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The University of Southampton

LAWS1023 Legal Skills

Module Overview

This module is designed to develop the intellectual, practical and transferable skills needed to study law generally, and to allow you to see how these skills can be employed in legal practice. It builds on the legal knowledge acquired in the first semester and considers how some of these legal rules and principles are utilised in practice to determine various types of legal dispute. It particular, it develops your key skills in legal research and argumentation by asking you to regularly advise 'clients' on a variety of fictional scenarios which raise multiple legal issues that often intersect a number of discrete areas of law.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • sources of law and their relative weight and authority;
  • how the law operates in practice in various contexts, including the interaction between discrete areas of law that can arise, and the variety of means through which legal disputes can be resolved;
  • the diverse range of legal research methodologies;
  • the key role of thorough legal research and accurate use of legal authority in the development of rigorous legal argument.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • identify and locate primary and secondary legal sources both in print (in the library) and electronically (through relevant legal databases);
  • evaluate legal materials by way of statutory interpretation, case analysis, and the identification and analysis of relevant secondary materials;
  • analyse factual scenarios and apply legal rules and principles so as to produce reasoned, structured, and effective arguments, adequately supported by reference to legal authority;
  • conduct self-directed research.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • communicate and present written arguments supported by appropriate evidence;
  • effectively apply information to solve practical problems;
  • formulate an effective, reasoned and structured argument;
  • retrieve and evaluate accurate, relevant and appropriate information from a variety of sources.


Exemplars of the topics covered in lectures are given below, but these may change year-by-year, reflecting current developments and allowing syllabus evolution. - Law in context; - Reading cases and interpreting statutes; - Conducting legal research; - Legal disputes in practice; - Alternative dispute resolution; - An introduction to civil litigation; - Legal remedies; - An introduction to the criminal trial.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching will be by one 2-hour lecture per week and one 2-hour tutorial per fortnight. The tutorials are intended as occasions for detailed discussion of specific topics within the broader areas covered in lectures, and you are expected to come fully prepared. Reading and questions for preparation will be placed on Blackboard in advance of each tutorial. Tutorials are also occasions for you to raise problems and questions and to obtain feedback on your progress. Teaching methods include: - Lectures to provide knowledge and information within a structured context. - Small group tutorial work focused on problem solving skills and the development of reasoned argument. - Advance study and self-managed research is required for the tutorials and active participation required by all members of the group. Attendance at Lectures will develop: - The structure of the subject and key applicable substantive principles and rules of law. - Appreciation of constructive criticism of the law by consideration of key areas of controversy and doubt regarding the regulation of legal disputes. Preparation for Tutorials will develop: - Knowledge of the substantive principles and rules of the law; - Ability to manage and access a diverse range of sources of law, especially statutory material and case law, many on-line; - Ability to critically evaluate those sources and participate constructively in oral discussions concerning them; - Ability to structure and express thoughts in a logically coherent way; - Ability to apply those materials to problem solving exercises; - Time management and self-directed research skills. Learning activities include: - Directed reading assisted by reading lists and availability of materials on Blackboard; - Accessing electronic resources in the form of legislation, journals and case materials; - Reviewing and evaluating complex material; - Tackling and solving factual legal problems; - Formulating and presenting in oral and written form reasoned and structured arguments through formative tutorial activities and summative assessment. - Developing extensive case notes

Preparation for scheduled sessions46
Follow-up work20
Wider reading or practice24
Completion of assessment task30
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Slapper, G. & Kelly, D. (2015). The English Legal System. 

S Slorach, J Embley, P Goodchild and C Shephard (2015). Legal System and Skills. 

C. Maughan & J. Webb (2005). Lawyering Skills and the Legal Process. 

F. Boyle, D. Capps, P. Plowden & C. Sandford (2005). A Practical Guide to Lawyering Skills. 

E. Finch & S. Fafinski (2015). Legal Skills. 





MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2500 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2500 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2500 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:


Recommended texts for this module may be available in limited supply in the University Library and students may wish to purchase the mandatory/additional reading text as appropriate.

A legal skills textbook priced for the student market (typically around 25 GBP - 35GBP) will be selected and recommended for purchase.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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