Problem Solving and the Law

Module summary

Module code: LAW1247
Level: 4
Credits: 15
School: Liberal Arts and Sciences
Department: Law and Criminology
Module Coordinator(s): Ozgur Cinar / Monika Baronak-Atkins

Specification

Aims

One of the key difficulties experienced by students new to the study of law is the application of legal principles to factual scenarios and understanding how to use primary sources. Although these skills are developed to some extent in the Legal Skills course, the only substantive area of law where problem solving is taught in the first semester is contract law. The programme team identified this as an issue at the last Law Review and this new course seeks to address those concerns. The aim of Crime and Problem Solving is specifically to develop problem-solving skills in level 4 students through an area of substantive law which will stimulate student interest – that of criminal law. It is not intended that students will acquire an in-depth knowledge of criminal law, rather that certain crimes will be selected as a vehicle to develop these key skills in accordance with the QAA benchmarking. Students will work from primary sources only. The other area of difficulty faced by level 4 students is the transition from school to university. Recognising this factor, and in keeping with both the philosophy underlying the Greenwich Graduate Initiative and the University’s new Teaching and Learning Strategy, this course will seek to enable students to start to become autonomous learners by the adoption of problem-based learning. The final aim of the course is to familiarise students with primary source materials and develop their skills in using these.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:
1 Show problem-solving skills by applying legal knowledge to factual scenarios of limited complexity and providing appropriate legal advice;

2 Work from primary legal sources (statutes and case law)
3 To start to operate as an autonomous learner within a supportive environment;
4 To write in a relatively clear and concise writing style;

5 To present arguments in a logical and coherent manner;
6 To reflect on his or her own learning.

Indicative content

This is primarily a skills course. Problem solving will be taught through a study of two of the following areas:
• Non- fatal offences against the person
• Theft
• Protection from Harassment
• Criminal damage
• Sexual offences
• Contract law
• Commercial law

Teaching and learning activity

The course will be taught predominantly through two-hour weekly workshops using a modified problem-based learning approach. Students will work in groups with the tutor prompting and guiding the discussions. The course has been designed in recognition of the fact that learning takes place when teaching activities are seen by students to relate directly to their assessment. To this end, all learning will take place and will be structured around a long scenario which will form the basis of the two pieces of assessment. The first piece of coursework (weighted at 25%) will require a discussion of one of the incidents in the scenario and will be set in week four. The second piece of coursework will require a discussion of the whole scenario and will be completed at the end of the course. In the two-hour weekly workshops, students, using primary sources only, will work on specific tasks which have been carefully designed to help them build up, week by week, the knowledge and skills necessary to complete the assessments. Feedback will take place at all points throughout the course.
Firstly, the course design means that the more the students do in class, the more informal feedback they receive. This feedback can, in turn, be acted upon and fed forward into the next task. By virtue of the fact that all tasks are directly relevant to the assessment, students will, it is hoped, actively participate and seek feedback during the workshops. Secondly, students will receive timely formal individual feedback, both written and oral, at a relatively early stage on completion of the first piece of coursework. Because this work will form a small part of the second piece of coursework, students will have a direct incentive to carefully read and act upon their individual feedback. More importantly, by applying the lessons learnt and understanding their particular strengths and weaknesses they should also improve their performance in the assessment as a whole.
Learning Time (1 credit = 10 hours) Contact Hours. Lectures 12; seminars 0; practical sessions 24; tutorials 0; other 0; Private Study 90; Assignments: course work and other forms of assessment: coursework 24; laboratory work 0; examinations 0; other 0.

Assessment

Method of Summative Assessment: Introductory Essay.
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4&5.
Grading Mode: Numeric.
Weighting: 25.
Pass Mark: 40.
Word Length: 1000 words.
Outline Details: Introductory essay.

Method of Summative Assessment: Extended Essay.
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5&6.
Grading Mode: Numeric.
Weighting: 75.
Pass Mark: 40.
Word Length: 2200 words.
Outline Details: Extended essay.

Students are required to pass all elements of summative assessment in order to pass the course.

Nature of FORMATIVE assessment supporting student learning
Students receive feedback on their drafts of coursework as part of the module structure