The current module: ALRLR
The current module provides 10 credits of a total 120 for the year. It is delivered through four one-hour lectures, one library workshop, and four seminars of one-and-a-half hours' duration. The number of lectures has been reduced from five to four, and the self-learn/virtual learning environment (VLE) component increased, in response to focus group and other student feedback. The first lecture introduces students to 'non-doctrinal' approaches to the study of law and to the difference between empirical legal research and doctrinal analysis. It also introduces students to the quantitative/qualita- tive distinction, and outlines the range of empirical research methods used in socio-legal studies. The second lecture explains key concepts in quantitative empirical research, drawing on examples in the field of negligence focusing on personal injury claims and the compensation culture. The third lecture adopts a similar structure, introducing students to qualitative empirical research, in this instance illustrated with reference to literature on the impact of judicial review on administrative decision-making. The fourth lecture (by Sarah Blandy) takes the students through the design of an actual study undertaken for the Department for Constitutional Affairs, based on the methodology described in the article by Hunter et al. (2008), pointing out why particular methods were chosen, their advantages and drawbacks.
A detailed handout is provided at the beginning of the course, incorporating a 'workbook' designed to enable students to work independently through set questions and recommended reading. There is no standard textbook, so a range of core materials on doctrinal/empirical legal research and social research methods is made available on the VLE. In addition to such reading, for each of Seminars 2-4 students are asked to evaluate case-study journal articles drawing on empirical research. The case-study articles (one in each of Seminars 2 and 3, and two in Seminar 4) are carefully selected to illustrate the use of a range of empirical research methods by socio-legal academics in the subject areas which should be familiar from Year 1: Tort (negligence), Administrative Law (judicial review) and Contract.