be evidence of research skills and legal writing.

Examination – this paper provides the opportunity to demonstrate critical, analytical and evaluative skills, and the ability to structure critical argument and analysis.

Practical Client Interviewing Exercise – provides the opportunity for students to apply legal principles by means of structured role-playing and forms 10% of the overall mark.

Reading Lists