The University of Southampton
Courses

LAWS2029 Foundations in Criminal Evidence Law

Module Overview

This module offers an introduction into some of the most fundamental rules and principles governing the admission, exclusion, and presentation of evidence in the criminal trial. It provides critical insights into the trial process, the purpose of key restrictions on admissibility, and protections afforded to defendants. The law of evidence developed throughout the centuries in the context of the jury trial but has recently undergone wide-ranging reforms, sometimes driven by controversial policy objectives. The module offers a critical perspective on the English law of evidence and will enable you to consider its underlying purposes and policy objectives, and equip you with the skills needed to apply the law to complex factual situations.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

To provide you with an understanding of some of the core evidential rules and principles, and the adversarial trial structure in which they operate. It affords practical and philosophical insights into the functioning of these rules, and the values and policies underpinning them.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • some of the main rules of evidence and the way they are applied in a trial context.
  • the function of procedural and evidential rules and the process values and policies involved.
  • the key protections afforded to defendants in the criminal trial.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • critically evaluate rules of evidence and the policies and values involved.
  • evaluate the normative justifications for excluding particular types of evidence.
  • demonstrate critical awareness of the role of the courts in developing the law of evidence.
  • construct clear and coherent arguments as to how the law should apply and apply the law studied to complex factual situations.
  • undertake critical analysis of statutory provisions and judicial interpretations.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • communicate and discuss complex ideas and arguments.
  • deploy analytical skills in relation to complex situations.
  • exercise time management skills and conduct research.

Syllabus

The following is an indicative list of subject areas which are to be covered during the module; however, there may be changes to this list both in terms of outline and content depending on case law developments and current affairs: 1. An introduction to the law of evidence. 2. Relevance and admissibility. 3. Burden and Standard of Proof. 4. The privilege against self-incrimination and the right to silence. 5. Illegal or unfairly obtained evidence. 6. Confessions. 7. Hearsay. 8. Evidence of the Defendant’s Bad Character. 9. Sexual history evidence.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

You will be taught by means of a weekly two-hour seminar. The seminars will commence with a brief synthesis of some of the critical issues within the topic under consideration, after which significant emphasis is placed on interactive learning. This may take the form of small group discussion, structured class debates, and guided open forum discussion. You are provided with module materials via blackboard. A detailed document is distributed for each seminar, containing a brief outline of the issues to be covered in the session, a reading list, and a set of discussion questions. You are expected to have read all of the advance readings, and prepared all of the set tasks/questions, for each class. You will also be provided with an opportunity to receive feedback on a formative problem question. Learning activities include: • Directed Reading (as per distributed reading lists). • Preparing and writing formative exam questions and self-reflection on that process. • Preparation and delivery of oral presentations. • Class discussion (including small group work).

TypeHours
Follow-up work10
Revision50
Seminar20
Completion of assessment task5
Preparation for scheduled sessions60
Wider reading or practice5
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Colin Tapper (2010). Cross and Tapper on Evidence. 

Paul Roberts & Adrian Zuckerman (2010). Criminal Evidence. 

Andrew Choo (2012). Evidence. 

Ian Dennis (2013). The Law of Evidence. 

Adrian Keane and Paul McKeown (2014). The Modern Law of Evidence. 

Roderick Munday (2013). Evidence. 

Assessment

Formative

Exam question

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (2 hours) 100%

Repeat

MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (2 hours) 100%

Referral

MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (2 hours) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Costs

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:

Textbooks

Recommended texts for this module will be available in limited supply in the University Library and you may wish to purchase an evidence statute book (approximately £15) and the core/recommended text as appropriate (approximately £35).

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 www.calendar.soton.ac.uk.

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