UCL FACULTY OF LAWS

LLM Programme

The taught modules offered on the LLM programme vary from year to year. Please check the full list of taught modules list for details of modules running in specific academic years. We make every effort to ensure that every module will be offered, but modules are subject to change and cancellation. You are therefore advised to check this site regularly for further updates throughout the year preceding entry to the LLM programme.


JUDGES, COURTS AND JUDICIAL DECISION-MAKING (LAWSG132)
Credit value: 30 credits (12 ECTS)
Module Convenor:
Professor Cheryl Thomas
Other Teachers:
Sir Anthony Hooper
Judicial and Other Expert Guest Speakers
Content

Summary:

The UCL Laws Faculty is the only law faculty in the UK to offer LLM modules in judicial studies, and this is the only 30-credit module available. This innovative module explores the crucial role judges and courts play in the modern state, and it provides students with a unique opportunity to understand what it is like to be a judge, how judges make decisions, what skills they require and what pressures and controversies they face. The module examines judicial decision-making from an empirical perspective – what do we know about how judges actually make decisions, and how can this be studied? It is an active participatory module, where students gain first hand experience of judicial decision-making through a series of Hands-On Judicial Decision-Making Seminars. Leading judges and experts share their knowledge with students through the course's Special Judicial Guest Seminars. And the module builds to the only UK Supreme Court Moot in the country where LLM students are both the judges and the advocates in a case heard in the main chamber of the UK Supreme Court.

Syllabus:

Term 1:

  • Judicial Studies: The Cutting Edge Study of Judges & Courts
  • Judges, Decision-Making and Democracy
  • How Can We Understand How Judges Make Decisions?
  • Judging in Different Jurisdictions
  • Judging in Different Courts
  • What Makes a Good Judge? Appointments, Diversity & Democracy
  • Courts, Politics & Power: When Judges and Politicians Clash
  • Judicial Ethics

Term 2:

  • When Judges Punish: Reason & Emotion in Sentencing (2 part topic)
  • Behind the Judge: The Unseen Role of Judicial Assistants
  • Can Justice be Virtual: The Future for Courts & Judges?
  • Judging Appeals: Hearing Oral Argument (Part of UK Supreme Court Moot)
  • The Art of Judgement Writing (Part of UK Supreme Court Moot)
  • Delivering Judgments (Part of UK Supreme Court Moot & Seminar)

Background Reading (optional):

Module reading lists and other module materials will be provided via online module pages, once students have made their module selections upon enrolment in September.

Delivery and enrolment
Lectures/Seminars: 20 x 2-hour seminars
Tutorials: None
Previous module enrolments: Medium – 16-60 students
Who may enrol: LLM students, other UCL Masters students
Prerequisities: None
Barred module combinations: LAWSG123 Judicial Decision-Making and Expert Evidence
Core Module for LLM specialism: Litigation and Dispute Resolution, Human Rights Law, Public Law
Assessment
Final Assessment: 6,000 word coursework essay
Practice Assessment: Two practice essays – one in Term 1 and one in Term 2 – on which students receive detailed feedback and indicative grades. These two essays form part of the Final Essay, which accounts for 100% of the grade in the module. So under this system students have written and received feedback and indicative grades on 4,000 words of the Final Essay (6,000 words) well in advance of having to submit the Final Essay.
Other Information

This module utilises 3 main teaching methods:

  1. Seminars with Module Convenor
  2. Special Judicial Guest Seminars
  3. Hands-On Judicial Decision-Making Seminars

Teaching Approach: This module requires active participation by all students in seminars. Students are assigned a series of key questions related to the assigned readings for each seminar and must come prepared to present answers as part of the seminar discussion.

Grading Approach: A Final Essay counts for 100% of the grade. However, under the Portfolio Essay approach most of this essay is written in stages during Terms 1 and 2. This means all students will have written and received feedback from the course convenor on a large part of the Final Essay by the time the Final Essay is due.

There is a special UK Supreme Court Moot at the end of Term in the UK Supreme Court itself, in which all LLM students serve either as UK Supreme Court Justices questioning advocates or as advocates/legal teams in an oral hearing of a UK Supreme Court case.

The Legal Teams will:

  1. Prepare skeleton arguments for the Court
  2. Present their case in an Oral Hearing in the UK Supreme Court
  3. Answer the court’s questions in the Oral Hearing

The Justices will:

  1. Question legal teams in the oral hearing
  2. Draft judgments of the court
  3. Deliver judgments in open court
Prizes:

There is a UCL Judicial Placement Award in this module in which award holders are able to shadow a judge in a range of different courts during Term 3. This is only available to students fully enrolled in LAWSG132.

This page was last updated on 21 August, 2014

APPLICATION NOTICES

The application process for the 2015-16 academic session is now open.

Please note, for the 2015-16 intake, we are not accepting the TOEFL test. If you have an English condition to meet, you must take one of the alternative tests listed here instead.