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Unit information: Introduction to Law in 2015/16

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Unit name Introduction to Law
Unit code LAWD10016
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Quick
Open unit status Not open




School/department University of Bristol Law School
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit provides new law students with an intensive orientation towards their subject. It covers a basic knowledge of the English Legal System in terms of the purposes and functions of law, the historical development and sources of English law, the criminal, administrative and civil justice systems (structure, procedures and remedies), the role of practitioners, adjudicators and legal scholars as well as the funding of legal services. Basic legal skills of research, analysis, synthesis and problem-solving involving the handling of primary legal materials (case-law and legislation) are developed, as are the techniques of legal scholarship.

This unit aims to give new students a solid foundation to their study of law by providing them with a basic account of law, the English legal system, skills of legal reasoning and legal study skills. Students will be able to offer a basic account of the nature and purposes of law and the main divisions of law as well as the legal processes and remedies associated with those divisions. They will understand the sources of English law and where to find law. They will be able to solve simple legal problems by the application of statutory rules and precedential cases, and they will be equipped to launch into their further study of law by being able to undertake basic research exercises in a wide range of paper and electronic resources.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of this unit a successful student will be able to:

  • Place their study of first year foundational legal subjects such as constitutional law, criminal law, the law of tort, and contract law within a social and intellectual context.
  • Demonstrate an ability to identify relevant legal issues and/or principles
  • Develop arguments in relation to those issues or principles
  • Reach a considered and well-structured application of issues and principles.

Teaching details

This unit will be taught intensively over the latter part of introductory week and throughout weeks 0, 1 and 2 in a mixture of lectures and small groups. No other law unit will be taught at this time. This will amount to a total of 20 lectures, 4 two-hour seminars, a library/IT skills session, and a personal tutor meeting. Focused worksheets will be provided for each day providing students with a disciplined initial programme of reading and study on their arrival at university. All lectures will be recorded and classes supported by online materials.

Following the exam, there will be a one-hour feedback tutorial, during which students discuss their exam feedback in their tutor groups.

Assessment Details

The assessment for this unit requires students to demonstrate an ability to identify relevant legal issues and/or principles, to develop arguments in relation to those issues or principles, and to reach a considered and well-structured application of issues and principles.

The assessment for this unit will be a single two-part examination of 1.5 hours duration to be held in week 6 or 7. The first part will involve writing an essay and the second part will involve answering a problem question. The exam will assess all of the intended learning outcomes for this unit.

The unit is pass/fail only and students will not be given a grade for their work.

Students are required to prepare one piece of formative work in the form of a consolidated problem question for the final seminar. Feedback is provided in the seminar.

Reading and References

Martin Partington, Introduction to the English Legal System: 2015-2016 published by Oxford University Press (2015, 10th edition).

James Holland and Julian Webb, Learning Legal Rules (OUP, 2013)

Gary Slapper and David Kelly, The English Legal System: 2014-2015 (Routledge, 2014)

Catherine Elliot and Frances Quinn, English Legal System (Pearson, 2015)

Linda Mulcahy and Carl Stychin, Legal Methods and Systems (Sweet & Maxwell, 2010)