Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 1
Mutually Exclusive
Mutually Exclusive
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 3 Hours. Three one hour seminars during the semester
Lecture 16 Hours. Two one hour lectures per week


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 1.5 Hours   100%

Learning Outcomes

Students of this module should be able to understand the development of the legal system, and be able to comment upon the characteristics which this has produced. In particular, they should have an understanding of the use and significance of judicial precedent, and the relationship between binding precedent and the system of courts. They should be able to describe and comment upon the so-called "rules" of statutory interpretation, and see how this, and the role of judges in interpreting precedents is perceived as " law-making". Students should understand the difficulties in ensuring access to justice, and the role of the legal profession and the jury.

Students will have knowledge and understanding of:
- the theoretical underpinning of law and
- the legal environment
Analytical skills will be developed together with an understanding of relevance and irrelevance.
As to other skills and qualities, students will develop:
- independent research skills,
- written and oral skills,
- reading and interpreting information.

Brief description

The course examines the structure of the legal system in England and Wales. The role of the judiciary in the interpretation of legislation and the development of case law will be analysed in detail. Dispute settlement methods will be examined by looking at the formal legal litigation process and the course will also address wider issues of access to justice, including legal aid. An outline of the distinction between law and fact will be provided because of the importance of this to legal studies generally. The structure of the court system and the role of the legal profession will be examined. A course such as this would not be complete without an introduction to the historical development of the law in England and Wales and this is provided, with particular emphasis on the growth of common law and equity. The course aims to provide the student with a thorough understanding of the environment in which the law operates and also to appreciate that law is a dynamic, constantly changing subject and not simply a rigid body of rules which are to be memorised. An understanding of such matters as judicial precedent and the methods used by the judiciary for the interpretation of statutes will greatly benefit students when faced with subjects such as criminal law or land law.


The Module aims to provide students with an understanding of the structure, historical development and workings of the legal system in England and Wales, and to enable students to critically assess legal systems.


1. Introduction to law as a subject.
(i) What is " law". (ii) A brief history of the development and sources of the legal system in England and Wales. (iii) Distinctions and categories of law.

2. Outline of the Court System
i) The structure of the legal system in England and Wales. (ii) The civil and criminal appeal systems.

3. Law and Fact
(i) The importance of the law/fact distinction in theory and practice. (ii) Inquisitorial and adversarial systems compared.

4. Case Law and the System of Precedent
(i) The role of case law in the legal system of England and Wales. (ii) Comparison with other legal systems. (iii) The English system of precedent in operation. (iv) Precedent in the European context.

5. Legislation and Statutory Interpretation
(i) The structure of Bills. (ii) The legislative process. (iii) The "rules" of statutory interpretation and other aids to interpretation. (iv) the impact of The Human Rights Act 1998

6. Tribunals and Alternative Dispute resolution
(i) Categories of Tribunals. (ii) Different modes of ADR. (iii) Reforms.

7. Access to Justice
(i) Overview of the old Legal Aid system. (ii) The new financial provisions; the Access to Justice Act 1999. (iii) Ongoing reforms to the criminal justice system.

8. The Legal Profession and the Role of the Jury in the Legal System
(i) The role of the legal profession and the judiciary in England and Wales. (ii) The role of the jury. (iii) New legislation, reforms and their relevance.


This module is at CQFW Level 6