Applied Research Methods and Law Reform: The Leeds Experience

Peter Vincent-Jones and Sarah Blandy


This chapter reflects on the experience over the past decade of developing and teaching a compulsory module on research methods in the second year of the LLB at Leeds.[1] While the degree programme is essentially doctrinal in nature, at least one module each year takes a broader approach: Legal Skills in Year 1, this module in Year 2, and Jurisprudence in Year 3. Students may also select from a wide range of options in the second and third years, some of which are socio-legal and/or theoretical (such as Family Law). In addition they may choose elective modules in subjects offered by other schools in the university. However, the compulsory first year diet of Torts, Contract, English Legal System and Constitutional Law does not encourage exploration of 'law in action' as distinct from 'law in books' (Pound, 1910). There is therefore little prior context for the introduction of a socio-legal approach to the study of law in Year 2, or preparation for the idea that legal research might include empirical investigation of the law/society relationship.

  • [1] Staff currently teaching on the course are Sarah Blandy, Peter Vincent-Jones (moduleco-ordinator since 2004) and Julie Wallbank. Other colleagues who have taught on previousversions of the module include Phil Hadfield, Chloe Wallace and Emma Wincup.
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