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Legal Argument and Language in Law (Level 6)


Module description

In this module we examine the skills and methods enlisted by legal practitioners and other legal actors in presenting legal arguments or justifying particular legal positions or interpretations. Designed for those interested in developing advanced legal (practitioner) skills as well as those with an academic interest in the theoretical and political implications of legal reasoning and language, this module begins with the basics of formal logic and reasoning then moves on to the methods and tactics enlisted (such as rhetoric and different rules of interpretation) to achieve specific legal outcomes.

We will focus on case law analysis, but will also consider broader literature to facilitate critical reflection on how language and forms of reasoning can privilege certain social, cultural or embodied identities and experiences.

Indicative syllabus

  • An introduction to legal reasoning and language
  • Rhetoric, interpretation and the creative potential of legal judgments/arguments
  • Critical reflections: the limits and potentiality of legal language

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • analyse and present the formal qualities of an argument
  • understand how the formal qualities of an argument and logical analysis of a statement relate to the practices of legal drafting, judicial reasoning and legal advocacy
  • identify different methods used in the legal argument, justification and persuasion that go beyond formal logic
  • present written arguments in a coherent and persuasive manner
  • understand the creative scope in legal interpretation and reasoning
  • understand the political and ethical implications of the ways in which the use of language in law and legal reasoning may privilege certain social, cultural or embodied identities or experiences
  • critically reflect on use of language and legal reasoning in individual cases.