SOAS University of London

School of Law

The Art of Advocacy

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2021/2022
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Year 2, Year 3 or Year 4
Taught in:
Term 2

This module provides students the opportunity to acquire transferable communication skills through the art of advocacy. Advocacy skills are relevant to all students regardless of intended career paths. Learning the art of persuasion through advocacy will help students, regardless of intended career path, to find their voice. It develops these skills through an understanding of the place of speaking and formulating arguments in trials. After an introduction to the principles of advocacy in both theory and practice, the module looks at the history and structure of the trial format, the major trial formats in use, the place and rationale for evidential rules, and constituent parts of trials. It covers the principles of advocacy in both civil and criminal trials and is intended to complement other modules such as Contract, Criminal Law and Tort.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • Aquire an understanding of the place of trials in justice systems
  • An ability to digest case papers
  • An understanding of the principles of effective advocacy and oral examination of witnesses
  • Knowledge of different types of advocacy and a critique of the trial systems
  • Knowledge of the elements of public speaking and making oral submissions
  • Increased skill in oral communication


Teaching will take the form of a one-hour lecture and a two-hour seminar each week.


Scope and syllabus

  1. Introduction: A history of advocacy
  2. Digesting the brief: Case preparation and theory
  3. The Anatomy of a Trial and Evidence
  4. Examining Witnesses
  5. The Role of Experts, Litigants in Person and McKenzie Friends
  6. The Art of Persuasion - Opening and Closing
  7. Trial Psychology and the Jury
  8. The Politics of the Judiciary

Method of assessment

Presentation 70%, Essay 30%. Students will complete one essay of no more than 1,500 words, and take part in a Advocacy in Mooting presentation, duration one hour.

Suggested reading

  • Iain Morley, Devil's Advocate (Sweet & Maxwell 2015)
  • Michael Hyam, Advocacy Skills (OUP 1993)
  • Keith Evans, The Golden Rules of Advocacy (Oxford High Education 2002)
  • Richard Du Cann, The Art of the Advocate, (Penguin 1993)
  • David Pannick, Advocates (OUP 1993)
  • Tom Bingham, The Business of Judging: Selected Essays and Speeches: 1985-1999
  • Steven Lubet, Modern Trial Advocacy (Lexis 2013)
  • Robert Burns, A Theory of the Trial (Princeton 1999)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules