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Law A Level at Truro and Penwith College

Course description

Studying Law will encourage you to engage more fully and critically with current affairs and to develop relevant skills in research, communication, analysis and ICT. In particular, there will be opportunities to hone your debating skills as well as a chance to experience the practical aspects of advocacy. Law is a natural partner to the study of English Language and Literature and other Modern Foreign Languages at A Level but the syllabus content also connects well with other subjects such as Politics, Psychology and Sociology.

You will start off by examining how the English Legal System works. This will give you an understanding of how our Law has developed over the centuries to provide us with different sources of Law, how these Laws are made and applied and by whom. We will also consider why it is necessary to keep the Law up to date to accommodate the changing views of our society and how this can be effected. 

During the course of the year, you will be offered trips to visit the Westminster Parliament and the Supreme Court of Justice as well as a trip to Europe to see first-hand the institutions which make EU Law for us. On a more local level, at the end of the first year, all students will benefit from opportunities to attend the Crown Court to witness the criminal process in action.  

Later, in the second year, your focus will be on Criminal Law and Justice. You will examine the different forms of homicide and will consider the circumstances which can lead to a charge of, for example, Actual Bodily Harm or Grievous Bodily Harm. At the same time, we will look at a range of different defences and evaluate the effect of successfully raising a particular defence on the charge. Alongside this, you will learn about the role of the police during the different stages of the criminal investigation and will gain an appreciation of the various sentences which may be imposed on a convicted defendant.  

Course content

Year 1 Study

Unit one: Understanding Legal Structures and Processes.

As well as introducing you to the historical development of Common Law and Equity and key European institutions, you will assess the nature of the relationship between Law and Morality through consideration of important legal theories and fundamental legal arguments such as, for example, the euthanasia debate. At the same time, you will gain an understanding of the criminal court system and criminal process, including bail and the role of the CPS and juries. Similarly, the civil court system and civil process will be studied and the financial implications of court action reviewed, in particular in the light of a diminishing legal aid budget. The topical issue of Human Rights will form a backdrop to this unit, as will discussion of the important constitutional ideals of the Rule of Law which require governments to rule in accordance with the Law. 

Unit two: Understanding Legal Reasoning, Personnel and Methods.

This unit focuses primarily on the different sources of Law. You will study how primary and secondary legislation, such as Acts of Parliament and bye-laws, are made and will consider the role of judge-made law and policy along with the impact of different sources of EU law on the English legal system. You will learn the different rules of statutory interpretation which the judges can use to interpret legislation and will understand how different rules can lead to different outcomes! The importance of the work of the Law Commission and other law reform agencies such as pressure groups on promoting changes in the law will also be considered.  The career structure of legal professionals such as judges, lay magistrates, barristers, solicitors, legal executives and para-legals will also be examined. 

Year 2 Study

Unit three: Understanding Substantive Law: Option 2, Criminal Law and Justice

The focus here will be on understanding the practical elements of substantive Criminal Law.  Therefore, you will learn to distinguish between the different forms of homicide such as murder, voluntary and involuntary manslaughter and to be able to correctly identify the relevant offence from a range of 5 non-fatal offences against the person. When assessing criminal liability, you will also take into account factors such as diminished responsibility, loss of control, intoxication, self-defence, insanity, automatism, duress, necessity and consent and evaluate the potential impact of such a defence. The role of the police will also be reviewed, specifically during stop and search, arrest, detention and interrogation. 

Unit four:  Understanding Law in Context: Option 2, Criminal Law and Justice

Taking into account human rights issues, this unit focuses on understanding and evaluating key principles of Criminal Law, such as the presumption of innocence which normally demands that a defendant has both committed the unlawful act (actus reus) and that he/she has the relevant guilty mind (mens rea) for that particular offence. Students will, however, appreciate how, as a matter of public policy, strict liability offences depart from this presumption. The effectiveness of the defences noted above (unit 3) will be further reviewed and evaluated in depth. Similarly, the issue of bail (unit 2) and the role of the CPS (unit 2) will be analysed and evaluated in detail. To complete the A2 syllabus, we address the important topic of sentencing by looking at the aims of the courts when sentencing, as well as the extensive range of sentences available to them. When doing this, you will consider both adult and young offenders and analyse how the criminal justice system at this juncture deals with both groups differently. Therefore you will complete your study of A Level Law with an evaluation of punishment, the ultimate aim of criminal justice. 

Entry requirements

The basic requirement to study at A Level is five GCSE passes at grade C. However, as a high standard of literacy and good communication skills are key to success in Law, we require a minimum of a B grade in English Language.  

Assessment

AS Qualification: two examinations of 1.5 hours duration, each worth 50% of the marks.   

Paper 1 - Understanding Legal Values, Structures and Processes and Paper 2 – Understanding Legal Reasoning, Personnel and Methods.

A2 Qualification: two examinations of 1.5 hours and 2.5 hours duration, the former worth 40% of the marks and the latter worth 60% of the marks.

Paper 3 – Understanding Substantive Law: Criminal Law and Justice and Paper 4 – Understanding Law in Context: Criminal Law and Justice

N.B. This qualification is currently still assessed on a modular basis.  Therefore you will sit Paper 1 and Paper 2 at the end of Year 1 and this will comprise the AS qualification. Paper 3 and Paper 4 will be sat at the end of Year 2 and will complete the full A Level qualification.  At present the AS qualification represents 50% of the overall A Level qualification.

Your achievement in this subject will be dependent on adopting a positive work ethic based upon excellent attendance, punctuality and effort. You will learn in a friendly atmosphere, using a variety of assessment methods.

  • You will be assessed regularly at the end of a topic. The work will either be completed at home or in class, under timed conditions, to develop examination technique as well as understanding. You will be given detailed feedback on your progress in relation to each piece of work.
  • You will undertake mock examinations in each paper in advance of your final exams.
  • You will review your progress regularly with your tutor in 1:1 sessions during the course.

Future opportunities

A qualification in Law is highly valued by many universities and employers, in particular because of the critical thinking and analytical skills which studying the subject promotes. As well as the obvious career choice of joining the legal profession as a barrister, solicitor, legal executive or para-legal, Law graduates frequently find themselves working in the commercial sector, business and finance, social welfare, human resources management and with charities. A check of the CV of eminent politicians also highlights that many lawyers carve out a career in politics for themselves!

Further information

It is very important for students to take a wider interest in current affairs as it helps to make their course of study relevant. Therefore it is crucial to read widely and to follow the news on a regular basis. Any work experience within a legal context, e.g. law firm, law courts, CAB etc, will be immensely valuable, both to aid understanding and to refer to in a university application. A wide variety of electronic resource material is available in addition to a well-stocked Learning Centre.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Truro and Penwith College directly.

Last updated date: 15 June 2016

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