CONTEMPORARY ISSUES IN LAW - 2025/6

Module code: LAW0001

Module Overview

The module examines law in a social, ethical, political, historical and international context.  Students will be introduced to the English Legal System and analyse how laws in England and Wales are implemented.  The focus will be on contemporary issues, to illustrate how academic studies relate to law in practice and the impact it has on society. It requires students to examine how public opinion, politics and the media influence lawmakers and provides students with a variety of transferable employability skills including group work, writing a diary, oral presentation and self-reflection. 

Module provider

School of Law

Module Leader

LILLYWHITE Claire (Schl of Law)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 3

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Workshop Hours: 11

Independent Learning Hours: 65

Lecture Hours: 22

Tutorial Hours: 9

Guided Learning: 21

Captured Content: 22

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

None

Module content

Module content includes:


  • An introduction to the English Legal System

  • Contemporary Issues in Human Rights

  • Contemporary Issues in Criminal Law

  • Contemporary Issues in Tort

  • Contemporary issues in Environmental Law

  • Contemporary Issues in Medical Law

  • Contemporary Issues in Family Law

  • Contemporary Issues in Company Law


Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Diary 12
Oral exam or presentation Group presentation 16
Coursework Reflection 12
Coursework 1500 word case study and analysis 60

Alternative Assessment

Individual oral presentation in the event that a student is unable to take part in the group presentation

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate that they have understood how the law relates to real life issues and they are able to apply the law to a range of problem questions (group presentation) and consider human rights issues and ethical issues. Students are also able to demonstrate effective research and critical analysis skills when writing a case study and analysis. The assessment evaluates the extent to which students have understood factors which lead to reform, how such changes are implemented and what obstacles prevent such change (presentation and case analysis).

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of :

Diary, group presentation and self-reflection

Students are split into groups of 4/5 and choose a problem question based on one of the contemporary issues discussed in Lectures 1-3. Each student must keep a diary from the first group discussion until the day of the presentation, which provides evidence of group work, individual research (including noting which statutes, journal articles and books they have considered) and transferable skills (including negotiation, debating, research and writing). 

The 20-minute group presentation takes place in Week 7. Students must allocate the work between themselves to produce a PowerPoint presentation and deliver their presentation in person before two assessors. Each member of the group must present and assessors ask questions at the end of the presentation. Students are required to reference all research they have undertaken using OSCOLA referencing. 

After the presentation, students are required to write an individual 600-word reflection on the group presentation, including personal and professional development, whether they enjoyed the work and consider any problems encountered. 

A group mark is awarded for the presentation. Individual marks are awarded for the diary and self-reflection. 

A case study and analysis

This independent assessment requires students to read a case which they have studied between weeks 4 – 10 and build upon their independent research and critical analysis skills in order to write a 1500-word case summary and analysis.  Students are able to further their understanding of OSCOLA referencing as they are required to use this in the assessment. This assessment requires students to undertake independent research and critically engage with literature from a variety of sources.

All assessments require students to utilise skills which will prepare them for future study and equips them with a variety of transferable skills.

 

Formative assessment

Prior to the assessments students will receive guidance on the assessments and feedback during lectures and tutorials. Detailed guidance is provided at various stages so as not to overload them with too much information at once.  They are introduced to the marking scheme for the presentation, provided with an exemplar diary and some basic information as to what is expected in the reflection.  

Group formative presentations provide students with the opportunity to prepare a shorter presentation which they present before the class (approximately 25 students). They are asked questions on their chosen subject and written feedback is provided to the group which includes what they have done well and how they can improve for the summative assessment.

In preparation for the 1500-word case study and analysis, students are required to submit a 600-word written case study using OSCOLA  referencing. They receive written feedback and the opportunity for further oral feedback.  General feedback is given in lectures to remind students how to correctly reference using OSCOLA and highlight common mistakes when writing the case study. 

 

Feedback

Oral feedback is provided to each group immediately following the formative presentation. Students from other groups are encouraged to provide positive feedback and also ask questions. Additional written feedback is provided to the group and this will include comments on what the group did well and how they can improve for the summative presentation. Feedback includes comments on practical presentation skills as well as legal content and referencing. A formative 600-word essay is submitted 2 weeks before the release of the summative coursework and feedback is provided a week later.  Before the formative is submitted students will attend a tutorial in which they are taken shown an exemplar case study and given an opportunity to ask questions.  In Lecture 10 they are reminded of the importance of referencing and plagiarism. 

Module aims

  • To develop an understanding of the English Legal System and how law interacts with other modules they study in the Foundation Year (politics and sociology)
  • To develop and awareness of core legal principles and facilitate their application to recent case law (understanding of law in practice)
  • To develop a clear and comprehensive understanding of the function of Parliament, Court and public opinion in shaping the law
  • To develop transferable skills in communication, teamwork, oral presentations and self-reflection

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of key legal concepts and theories through research when preparing for assessments 1 and 2 which requires students to draw on individual and collective resourcefulness to design a presentation K
002 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the function of Parliament and the Judiciary when identifying case law and statute in Assessment 1 K
003 Research and critically analyse statute case law when preparing for and taking part in tutorial discussions and the group presentation KC
004 Examine the social and political impact on the development of the law through research KT
005 Undertake independent and group research and demonstrate core legal skills in writing, evaluation, problem solving and discussion which is relevant to Assessments 1 and 2 and provides students with transferable skills in the future (employability) KCP
006 Develop oral and presentation skills when presenting as part of Assessment 1. Presenting in a group as part of the assessment encourages resilience, particularly in students who are less confident. PT
007 Engage in critical discussion of the effectiveness of the current law and identify and evaluate proposals for reform KCT
008 Develop an understanding of OSCOLA referencing which is necessary for Assessments 1 and 2 K
009 Demonstrate ability to evaluate group work by way of a written reflection which considers their professional and personal journey, identifying areas which can be improved and what transferable skills they have gained/ need to acquire KPT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to ensure that students achieve the module learning outcomes.

 

Students will begin to gain a basic understanding of the interaction between Law, Politics and Society. They may have some knowledge from ‘A’ level and BTEC studies, however, for many this will be the first time they are introduced to the subject.  Students will develop an understanding of the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary and discover the importance of checks and balances and that no one is above the law.  This introduction is significant as students need to understand that law, politics and society are equally important to each other and that the law cannot operate alone.  When we have discussed the three areas, with examples, students are introduced to a variety of contemporary issues and case law to illustrate how law, politics and society interact. 

 

All lectures and tutorials are live, although lecture recordings are available to students for revision purposes.  Students are encouraged to undertake pre-lecture reading in order to gain some knowledge of the topic which also ensures engagement and participation during the lecture.  Students are required to undertake research and prepare for tutorials which include group discussions and presentations which enhances confidence and communication, all important transferable skills.  Students are encouraged to be active participants in tutorial discussions and support each other in the group assessment tasks. Group work is an important tool in relation to employability, and enables students to disseminate information to others in a less intimidating environment and they learn from each other. It encourages them to work together as a team and provides opportunities for them to organise meetings outside of the tutorials and take charge of their learning experience, while providing essential skills including employability, resourcefulness and resilience. 

 

The workshops are active learning sessions which encourage students to develop key transferable professional skills including confidence in public speaking, providing constructive feedback to peers, listening, negotiating, organisational and time management skills. 

 

Students are encouraged to watch additional short recordings and videos to enhance their learning.

 

Within the first four weeks, there is additional support for students after tutorials where they are able to ask questions concerning the group presentation and obtain feedback on the research they have undertaken. Students undertake a formative assessment and receive written group feedback.  They can meet with tutors to ask questions and discuss any issues they may be experiencing with the group or their individual research.  Students have regular interaction with their peers and academics throughout the semester and they are encouraged to arrange group meetings in preparation for the oral presentation.  Toward the end of the semester, further small group sessions are available to students to help with preparation for the 1500-word case study and analysis.  Students who actively participate in all module activities are successful in all assessments.

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list

https://readinglists.surrey.ac.uk
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: LAW0001

Other information

At the University of Surrey School of Law we strive to create an environment where students can learn about the law and its place in the world, in an enjoyable way that reflects the changing nature of society in the 21st Century.  The School of Law prides itself in its sense of community in which students can acquire the confidence to take future professional and life challenges in their stride.

Employability:  This module provides students with working knowledge and the key tools used by lawyers in practice.  The students are introduced to group work in Week 1 and they are set a number of tasks to complete by week 2.  They must start communicating and negotiating with each other but also researching independently.  They are required to regularly meet with other group members to put together presentations and practice.  This entails organising mutually convenient dates to meet, booking study rooms in the Library and deciding on the content of the presentation, taking into account differences of opinions.  They must be adaptable and flexible and often work with students who have a variety of mental or physical issues.  This ensures that students are inclusive and the group builds a good repour which creates mutual trust and confidence and excellent working relationships in the future. 

Digital Capabilities:  While lectures are in person, students are encouraged to start watching additional materials (some videos by the module convener and others on line), in order to find out more about the topic each week.  The first assessment allows students to use their digital skills to create an engaging presentation, using pictures and video content. It is the students responsibility to arrange meetings, and they often meet on Teams or Zoom.  They  may create documents on Google Docs so that all members can see who has written what and whether they are duplicating information. 

Global and Cultural Capabilities: Students on this course discuss many contemporary issues which highlight the diversity between different cultures, religions and beliefs.  They are constantly questioning and listening to alternative opinions and laws, for example, in relation to abortion and assisted suicide.  They undertake comparative research in order to understand why the laws in each country are different and consider whether the law in England and Wales is adequate or should be reformed.  This provides an opportunity to interact, communicate and build relationships with students from different cultures and religions.  They are encouraged to share experiences and knowledge from their own backgrounds when case study topics are explored. 

Sustainability: Contemporary issues in environmental law is a popular topic.  The students examine issues in relation to air pollution and climate change  and the distinction between procedural and substantive obligations.  It includes the case of a 9 year old student in London who died of air pollution and the resulting legal issues arising from her death; and a lawsuit filed against the Government by climate campaigners for failing to take action against climate change.  They discuss and debate the importance of environmental law in practice. This module encourages students to actively engage in considerations of the interconnection between the environmental issues and statute and case law.  It provides a foundation upon which students can build their knowledge in Levels 3 (Tort Law) and 4 (Environmental Law).

Resourcefulness and resilience: The learning, teaching and assessment strategy for this module is designed to challenge and improve students. They have little or no practice of working with a group of students they have never met before and they must immediately start working together towards a group assignment.  To help them get to know each other, we have a non-law quiz which acts as an ‘ice-breaker’ which encourages them to talk and interact with each other.  While many students find the first assessment very challenging, the majority excel.  Students exhibit resourcefulness, understand potential challenges faced by other members of the group and provide empathy and support towards each other in working towards a common goal.  Many students are extremely anxious presenting before their piers however, with help and encouragement of the tutors and group members,  at the end of the assessment, all have commented that they feel a great sense of achievement having completed the task.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Criminology and Sociology with Foundation Year BSc (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Criminology with Foundation Year BSc (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Law with Criminology with Foundation Year LLB (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Law with International Relations with Foundation Year LLB (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Media and Communication with Foundation Year BSc (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Sociology with Foundation Year BSc (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Law with Foundation Year LLB (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Politics with Foundation Year BSc (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
International Relations with Foundation Year BSc (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Politics and Sociology with Foundation Year BSc (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2025/6 academic year.