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The University of Southampton

PRES0014 Academic Reading (Pre-sessional LLM)

Module Overview

This module is non-credit bearing and forms part of the Pre-sessional LLM Programme in which you study academic speaking, academic listening, academic reading and academic writing to prepare you for postgraduate legal studies. You also develop your independent learning skills through Independent Study sessions, and learn about online resources for law, study skills and language development. The module focuses closely on the type of reading that you will need to do on your LLM programme and includes learning how to read and summarise cases effectively; developing your reading skills (e.g. critical thinking, predicting, skimming, scanning) through work on texts based on cases, statutes and non-binding sources; improving your understanding of complex legal sentences and of key legal terms. The module also involves reading, completing, and critically evaluating online learning materials, some specifically related to law, others to language skills on which you need to focus. The reading module is taught in conjunction with the writing module as these skills often overlap; for example, the ability to read critically is also an important skill for effective academic legal writing. As a result, you will be expected to practise a range of skills in the same class. The reading module follows the University of Southampton Pre-sessional LLM Programme Reading and Writing syllabus.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • Use appropriate reading strategies for your purposes
  • Efficiently identify appropriate sources for LLM assignments
  • Employ critical reading skills and recognise the implications of legal principles in a wider context
  • Understand the features of both general academic and legal documents at whole text and paragraph level
  • Understand general academic English writing structures and vocabulary at sentence and paragraph level and the particular features of written legal English


A. FINDING INFORMATION IN A TEXT 1. Reading for gist; identifying general information in a text – skimming techniques. 2. Locating specific information –scanning techniques. 3. Distinguishing between main ideas, subsidiary ideas and supporting information/examples. 4. Reading intensively for detailed understanding and implied information, documents such as cases, statutes, treaties, contracts and journal papers. 5. Understanding the structure and format of legal documents as well as general academic texts, at whole text and paragraph level. B. CRITICAL READING 1. Identifying reliable/unreliable sources. 2. Identifying writer, intended audience and purpose. 3. Recognising bias and vested interest. 4. Making judgements about central claims of text and context for text including understanding the roles of contributors to court proceedings and the status of different courts. 5. Evaluating argument presented (reasoning, evidence and conclusions) taking into account the implications of legal principles. C. UNDERSTANDING STRUCTURES AND VOCABULARY AT SENTENCE AND PARAGRAPH LEVEL IN BOTH LEGAL DOCUMENTS AND GENERAL ACADEMIC ENGLISH WRITING 1. Process sentences with complex noun phrases, clauses and clause markers. 2. Understanding of discourse markers at paragraph and text level. 3. Knowledge of the Academic Word List and specific legal vocabulary. 4. Ability to work out the meaning of unknown vocabulary. 5. Recognising synonyms used in a text. 6. Distinguishing between nuances of meaning (i.e. precise understanding). 7. Understanding meaning referred to by pronouns and other reference phrases in specific contexts. D. USING ACADEMIC READING TEXTS FOR ASSIGNMENTS 1. Recognising and recording source details. 2. Using notes to record information from texts, including quotations, focussing in particular on summarising legal cases. 3. Completing summaries, including case summaries following a specified format. 4. Recognising acceptable/ non-acceptable paraphrase from a text.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

You will experience a wide variety of teaching and learning methods including: full class teaching; individual, pair and group work in class; set tasks to be completed outside class; on-line tasks; self-directed independent study and tutorials.

Independent Study6
Total study time14

Resources & Reading list

E Finch and S Fafinski (2013). Legal Skills. 

D Burnapp (2009). Getting Ahead as an International Student. 

H Reinders, N Moore and M Lewis (2008). The International Student Handbook (Palgrave Study Skills Series). 

University of Nottingham AWL highlighter [online]..

Krois-Lindner & Translegal (2006). International Legal English: A course for classroom or self-study use. 

K Pakenham, J McEntire and J Williams (2013). Making Connections. 

S Cottrell (2011). Critical Thinking Skills: Developing Effective Analysis and Argument. 

UEfAP website (Andy Gillet) [online]..

University of Portsmouth [online]..





MethodPercentage contribution
Summary 100%
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