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The University of Southampton

LAWS1024 Legal System and Reasoning

Module Overview

Legal System and Reasoning is a predominantly skills-based introduction to studying the legal system of England and Wales, its institutions and practices, in the context of a more general understanding of law, legal theory and legal reasoning. It is designed to provide you with knowledge, understanding and skills that are foundational to your whole degree.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • the English Legal System’s structures and personnel, as well as its relation to other legal systems;
  • the doctrines, principles and values underpinning legal practice, including the various contexts in which law is found;
  • some of the important contemporary debates in the practice of legal decision making, in order to better understand both the scope and the limitations of that practice.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • read and evaluate cases;
  • appraise how the courts interpret legislation, including European legislation, and legislation giving effect to international conventions;
  • appraise how the courts interpret legislation, including European legislation, and legislation giving effect to international conventions;
  • identify and apply the principles of effective legal argument.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • apply the necessary skills which have been developed to engage fully in legal argument by a variety of different materials from both legal and extra-legal sources;
  • engage with your own personal and professional development, and academic integrity.


The module covers the sources of law, the doctrine of precedent, interpretation of legislation and legal reasoning. It addresses the issue of how to discover what the law is, and develops the skill of legal argument. Both the structure of the module and its content reflect a commitment to attaining and developing legal skills as an essential aspect of both academic and professional legal life.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching for the module is delivered via weekly lectures and tutorials. The tutorial works alongside the lectures, offering an opportunity for detailed discussion of specific questions relating to the broader issues covered throughout the course. In tutorials you will be introduced gradually to skills that you will be expected to practice and develop throughout the module and which also provide an essential common foundation for your work in all other modules. They also provide an opportunity for you to ask questions about, and obtain feedback on, your progress. Details of individual tutorial assignments, together with readings and questions for guidance, will be placed on Blackboard in advance. Learning activities include Lectures will develop: - the structure of the subject and the key doctrines and principles, institutions, practices and procedure of the English legal system - major issues and areas of controversy in relation to law and legal reasoning - complexity and contestability of legal argument, bringing together writings from a variety of different perspectives Preparation for, and participation in, tutorials will develop: - your ability to engage effectively with key legal research skills such as reading, summarising and interpreting sources of law - your ability to challenge widely held assumptions about the decision-making process and how these impact on the practice of judicial decision making - your ability to assess and comment critically on the effectiveness of others’ legal argument - your ability to discuss and defend your own argument among your peers - your time management and individual research skills

Follow-up work20
Preparation for scheduled sessions40
Wider reading or practice20
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Access to primary source material in the form of cases, statutes and secondary materials are all available either in the Library of via electronic legal databases. Skills guides developed for the module will also be made available through Blackboard. There are textbooks which can be used for reference, but the module can be studied without the need to purchase a textbook.. 





MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Written assessment 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Written assessment 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:

Books and Stationery equipment

All necessary materials will be provided within the module itself, or will be available via legal databases or the Internet. The subject has textbooks which are useful as references, but none are recommended for purchase. Students can therefore, if they wish, study the module without cost.


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.

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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