Skip to main content


LAW1230 : Law and Ethics

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Joshua Jowitt
  • Lecturer: Professor Gina Heathcote
  • Owning School: Newcastle Law School
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


The Law and Ethics module introduces students to interactions between ethical issues and the positive law. These will be clustered into two topics: the role of ethics in legal reasoning; and the role of ethics – through conceptions of justice, fairness and equality/equity – with regards to access to, and diversity of viewpoints within, the legal system and the professions. The central aims are:

1) To develop knowledge of understanding of competing prominent theories of legal reasoning and the role of ethical principles in legal decision making;

2) To explain and evaluate the merits of including ethical concerns in legal decision making with reference to specific theories of legal reasoning;

3) To understand the importance of, and evaluate the success of attempts to increase, diversity of viewpoints in the professions;

4) To help you develop and practice fundamental critical, transferable legal skills for use in the

other subjects that you will study at Newcastle;

5) To engage you in critical reflection about the law; and

6) To develop your ability to undertake reflective learning and provide constructive criticism of others’ work.

Outline Of Syllabus

The Law and Ethics module is structured around two main areas:

(i) Ethics and Legal Reasoning;
•       Legal formalism;
•       Legal realism;
•       Legal positivism;
•       Natural law theories;
•       Critical Legal Studies (CLS)
•       Feminist Legal Theory

(ii) 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 ActivitiesLecture221:0022:00In person lectures on substantive class content
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion21:002:00Lecture + Q&A on poster design and reflective learning
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials40:302:00A combination of short recordings of lecture material and text designed to support SLTA.
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion351:0035:00Preparation and completion of two summative assessments (poster and coursework).
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities80:152:00Multiple Choice Quizzes allow students to self-test understanding of factual module content
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching41:004:00In-person seminars
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity15:005:00Students will provide feedback on each others’ draft assessments.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery41:004:00Feedback on students' assessed work; specific time for consultation on module specific issues.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1124:00124:00Combination of own reading and revision of substantive module content. Reading in advance of seminar
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The teaching methods have been adapted for delivery in the post-COVID environment and are based on the presumption that some in person lectures, seminars and in-person drop-in sessions shall be possible but that this shall need to be supplemented by on-line materials hosted on Canvas (alternative arrangements under ‘FLEX’ are included in case of the possibility of more limited possibilities for on Campus teaching).

Lectures (or an online version if required) The principal teaching method to the module is lectures. These will introduce competing theories as to the place of ethics within law, and will present them through the lens of judges and legal reasoning and formal/procedural and substantive justice. They will conclude with a case study concerning equality in the profession, the extent to which this is an ethical concern and balancing the demands of formal/procedural and substantive justice within this issue. In-person lectures will be supported with structured online guidance and activities.

Lecture materials Pre-recorded materials will be provided to introduce or scaffold material covered during in-person or online lectures, or provide guidance on assessment components.

Seminars (small group teaching) There will be four seminars following substantive areas addressed by the module to provide the opportunity to develop oral, interpretation and evaluative skills: (1) Formalism and Realism; (2) Positivism and Natural Law; (3) Dworkin, Pragmatism and Beyond and, (4) Equality, Law and Legal Institutions. 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. They 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 student progress. Each seminar is one hour long. Students will be asked a series of questions progressing in difficulty, designed to provide the knowledge and confidence with the topic required to complete the summative assessment for the module. Seminars will be synchronous events (whether online or PiP).

Skills practice / quizzes Canvas activities will support the lecture materials by providing structured non-synchronous discussion. Each MCQ may be completed within 15 minutes. These MCQs will provide an instant check on the initial knowledge needed to apply the theories under discussion to substantive issues, and will include feedback or guidance relevant to individual performances. These will contribute to formative activities ahead of the summative assessments.

Drop-in/Surgery sessions These sessions reflect the Law School assessment and feedback policy, that markers will offer the opportunity for one-to-one oral feedback on students' assessed work. Dedicated sessions will be made available for consultation with lecturers and seminarists with regards to poster design in advance of submission. The time given is indicative; more time may be scheduled if necessary, to meet the demand for individual feedback.

Assessment preparation and completion An additional lecture will be provided on academic poster design to provide students the opportunity to learn how to communicate complex issues through visual media and précis relevant information in a condensed yet accurate manner. Students will also be introduced to the idea of reflective learning, and how to offer constructive feedback on each others’ work.

Reflective learning activity Students are encouraged to develop group work and communication skills by meeting as groups to discuss and provide constructive feedback on their draft posters.

Independent study Students’ skills and knowledge base 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.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M701500 words
Poster2M30Academic Poster (A3) plus completion of peer review exercise
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Summative assessment is provided by means of an assessed essay and a poster exercise.

1) Assessed Essay – will comprise of a set question asking students to discuss the competing demands placed upon the courts by requirements of formal versus substantive justice with regards to equality in the profession. The main focus of the coursework and the primary consideration when marking will be evidence of research skills and appropriate legal writing.

2) Poster Exercise – students will be asked to produce an academic poster that examines the conformity of a particular case with natural law, legal positivism or an alternate theory of legal reasoning. Students will be provided with an approved list of cases selected from other stage one modules where such issues are prominent, and will be required to select one. As part of the assessment students will be required to peer-review one another’s’ draft posters and provide a 250 word paragraph detailing how they have responded to the critiques they have received.

In addition to formal assessment, students will be strongly encouraged to produce a skeleton essay plan to a pre-set question and meet outside of timetabled sessions to peer review each others’ work. Guidance will be provided on how to engage in reflective learning practices. This will ensure that they develop their oral, visual and written communication skills.

Reading Lists