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School of Law

Introduction to law and legal processes

Course Code:
Unit value:
Year of study:
Year 1
Taught in:
Full Year
This course constitutes an introduction to English common law and the traditions of Continental Europe, laying the foundations for the study of English law subjects and those parts of African and Asian systems which derive from European influences.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

By the end of the course students should:

  • be able to find legal sources in physical and electronic form, read and note a case, and identify with reasonable accuracy the material facts and the legal rule (ratio decidendi) of that case;
  • have a sound grasp of the doctrine of precedent, the principles of statutory interpretation, and the distinction between law and equity;
  • understand the structure of the English legal system (including the court system and the legal profession);
  • be able to understand basic legal theory and to be able to present arguments about the law; and
  • be able to have developed fundamental, transferrable and legal skills to use in the other subjects.

Scope and syllabus

The topics covered are likely to include:

  • The sources of English law
  • Legal method, reasoning and research
  • An Overview of legal institutions
  • The structure and functions of courts and tribunals
  • The civil and criminal justice systems
  • Alternative Dispute Resolutions
  • Legal Reasoning: The theory and practice of judicial precedent
  • Statutory Interpretation: Statutes, Codes and Statutory Interpretation in the Common Law; separation of powers; the introduction of the European dimension
  • European Union Law and the European Convention on Human Rights
  • The legal principles underpinning the interpretation and application of EU law in the ECJ and the national courts
  • Sources of EU Law
  • Public International Law: Introduction, Sources, State Recognition
  • Mooting

Method of assessment

Assessment weighting: 20% coursework (one 2,000 word portfolio worth 10% and one mooting exercise worth 10%); 80% unseen examination. Resubmission of coursework regulations do not apply to this course.