Student responses

Feedback is sought from all students at the end of the seminar series on the standard Law School feedback form. Students are asked to rate the module out of five; practically all seem to rate it at four or five. Particular comments note that tutors are passionate about the sessions they teach, which is particularly gratifying as the module reflects the research interests of such a significant proportion of staff within the school. Students are also positive about academics bringing their own research into the seminar room.

Questionnaire returns also reflect the fact that seminars are lively, with interesting, often wide-ranging debate. However, it is also the case that our questionnaire returns suggested that some students find certain topics more challenging than others, and, consequently, do not feel sufficiently able to engage with the discussion so that the seminars can appear one-sided. Some tutors have sought to get around that problem by providing a short introductory lecture (of about 20 minutes) to introduce the subject and provide a base for more complex analysis; that approach was well-received by the students. The inclusion of some theorists has proved more difficult than others when structuring seminars - in particular, our students have found Weber especially challenging - and, although we teach systems theory on our MSc in SocioLegal Studies, we have not introduced it at undergraduate level because we regard it as too challenging. Students have nevertheless particularly engaged with the 'street-level bureaucracy' literature, perhaps because of the more grounded approach.

Finally, our students regularly describe the module as exciting and refreshing, putting their other courses in 'context'; but they have also expressed anxiety because, in the main, the module is rather different from the other subjects studied within the LLB curriculum. Particular anxiety has been expressed over the assessments which, again, are different from those faced by the students within the rest of the LLB curriculum. As noted above, they are more open-textured and require the students to identify the object of study, rather than address a pre-defined object. Over the years, we have sought to ameliorate that anxiety through the use of formative assessments and by changing the course structure and seminar content.

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