School of Law

The School of Law is a leading centre for critical, interdisciplinary and innovative legal research, which informs our teaching and our interactions with policy-makers, public bodies, the legal profession, NGOs, campaign and pressure groups and the wider public.

You said: You want the College to offer more academic support

  • We have introduced measures to improve students' experience of academic support, feedback and assessment, including (a) the move to online marking, (b) the move to moderation instead of second marking in all programmes and modules across the School, and (c) to better our student/staff ratio, the hiring of an additional number of full-time staff at Lecturer positions.
  • We have circulated new information sheets to students on what they should do if they have queries or concerns, including those specifically related to academic support and assessment, so as to direct students more effectively and avoid information bottlenecks.
  • We introduced a Year Tutors system, to offer further academic support and advice to students, in addition to Personal Tutors. Both personal tutors and Year tutors now have Moodle shells, which they are actively encouraged to use in order to seek out and maintain contact with tutee students, upload useful materials and provide further support.
  • Personal Tutors and their contact info are now listed on students’ My Birkbeck records, as well as in the relevant Tutor’s Moodle shells.
  • The Senior Learning Development Tutor, Christina Delisthati, has designed specific study skills sessions and learning development programmes, tailor-made to cover the singular needs of Law students. These include lectures, workshops and tutorials, and have run successfully and to high demand in the past. Building on student feedback from previous years, these have now been improved and re-designed to make their focus much more specific and target the needs made explicit by our students.
  • Slides and other relevant materials from Learning Development and Academic Support lectures and workshops supported by the Senior Tutor are now available on Moodle in the ‘School of Law Learning Development’ module.
  • Information about academic support activities is now being included in students’ timetables and communicated to students via their My Birkbeck pages. The collaboration of our Communications Officer in the administrative team has proved decisive in this respect.
  • The Senior Learning Development Tutor is available to meet with students individually to discuss any specific needs during her office hours, thereby complementing the interaction between Personal Tutors and their student tutees.
  • We have introduced three specific dissertation skill sessions for First Year LLM/QLD students, to be taught throughout the Spring Term by full-time members of staff together with the Senior Learning Development Officer, as part of the students' normal teaching timetable, rather than as extra-curricular activities.
  • We have improved the information on the My Birkbeck pages to provide you with Academic Support information and contact details.
  • The initiatives to improve academic support are supported by improvements made to the departmental administrative support.

You said: Good-quality assessment and speedy and useful feedback are important to you

  • The introduction of online marking as well as moderation has been designed to free more time for teaching staff to offer better quality of feedback before and after assessment deadlines, at faster speed, and supported by the tools provided by digital platforms.
  • To supplement and support this development, we have introduced an obligation for all teaching staff convening a module to produce a marking guide as well as setting word counts and referencing guides. These are to be produced together with the assessment plan at the beginning of the term. Senior teaching staff will oversee the quality and consistency of the plans and marking guides. The specific marking guidelines could be shared with students.  
  • We update and continue to run marking workshops for staff to increase the quality and timeliness of feedback as part of the operationalisation of the move to online marking and moderation.
  • We redesigned the feedback form for some assessments to offer more tailored feedback.
  • The marking timeframe is now two weeks for marking and one week for moderation.
  • We have improved the information on the My Birkbeck pages to better provide you with better information regarding assessment and feedback.

You said: You didn't know how your mark had been calculated

  • The marking process has been simplified with the use of online tools and submission links on Moodle.
  • We have created distinctive and more comphrehensive Law Department and Criminology Department marking guidelines that explain how a mark is calculated, including a version for students. These generic guidelines are to be supplemented by specific module guides that teaching staff convening modules are obliged to prepare and present for Department oversight, together with their planned assessment scripts early in the relevant term, and to discuss with their students.
  • We have created a 'FAQs about assessments' section on the Criminology Programme Page of Moodle and in the Handbook.

You said: that you value getting support with personal development and employability

  • We revised the assessments on core modules to focus on developing key skills.
  • We introduced specific modules for the development of key and transferable skills in the First Year LLM/QLD and Criminology programmes, as well as clinical and practice-specific option modules in the final years.
  • All Year 1 modules in Law and Criminology now include skills-based and assignment prep classes.
  • Specifically designed Law careers events have been introduced to take place at least twice during the term.

You said: The College could offer better services to support your experience

  • The College has introduced skills sessions during the induction period.
  • A 'Training Needs Analysis' requirement at PGR has been introduced which must be undertaken annually by each PhD student, who, working with their supervisors, must identify particular areas of training need and propose how said need will be met. The Birkbeck Graduate Research School are developing a programme of workshops, courses, etc, to provide for training needs.
  • 30-page Induction and Skills Guide in Criminology and a similar Concordo guide in Law; an induction week skills programme for all new/Year 1 students.
  • Electronic copies of the modules guides are now posted a minimum of two weeks before classes start and in many cases earlier.
  • Digitised versions of required readings are now posted on Moodle for the first two weeks of class.
  • We created a 'Where to find information' flowchart to summarise key sources of information at School and College level.
  • We introduced an induction evening for returning students.

You said: the quality of teaching at Birkbeck is excellent

  • We think we could make it even better:
    • We have new Learning and Development workshops for students available at all levels of study
    • We now offer optional modules in the summer term to allow students to spread their course load throughout the year.
    • Together with the move to online marking and moderation, teaching staff will attend workshops and lectures that will improve their teaching skills.