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LAW3050 : Judges and Judging (Inactive)

  • Inactive for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Conall Mallory
  • Lecturer: Dr Helene Tyrrell
  • Owning School: Newcastle Law School
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0


The Judicial Systems and Mechanics module has the following inter-related aims:

(i) To explore the relationship between legal theory and legal practice, providing you with a detailed understating of the mechanisms through which legal systems and legal actors work.

(iii) To provide you with an understanding of the interplay between different forces on the legal system, including the influences of comparative legal systems.

(iii) To develop your skills through different assessment methods, including unorthodox assessment formats such as conference papers and/or written evidence. This will offer a fringe benefit by way of exposure to the nature of an academic career and further study.

(iv) To encourage your ability to undertake student-centred learning through enhancing your critical analysis, research and problem solving skills.

Outline Of Syllabus

The Judicial Systems and Mechanics module is structured around two main themes:

(i) Judicial Mechanics
• Judicial reasoning: nature of precedent and persuasive authority: domestic / international / other persuasive sources including judicial comparativism. Covers notions of ‘interpretive space’.)
• The politics of the judiciary, judicial reputation, including critiques: e.g. judicial power project.
• Judicial appointments (Commission, diversity etc).
• Judicial legitimacy: ways this is achieved, secured and lost.
• Judicial leadership and judgment styles: dissenting opinions, concurring opinions, composite judgments, leading judgments.

(ii) Judicial Systems
• Canons of interpretation (building on LIM foundation).
• The separation of powers and judicial review (building on Public Law foundation).
• Relationships between courts and institutions, including judicial lobbying and dominance of the executive (comparative).
• Alternative judges, courts, tribunals (inc the judiciary at international tribunals).
• ‘Dialogue’ (courts & parliament; courts & political actors; courts and courts i.e. judicial exchanges, horizontally between other domestic judges and with supranational courts).
• Actors in court, practices statements, juries, interveners (amicus briefs / role of NHRIs & NGOs / actio popularis).

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture181:0018:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops62:0012:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops12:002:00Conference
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery61:006:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1621:00162:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The use of lectures as the dominant form of teaching delivery is justified by the technical nature of the subject and the absence of any overarching textbook to support study. Lectures provide students with an initial exposition to topics in order to assist their knowledge base. Teaching delivery is further facilitated by a series of workshops which use a variety of teaching methods specifically aimed at engaging students’ skills development. This includes presentations, class debates, group work and independent written exercises. Workshops focus on the examination of detailed issues covered in lectures and preparing students for the assessed components of the course. Workshops take place in a continuous collaborative environment which encourages teamwork and develops independence and leadership. Private study constitutes self-directed learning as well as study on the basis of the previously shared workshop questions and material from designated reading lists.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Oral Presentation152M30Presentation at conference event
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Research paper2M603000 words
Research proposal2M10Conference paper abstract. 500 words
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise2MDraft abstract relating to the summative coursework submission. 500 words
Oral Presentation1MIn-class formative presentation in a similar style to the summative presentation in semester 2. 15 minutes
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The emphasis on this module is to develop independent critical thinking, analytic and a combination of written and oral presentation skills. The module is strategically aligned to achieve this with an emphasis on the workshops in order to enhance skills development and prepare students for assessments. The module is assessed through three separate components which centre on a student-led conference. Students are assessed through the submission of a conference abstract research proposal (10%), conference presentation (30%) and coursework submission of the conference paper (60%). The submission of each of these units is consequential in order to assist the students’ continuing skills development. Therefore, the abstract will receive detailed feedback before the student gives their conference presentation, which in turn will receive comments from staff and peers before they submit their written conference paper.

Each assessment unit receives focused attention during the workshops with the students having multiple opportunities to practice their abstract writing, conference presentation (individually and as a group) and academic writing skills.

Reading Lists