It will be remembered that one of our original motivations for developing this undergraduate module was to provide a feeder through to our newly developed MSc in Socio-Legal Studies. As a motivation, it is fair to say that this has not been fulfilled. That having been said, though, we remain totally committed to our undergraduate module for two particular reasons.
First, the student experience appears to have been enriched by studying this module. The foundational subjects studied as part of the LLB at Bristol are a mixture of doctrinal law and contextual analysis (although the degree of 'context' depends on how that word is operationalized by our colleagues). The socio-legal module enables students to reflect on the role and power of law across the curriculum, something which they can take with them into future careers or further study. The quality of work produced by our students also demonstrates their willingness and ability to develop their skills into new arenas.
Secondly, our sense is that our colleagues who teach on the module, and (most certainly) ourselves, are able to use it as a way of positively engaging our research with our teaching commitments. Our sense is that, often, lip service is paid to the link between teaching and research - particularly when research drills ever deeper into a field of study and moves ever further away from the seminar room in the foundational subjects. This module has enabled all of us to indulge ourselves by bringing the passion which we share for our research work to bear in the classroom.
Thirdly, we recognize that socio-legal studies has not been particularly well served by the standard undergraduate law curriculum (or at least not in some universities). This was the point made by the authors of the Nuffield Inquiry on Empirical Legal Research (2006), where they discuss 'the problem of selfreplication', 'academic careers in law schools', and the 'culture of legal scholarship' (paras 85-103). It has been our aim to meet those particular challenges head on. It would be wonderful to think that, in future, there would be no need for a standalone socio-legal module because the foundational subjects would incorporate the full range of socio-legal work within their delivery.