A central question of this module is whether, and to what extent, there is anything distinctive about legal reasoning compared to other forms of reasoning. That question is posed from the perspective of a legal practitioner, in particular, an advocate. The aim of the module is to equip students – as potential advocates, but also in general – with a range of tools and skills of argument that are easily transferrable across legal and non-legal contexts. In short, to teach transferrable critical thinking skills within a legal context.
It is a premise of the module that any competent advocate, or indeed lawyer, must demonstrate a proficient grounding in basic logic. The module introduces students to basic forms of logical argument and explores the role and limits of logical inference in legal reasoning and generally. It considers both logical and psychological factors that may lead to flawed reasoning. The module also touches on other forms of reasoning of particular relevance to law including practical, statistical, policy-based and rhetorical forms.
The aim of most reasoning, including legal reasoning is to persuade. The module will therefore introduce students to the skills of legal persuasion via written and oral advocacy.
The theoretical background will provide the basis upon which students will learn to construct effective (legal) arguments and to practice the skills learned in a variety of written and oral contexts including skeleton arguments and mooting
This module appears in the following module collections.
One lecture and one seminar per week over 10 weeks.
Method of assessment
100% coursework, consisting of:
A skeleton argument of 1500 words (40% ) an Oral presentation (a Moot) (60%) including a revised skeleton argument of 500 words.
See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
1. Demonstrate a coherent understanding of what is meant by critical thinking, its associated skills and the obstacles that can hinder its effective development; in particular, to understand and demonstrate the function of effective critical thinking within and about legal reasoning
2. Demonstrate a coherent knowledge of the difference between argument and non-argument and to identify valid and flawed arguments.
3. Demonstrate a systematic understanding of different forms of reasoning, both legal and non-legal.
4. Demonstrate a coherent knowledge of the distinctiveness of legal reasoning.
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Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
- ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
- The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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