Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)


Department: Law


Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Not available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham


  • Introduction to English Law and Legal Method (LAW 1121) OR at the discretion of Chair of Board of Studies or delegate, a suitable module or combination of modules from another department.


  • • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • • None.


  • To provide a critical introduction to the relationships between law and public policy.
  • To develop a critical awareness of law, policy and legal change.
  • To provide a critical understanding of public advocacy as well as debating and negotiation skills.
  • To provide a critical introduction to major issues in socio-legal research.
  • To develop advanced socio-legal research skills, including knowledge about quantitative and qualitative research methods.


  • Law evolves. This module explores the social foundations of law, public policy and effective public advocacy to understand the processes of legal change and its wider social context. General lectures will introduce students to the relationship between law, public policy and social science; effective public advocacy; and strategic communication, including oral advocacy and body communication.
  • Knowledge is further developed and applied through engagement with four topics, two in each of Michaelmas and Epiphany terms. Topics may include the ‘Bill of Rights’, capital punishment, euthanasia, human engineering, immigration, internet regulation and terrorism. Topics will change annually and address issues at the law’s frontiers. Each topic will be introduced by a lecture and seminar to be led by a research centre or group in the Law School: the Human Rights Centre (HRC), the Centre for Criminal Law and Criminal Justice (CCLCJ), the Institute of Commercial and Corporate Law (ICCL), Gender & Law at Durham (GLAD), the Durham European Law Initiative (DELI), Law and Global Justice at Durham (LGJ), Islam, Law and Modernity (ILM) and the Centre for Ethics, Law and the Life Sciences (CELLS). Each topic will be debated and provide students with opportunities to demonstrate debating skills. Each student must deliver oral presentations in two debates. Judges will be drawn from academic staff and may also include external stakeholders drawn from practitioner and professional communities.
  • The module will provide a unique opportunity for students to become engaged with the Law School’s research centres and groups as well as to develop public advocacy and socio-legal research skills to enhance student knowledge of legal sources and develop their ability to research the law.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students should be able to:
  • Demonstrate a knowledge and understanding about legal change, public advocacy and socio-legal research.
  • Demonstrate a familiarity with the relevant literature and the leading debates surrounding key issues across the four areas selected for debate.
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of selected areas of substantive law.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students should be able to:
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of the relationships between law, public policy, legal change and public advocacy.
  • Demonstrate an awareness and understanding of the significance of law in its wider social context.
  • Demonstrate an ability to perform legal work in a group setting.
  • Demonstrate an ability to engage in oral argument in a debate setting.
Key Skills:
  • Students should be able to demonstrate developed research and writing skills, including the ability to work independently and to take responsibility for their own learning.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Students will be given the opportunity to consolidate, develop, present and apply the knowledge acquired through independent study. Students will be encouraged to utilise the wide range of learning resources, including electronic sources, available within the university in order to make a contribution to their learning and assessment as well as enable them to acquire key and subject-specific skills.
  • Lectures will be used primarily to impart knowledge and provide students with a framework for independent learning. Students must submit a summative essay that will assess knowledge and understanding relating to the lectures. This essay will be due after the conclusion of lectures and seminars.
  • Seminars will require students to display substantive knowledge, apply concepts learned, debate and develop a critical understanding of the subject. Seminars will also provide students with an opportunity to analyse and resolve problems individually and in small groups.
  • Students will be assessed on their individual contributions to two debates. Students must deliver an oral presentation for two debates. The formative assessment is a brief written critical assessment relating to the debates.
  • The assessments will test knowledge and understanding across the entire module. They will also test the ability to focus on the relevant legal issues and organise knowledge and argument appropriate to the topics raised. The summative essay and oral presentations in debates will provide the means for students to demonstrate their acquisition of subject knowledge and the development of their problem-solving skills.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 16 weekly 1 hr 16
Seminars 4 normally two in each of Michaelmas and Epiphany 1 hr 4
Debates 4 normally two in each of Michaelmas and Epiphany 1 hr 4
Preparation and reading 176

Summative Assessment

Component: summative essay Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
summative essay 4000 words 100%
Component: oral presentations Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
presentation 1 10 mins 50% One written reflection of 1000 words on effective oral presentation delivery for failed oral presentation component.
presentation 2 10 mins 50% One written reflection of 1000 words on effective oral presentation delivery for failed oral presentation component.

Formative Assessment:

One critical written assessment of 2,000 words.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University