Conclusion

EU law is essentially a very socio-legal subject. As Cohen puts it, 'European integration is an acid test for the sociology of law' (Cohen, 2008, 'Introduction'). Rather than defensively assert its law credentials through heavy doctrinal, case-dense courses, we should embrace its interdisciplinary nature in the interests of meaningful study of case law, of giving students a way in to fascinating academic studies, and of helping students handle EU law practically as lawyers. For students who have not had much empirical exposure, it offers an ideal opportunity to think about social context, to handle empirical data (survey results, demographic data, electoral trends etc), to engage with studies that employ a variety of methodologies, and to take informed positions on issues subject to speculative rhetoric. It just does not make sense for such a socially charged subject to be distilled into a highly concentrated concoction of facts. Instead, this piece has argued for the dismantling of the three-pillar module, while recognizing the challenges this creates in terms of onus upon students to fill in the gaps if we are not explaining everything, and admitting that perhaps they need a bit more support than we have yet managed. A theme-led module allows for the consideration of fused institutional, principle-based and substantive elements, and, depending on the themes chosen, allows for an emphasis on important socio-legal questions. Learning activities will ideally help develop key socio-legal skills - cultivating a mentality of problem-identifying, norm- querying, and evidence-gathering.

There is certainly scope for significantly experimental module structures, for instance, tethering to a single learning activity subject to longitudinal review during the year, or adopting wholescale simulation projects, or even structuring the course round a few core case studies. However, given institutional and logistical constraints, it makes sense to think about less challenging ways to capture some of that spirit - through activities that serve big-picture objectives and that encourage the hunting and probing of constructs and concepts, rather than the consumption of 'facts' on a plate.

 
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