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2010/1 Module Catalogue
 Module Code: LAWM056 Module Title: LEGAL SKILLS
Module Provider: School of Law Short Name: LAWM056
Level: M Module Co-ordinator: GALLIMORE P Mr (Schl of Law)
Number of credits: 0 Number of ECTS credits: 0
Module Availability
Assessment Pattern

Assessment Requirements

Components of Assessment





Students will be required to submit a 500 word piece of coursework on a basic legal subject. The focus of the assessment is the construction of evaluative legal argument, appropriate selection of and reference to legal sources and written communication skills more generally.


Students undertake a 1 hour exam in which they must read and write a note on a case to show the skills of case reading and summary.

Assessment Criteria

A         Basic Content Criteria

1.  Identification of Key Legal Principles and Concepts

Students should demonstrate the ability to identify and define key legal principles and concepts relevant to an understanding of the legal process and to legal research.

2.  Research Skills

Students should demonstrate that are able to undertake appropriate research of both primary (e.g. cases and statutes) and secondary sources (e.g. journal articles and texts) and to the difference between such sources. All legal authorities and other source material should be properly cited and a bibliography included with coursework.

3.  Analysis of the Law and Application to the Question 
Students should demonstrate the ability to analyse the relevant law, recognising gaps and inconsistencies, and to apply it to the issues raised by the title.

4.  Evaluation and Synthesis

Legal discussion should be subjected to critical analysis and, where appropriate, a consideration of its wider context.

5.  Conclusions

Students should demonstrate the ability to reach appropriate conclusions drawn from their analysis of the law and of the issues raised by the question. Depending upon the nature of the question, such conclusions may appear in the course of analysis or in a concluding section. 

B          Basic Presentation Criteria (in both the workbook and the discussion)

1. Structure

2. Clarity of expression

3. Conciseness

4. Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation

5. Legibility 

The assessment strategy is formative. It is designed to discover whether the student has attempted to develop his or her legal skills, undertaken the required reading, and developed a critical awareness of the central skills relevant to studying law.

Module Overview

Module Aims

This introduction course explores the resources available for the study of law, and develops skills necessary for legal study. 

The primary objectives of the course are:

  • To develop analytical and problem-solving skills to equip students to participate effectively in Year 1 modules
  • To develop the legal reasoning and composition skills of students to a sufficient standard to equip them for critical discussion and effective legal writing in their Year 1 Law modules
  • To promote an awareness in students of the need to develop their own oral presentation skills so as to allow the to benefit fully from tutorial learning
  • To promote an awareness in students of the need for clear, concise and accurate written presentation skills in assessments and otherwise
  • To develop awareness among students of the range of resources available for the study of law
  • To equip students with a familiarity in the effective and successful use of online legal resources in finding primary and secondary legal sources
  • To make students familiar with systems of legal research in the library
  • To develop understanding of the use of legal resources and materials to facilitate effective legal study
  • To develop awareness of how legal resources and materials should be used and presented both in research and in problem solving scenarios
  • To introduce the students to the basic features of the English Legal system such as the sources of law, interpretation of cases and statutes, and the court structure.

The course is structured to provide students with the skills and a contextual background for studying substantive law.  The course is closely linked to the substantive Year 1 modules. 

The course incorporates training sessions provided by the library and is also supported by U-Learn and e-learning delivery. 

Students on the Legal Skills course address such questions as:

  • What are the sources of English law?
  • How are Law Reports used?
  • How are statutes compiled and how are records of amendments collated?
  • What is the relevance of academic research to the study of law?
  • How should problem scenarios be clearly and accurately evaluated in writing?
Learning Outcomes

Intended Learning Outcomes

At the end of this introduction course the students are able to:

  1. Demonstrate a basic knowledge of the sources of law and the resources available to support legal research.  
  2. Demonstrate a basic understanding of the resources available in a law collection, and a critical appreciation of the relevance of different materials.
  3. Demonstrate a basic understanding of the doctrine of precedent and ability to find and read cases.
  4. Assess critically the strengths and weaknesses of available academic legal research.
  5. Demonstrate a basic knowledge of statutory interpretation rules.
  6. Identify key elements in a problem scenario and structure an argument that draws upon the law relevant to this problem (for example, be able to answer a problem).
  7. Identify key arguments and structure a reasoned opinion of a general or a specific nature (for example, be able to write an essay or draft an opinion).
  8. Demonstrate a basic knowledge of the English and EU court structure.
Module Content
  1. The sources of law
  2. The English and European Union legal system
  3. The hierarchy of courts and legal precedent
  4. The Digest and Halsbury’s publications
  5. Legal citations and referencing
  6. Literature searches
  7. Use of e-resources, including specific training in lexis and Westlaw databases
  8. Material evaluation
  9. Problem solving skills
  10. Opinion drafting skills
  11. Presentation skills
Methods of Teaching/Learning
  • Intensive lecture programme during the first 3 weeks over the course consisting of 6 two- hourly interactive large group sessions.
  • 3 seminars per week for a period of 3 weeks.
  • Library and resource material sessions (a mix of seminars and lectures) during induction week and throughout the semester designed to introduce the students to the resources available for the study of law.
  • Self-directed work using U-Learn.

The method of teaching is by lectures, seminars, training sessions and self-directed study using U-learn. The lectures will introduce the students to the subject areas and provide an overview to enable students to understand the basic principles and underlying concepts. The seminars will develop key skills and provide practical workshops on skills activities in small groups. The students will be provided with signposts to background and supplementary reading. U-Learn activities will guide the students through tasks set out in the course workbook on-line and sign-post further tasks and research students are expected to undertake.

The teaching and learning strategy is designed to stimulate student centred learning and private study using derivative and original sources, both paper based and electronic. The strategy is designed so students develop an understanding and critical awareness of the essential skills, philosophies and ethical values of the law.

Selected Texts/Journals

Expected Purchase

Holland, J & Webb, J, Learning Legal Rules ( Oxford , OUP 6th ed, 2007)

Additional Reading

  • Boyle, F A practical guide to lawyering skills ( Cavendish 3rd. Ed. 2005)
  • Bradney, A How to Study Law ( London , Thompson, 5th ed, 2005)
  • Clinch P, Using a Law Library ( Oxford , OUP, 2nd Ed., 2001)
  • Cownie F, Bradney A & Burton M, English Legal System in Context ( Oxford , OUP 54th ed, 2007)
  • Finch E & Fafinski, S, Legal Skills ( Oxford , OUP, 2007)
  • Gillespie A, The English Legal System ( Oxford , OUP, 2007)
  • Hanson, S, Legal Method and Legal Reasoning (Cavendish, 2nd ed, 2003)
  • Higgins, E Successful legal writing ( London , Thomson Sweet and Maxwell, 2006)
  • Holborn G, Butterworths Legal Research Guide ( Colchester : Reed, 2001)
  • Knowles J, Effective Legal Research ( London , Sweet & Maxwell, 2006)
  • MacCormick N, Legal Reasoning and Legal Theory, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978)
  • McBride N, Letters to a Law Student ( London , Pearson, 2007)
  • McLeod, I Legal method ( Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan, 5th ed. 2005.)
  • McLeod, I Legal theory ( Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan, 3rd. ed. 2005.)
  • McKie S, Legal Research: how to find and understand law, (London: Cavendish Publishing, 1993)
  • McVea, Exam Skills for Law Students ( Oxford , OUP, 2nd ed, 2006)
  • Smith ATH, Glanville Williams: Learning the Law ( London : Sweet & Maxwell 13th Edition, 2006).
  • Strong DS How to Write Law Essays and Exams ( Oxford , OUP 2nd ed, 2006)
  • Twining W, Miers D, How to do things with Rules (Cambridge; Cambridge University Press, 4th ed, 1999)
  • Ward, I Introduction to critical legal theory ( Cavendish, 2nd ed. 2004)
  • Wheeler, J, Essentials of the English Legal System ( London , Pearson 2nd ed, 2006)



  • Hansard 
  • Asprey M, Plain Language for Lawyers, ( Sydney : The Federation Press, 3rd ed, 2003)
  • Calabrasi, ‘One View of the Cathedral’, (1972) 85 Harvard Law Review 1089
  • French D, How To Cite Legal Authorities, (London: Blackstone Press, 1996)
  • Hart HLA, The Concept of Law (Oxford: OUP 2nd Edition, 1997)
  • Jeffries J, Legal Research and the Law of the European Communities, (West Yorkshire, Legal Info Resources 1990)
  • Jeffries J & Miskin C, Legal Research in and , (West Yorkshire, Legal Info Resources 1990)
  • Kahn-Freund, (1974) 37 Modern Law Review 1
  • Pennr JE Mozley and Whiteley's Law Dictionary, ( Oxford , OUP 12 edition, 2001)
  • Russell F & Locke C, English Law and Language: An Introduction for Students of English, (London: Cassell Publishers, 1992)
  • Twining W, ‘Pericles and the Plumber’, (1967) 83 Law Quarterly Review 396
  • Unger R, What Should Legal Analysis Become?, (New York: Verso, 1996)
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