LW7068 - Opinion Writing

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What will I learn on this module?

This is a core module on the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) which is delivered across the Bar Professional Training portfolio of programmes at Northumbria University. It is intended to reflect the practising barrister’s workload that requires the provision of written advice for professional clients.

The module aims to facilitate your understanding of the techniques and skills required for writing opinions and to demonstrate competencies and abilities to write opinions without supervision. The module is structured to introduce you gradually to increasingly complex factual and legal cases, developing your skills of fact management, critical thinking and analysis. Issues of professional conduct will be dealt with throughout the module.

Successful completion of the module will equip you with the skills that are necessary to write opinions that would be considered acceptable to a pupil supervisor during pupillage.

How will I learn on this module?

The module is delivered by way of two large group sessions and small group sessions and directed learning. You will be expected to engage in some independent learning to consolidate your learning and prepare for group sessions, including investigation of factual and legal issues and providing practical legal advice.

Prior to the small group sessions, students will be expected to work on realistic case scenarios and prepare opinions, which are either discussed in class or marked individually by the tutor. The small group sessions will expand on the material covered in the large group sessions. Following the use of realistic case scenarios, the module tutor will upload to the eLP an Answer Guide for each opinion setting, out a suggested structure and suggestions as to content, as well as some general pointers as to common errors.

The module is assessed by way of an unseen written assessment where students complete an unseen opinion under exam conditions.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

The University is well placed to support you in learning and research with an excellent library and teaching facilities, access to on-line legal databases and resources and appropriate software.

This module will be managed by your designated Module Tutor who will be responsible for guiding you in your engagement and learning on the module. All relevant materials and instructions will be accessible on-line through the module eLP site, maintained by your Module Tutor, and will give guidance on legal skills, assessment and provide self-study materials. You may communicate with your Module Tutor by email or telephone and are encouraged to make contact if you encounter any difficulties relating to any aspect of the module.

Academic support is also available through feedback in the small group sessions. You will have the opportunity to formally sit a mock exam, and feedback on the mock exam will be given in a large group session. At a programme level you will be supported by the Programme Leader and a PersonalTutor who will provide pastoral support throughout the module and the programme as a whole.

The Programme Administration and Student Progress teams are responsible for the non-academic administration of the module; they will contact you throughout the duration of your module with details about the centralised assessment, and other issues.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
• Developed knowledge and understanding of the appropriate laws, procedures and ethical considerations to advise professional and lay clients in written form, in a way that addresses their needs and objectives and which serves to advance their best interests.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
• demonstrated the ability to give sound, practical written advice on matters raised in legal instructions and advise on any practical steps to be taken, including further inquiries or investigations necessary.

• demonstrated the capacity to provide a professional and responsible approach to clients who place trust in the profession on the basis that the service provided will be of benefit

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):

• displayed a professional and responsible approach to the course, staff and other students, and to observe the Code of Practice in order to prevent exploitation of clients and preserve the integrity of the profession, maintaining the public’s trust and ensuring continuance of the provision of service

• acted in a fashion which demonstrates awareness of diversity, and is non-discriminatory

How will I be assessed?

The module will be assessed by one formal time-constrained examination (open book materials may be used) requiring the drafting an opinion.

Formative assessments will consist of Five opinions covering a broad range of scenarios will be undertaken by students as formative exercises. Each exercise will require the application of legal research and legal knowledge.
Students will also undertake a mock assessment exercise.





Module abstract

It is essential for the aspiring barrister to acquire the skills needed to identify and apply legal issues to sets of facts in order to provide legal advice that is not only accurate, but clear and practical. The Opinion Writing module allows students to learn and develop these skills in a collaborative and innovative learning environment, with guidance from experienced academic and practitioner tutors. Upon successful completion of the module, the student barrister will have the analytical and communicative skills needed to analyse complex facts and translate their legal knowledge into the best quality written legal advice. This will equip them with an important component of the barrister’s skill set, as well as provide them with a transferrable attribute that they can bring to bear in order to succeed in the many career pathways requiring an ability to understand and apply the law.

Course info

Credits 12

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 1 year full-time
1 other options available

Department Northumbria Law School

Location Law and NBS Building, City Campus East

City Newcastle

Start September 2019

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