LW7128 - Comparative Law of Evidence

What will I learn on this module?

This module takes a cross-jurisdictional look at evidence in legal settings. It articulates the decision-making process in various criminal justice systems by exploring the respective normative framework for information management. Different models of proof in domestic (England and Wales) and international criminal justice systems (common law) will be reduced to their central tenets and principles of evidence and proof. Particular emphasis will be laid on the area of law at the intersection of evidence and proof. We will investigate the way in which the criminal process employs expert witnesses and critically analyse the various issues arising from the way legal officials, factfinders and scientists/forensic practitioners communicate with each other. On completion of this module, students should be able to:
• analyse and critically discuss principles of evidence law
• demonstrate knowledge and understanding of contemporary debates in theoretical and empirical literature about the law of evidence
• have an independent ability to further their knowledge about, and research into, the issues arising from the topics and themes and to write about these issues in a structured and academic way.

Module topics outline

1. Introduction. What is structural analysis?
2. Criminal Trial as a decision-making process
• Principles of evidence
• Truth
• Justice
3. Features of Evidence
• Relevance
• Credibility
• Probative force
4. Standard of Proof
• Defining ‘reasonable’
• The algorithm or the story?
5. Generating and presenting evidence
• Information management
• Illegally obtained evidence
6. Expert witness testimony
• The realm of law
• The realm of science
7. The problem of validity
• Opinion Rule
• What is “helpful”?
• Deference and epistemic dependence
8. Unchallenged evidence.
• Accepting expert evidence
• Departing from expert evidence
• Unchallenged expert evidence
9. DNA
• Intelligence Databases
• Population Databases
• Logical fallacies
10. Fingerprints and Identification
11. Law & Science
• Scientific findings
• Legal decisions
12. The future of Evidence and Proof
• AI & Deep learning
• AI as source of evidence

How will I learn on this module?

The module will run across Semester Two and you will be learning through lectures and workshops, with tutor-guided and student-independent learning. The tutors will use case-law, legislation and academic writing to give context to core principles. You will then be learning through a series of different delivery styles which will include traditional taught lectures to cover theoretical / procedural aspects of the curriculum, supplemented with workshop sessions where you will develop into an active learner, putting concepts into context by making connections between theory and practice. Additional learning strategies utilised throughout the module include practical and online exercises. There will be directed independent learning to go beyond the lecture content. The module eLearning Portal (eLP) site contains a module handbook outlining the content of the module. Lecture slides, digital lecture recordings and workshop exercises will also be made available on the eLP site. Formative feedback will be provided on knowledge and understanding of module content as well as a number of opportunities to engage with the method of assessment used in the module.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Students will be supported through active participation and discussion during classroom sessions. This module will be designed and 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 including notes for lectures and workshops will be accessible on-line through Blackboard Ultra. The site is maintained by your Module Tutor, who will also provide guidance on any other issues that they consider relevant to your studies. All lecture and workshop material will be available on Blackboard Ultra, supplemented with guidance on further reading relevant to the subjects. Assessment feedback will also be provided to allow students to understand how they performed and how they can build on this performance in subsequent assessments within the programme.

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:
By the end of the module you should be able to:
• Critically evaluate the law of evidence and proof in common law jurisdictions;
• Critique and make reasoned judgments on the decision-making process in the criminal process is structured.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
By the end of the module you should be able to:
• Communicate your critical evaluation of the law of evidence and proof accurately.

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

By the end of the module you should have developed the ability to:
• Evaluate different approaches to criminal evidence from both a procedural and cultural perspective and provide reasoned arguments as to how forensic science and criminal justice can work together.

• Enhance your critical judgments of key principles of criminal evidence both in a national and global context.

How will I be assessed?

Formative assessment
There will be practical exercises during workshops, covering different skills in the module, giving students opportunity to practice ahead of the final presentation and essay.

Summative assessment
The module will be assessed by way of 3000 words essay on evidence and proof.

Assessment Criteria and Grade-Related Criteria will be made available to you to support you in completing assessments. Grade-Related Descriptors are descriptions of the level of skills, knowledge and/or attributes that you need to demonstrate in order achieve a certain grade or mark in an assessment, providing a mechanism by which the quality of an assessment can be measured and placed within the overall set of marks.

Pre-requisite(s)

NA

Co-requisite(s)

NA

Module abstract

This module takes a cross-jurisdictional look at evidence in legal settings. It articulates the decision-making process in various criminal justice systems by exploring the respective normative framework for information management. Different models of proof in domestic (England and Wales) and international criminal justice systems (common law) will be reduced to their central tenets and principles of evidence and proof. Particular emphasis will be laid on the area of law at the intersection of evidence and proof. We will investigate the way in which the criminal process employs expert witnesses and critically analyse the various issues arising from the way legal officials, fact-finders and scientists/forensic practitioners communicate with each other.

Course info

Credits 20

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 1 year Full Time

Department Northumbria Law School

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2022

Fee Information

Module Information

All information on this course page is accurate at the time of viewing.

Our Campus based courses starting in 2022 and 2023 will be delivered on-campus with supporting online learning content. We continue to monitor government and local authority guidance in relation to Covid-19 and we are ready and able to adjust the delivery of our education accordingly to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff.

On-campus contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with any additional restrictions, which may be imposed by the Government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors. This could potentially mean increased or fully online delivery, should such restrictions on in-person contact time be required.

 

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