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Reading the Law


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 3
  • Convenor: Dr Bernard Keenan
  • Assessment: a take-home examination (100%)

Module description

At the core of a legal education is learning how to engage with legal texts and materials, such as case reports and statutes, in order to identify and understand legal principles and rules. In this Foundation Year module, we will prepare you to read and understand legal cases and judicial decisions, and introduce you to key concepts such as the ratio of a case and obiter dicta comments. You will learn about how law changes via judicial decisions, how judges go about making decisions and the limits of judicial reasoning.

Learning objectives

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

  • locate, read and understand case law and statutory law
  • identify the legal principles deriving from a case
  • identify the ratio of a case and obiter dicta comments
  • apply legal principles from case law as well as statutory law to problem scenarios
  • assess your own understanding of the common law
  • understand and give examples of situations in which judicial reasoning may be criticised.