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Department: LawSpecificationAimsThis is a 15 credit elective for first-year undergraduates studying LLB law, Law combined courses and Criminal Justice and Legal Studies. It has been created in response to the review of the LLB programme in April 2009, which proposed a number of changes to improve retention and attainment on that course.

It is clear that a number of students do not have the required skills and reading and writing English to succeed on the course. There have been previous non-credit bearing academic writing courses for Law students, but these are poorly attended, perhaps because students who are already struggling regard them as extra work.

This course will be compulsory for students identified as having a need for it, and will replace a 15 credit course based on the second half of the current English Legal System course. The aim of the course is to provide students with the ways and means to comprehend, question, evaluate and produce a range of discourses relevant to legal contexts.

To be successful academic writers, students need to be able to interact with other texts. To this end the course does not treat writing in isolation but views reading and writing as integral.

In order to write successfully in an academic legal context, students need to be able to analyse texts for relevant material, synthesise ideas from a number of sources (including legislation, case reports, journal articles and textbooks) and apply their knowledge to the problem scenarios and essay titles presented to them in their own words. Students would be directed onto the course by way of a diagnostic test administered by the languages and international studies department near the end of term 1.

Students identified as benefitting from the course will be enrolled on it for terms 2 and 3 of their first year, whilst other students take an alternative course provided by the department of Law and Criminology. Learning outcomes•Begin to critically analyse legal texts, and identify relevant and irrelevant material;•Begin to recognise and produce a range of academic genres such as explanation, exposition, description and argument;•Begin to apply argumentation skills to academic writing, including establishing one’s own opinion, building a logical, coherent and well-structured argument around this and using evidence to back up an argument;•Begin to use skills in synthesis, comparison, contrast and evaluation of information from different sources of information;•Understand what constitutes plagiarism and developing strategies for avoiding plagiarism;•Begin to adopt a successful approach to the writing process including awareness of the importance of planning, drafting, editing and revising;•Be able to apply knowledge from a range of sources to ‘problem scenarios’ and produce reasoned and appropriate legal advice.

Indicative content•Selecting and adopting successful reading strategies to cope with the academic task: skimming, scanning, gist reading, intensive reading•Analysing the logic of legal texts: recognising the main purpose of a text; identifying key information and concepts; differentiating fact from opinion; understanding writer bias; identifying assumptions, recognising inferences and implications; •Analysing the question: which genre? Understanding the features and attributes of key academic genres: explanation, exposition, description and argument; establishing the issues in problem scenarios;•Exploring academic writing conventions: the introduction; the conclusion; the bibliography; citation;•Understanding the different purposes of citation in order to make active decisions when to use direct citation; indirect citation; integral citation; non-integral citation; paragraph-long citation; phrase-long citation;•Developing effective summarising and paraphrasing skills to operate alongside citational choices in order to build an effective strategy for avoiding plagiarism;•Examining the writing process of planning, drafting, editing, revising in order to find a technique that suits the individual student;•Exploring and resolving problems of content, form, audience, style;•Ensuring the text has coherence and cohesion from sentence-level, to paragraph-level to whole-text-level;•Structuring the argument around the question and using evidence to back up an argument by developing the skills of establishing an independent viewpoint whilst also acknowledging an established viewpoint;•Developing effective editing skills;