Skip to main content

Unit information: Children and Young People in the Law A in 2018/19

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing and student choice.

Unit name Children and Young People in the Law A
Unit code SPOL30057
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Jo Staines
Open unit status Open
Pre-requisites

None

Co-requisites

None

School/department School for Policy Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description

This a third year optional unit that tackles some of the key challenges and tensions within the English legal system for children and young people. Within an overall framework of children’s rights, this unit explores children and young people’s status within the English legal system and questions how - and why - children may be viewed as dependent or autonomous, vulnerable or unruly, and how these conceptualisations may conflict within the law. A wide range of topics are used to analyse the tensions inherent within children’s participation in legal situations, including children and young people as witnesses and defendants in criminal proceedings; as subjects of medical intervention; as refugees and asylum seekers; as parties to parental divorce and separation; or involved in adoption, fostering and child protection proceedings. Discussions will focus on the potential discrepancies between enabling children’s autonomy and ensuring their best interests are paramount in legal decisions, and how these competing, and sometimes contradictory, aims can be reconciled. The law is ‘alive’ and ever-changing; students are encouraged to research current cases, as reported in the media and in law reports, which are then discussed in seminars. The formative assessment is a written essay, designed to ensure you have a firm knowledge-base and thorough understanding of the law in preparation for the final exam.

The objectives of the unit are to develop students’ awareness and knowledge of:

  • how children and young people are perceived and treated by current civil and criminal legislation in England and Wales;
  • the needs and rights of children and young people involved in legal proceedings;
  • the needs and rights of children as victims, perpetrators and witnesses of crimes and antisocial behaviour;
  • the tensions inherent within legislation that aims both to protect children and enable their active participation in legal decisions
  • Students who successfully complete this unit will have:
  • Gained a sound grasp of the needs and rights of children and young people involved in legal proceedings;
  • Gained an understanding of how these important considerations apply when children and young people’s circumstances and experiences cause them to be subject to processes of law or legislation;
  • Gained an understanding of the differences and similarities in perceptions of children within different legal systems.

Intended learning outcomes

Students who successfully complete this unit will have:

  • Gained a sound grasp of the needs and rights of children and young people;
  • Gained an understanding of how these important considerations apply when children and young people’s circumstances and experiences cause them to be subject to processes of law or legislation;
  • Gained an understanding of cross national differences and similarities in perceptions of treatment of children within legal systems.

Teaching details

Teaching methods include lectures, seminars, student presentations and guided individual study.

Assessment Details

Formative assessment by an essay maximum 2000 words.

Summative assessment:

3 hour unseen exam

Reading and References

• Fionda, J. (ed) (2001) Legal Concepts of Childhood. Oxford: Hart Publishing

• Piper C (2008) Investing in Children: Policy, law and practice in context, Cullompton: Willan

• Darbyshire, P. (2014) Darbyshire on the English Legal System, (11th ed), London: Sweet and Maxwell

• Herring, J (2015) Family Law, (7th ed) Harlow: Longmans

• Jones P and Welch S (2010) Rethinking Children’s Rights: Attitudes in Contemporary Society, London: Continuum

• Slapper G (2016) How the Law Works, (4th ed) London: Routledge

Feedback