A level Law in London
at Ashbourne A level College

Introduction

One of the great things about studying Law at Ashbourne is that criminal law is the specialist study chosen, which students find both challenging and fascinating. The principles of criminal law also allow for engaging classroom discussion and deep engagement with the sophisticated nuances of the law. An additional reason behind the choice of specification is that Unit law allows for deep philosophical consideration of the question ‘For what, and for who, is the law for/” This encourages students to think about the connections and differences between law and justice and law and morality. It also asks how the law reconciles conflicting interests.

Classes have an exam focus so that students are well practiced in answering past paper questions. Students are expected to keep up to date with recent legal developments and use resources such as the Ministry of Justice website, media reports and law reports in Thursday’s edition of ‘The Times,’ to do so. The aim is to apply legal principles to real life. For example, students are asked to find the relevant legal principles in new case law. Extensive video resources are used to make developments in European law more accessible. Students also enjoy visits to the county and criminal courts, including the Old Bailey and Supreme Court.

A Level Reforms

The specification was amended in 2014 and is not one of the main designated subjects. It is unlikely to be reformed until 2018 and so the current A is good for students completing their A levels in June 2018, before the new specification will be introduced.

Why study Law?

A level law offers students the opportunity to become familiar with all aspects of the English legal system including the civil and criminal courts, the appeals process, the higher courts, rights under arrest and detention and the role of barristers and solicitors and advice agencies. Students get an insight into the whole legal system, are encouraged to be aware of the changing nature of law and become better informed about their legal rights. Even if students choose not to study law at university, they will become a better-informed citizens and gain analytical skills that will help in a wide range of further studies or career choices

Which syllabus do we follow?

We follow the AQA specification for Law

How many units are there?

There are four units in total: two at AS and two at A2

What is each unit about?

Unit 1Unit 2Unit 3Unit 4
Law Making and the Legal System

Section A Law Making
 
Parliamentary Law Making: Outline of influences on Parliament: role of the Law Commission; political, media and pressure group influences; Green and White consultative papers.Formal UK legislative process: roles of the House of Commons, House of Lords, and the Crown; the types of Bill; stages in the process. Doctrine of Parliamentary supremacy and limitations on it: effect of membership of the European Union; effect of Human Rights Act 1998. Advantages and disadvantages of the influences on Parliament and of Parliamentary law making.

Delegated Legislation: Statutory Instruments; Orders in Council; By-laws (Local Authority and other bodies). Reasons for delegating powers. Parliamentary and judicial controls on delegated legislation. Advantages and disadvantages of delegated legislation.

Statutory Interpretation: Common law approaches to interpretation: literal, golden and mischief rules; purposive approach. Aids to interpretation: rules of language; internal and external aids. Advantages and disadvantages of the different approaches and aids to statutory interpretation. Judicial Precedent

The Doctrine of Precedent: the hierarchy of the courts; stare decisis, ratio decidendi and obiter dicta; law reporting. The operation of the doctrine: following, overruling, distinguishing and disapproving. Advantages and disadvantages of the doctrine and operation of precedent.

Section B The Legal System
 
The Civil Courts and other forms of dispute resolution: Outline of civil courts and appeal system. Other forms of civil dispute resolution: tribunals, arbitration, mediation, conciliation and negotiation. Advantages and disadvantages of the civil courts and other forms of dispute resolution, including comparisons with each other.

The Criminal Courts and lay people: Outline of criminal courts and appeal system, including classification of offences. Lay magistrates: qualification, selection and appointment; composition of bench; training; role and powers. Jurors: qualification and selection; role. The advantages and disadvantages of using lay people in the criminal courts.

The Legal Profession and other sources of advice, and funding: Barristers, solicitors and legal executives: qualification, diversity, training and work of each group. Other sources of legal advice. Outline of private funding: own resources, insurance and conditional fees. Outline of state funding: Community Legal Service and Criminal Defence Service. Simple evaluation of the legal profession, of other sources of advice and of funding.

The Judiciary: Judges: qualification; selection and appointment; composition of the bench; role and work; training; dismissal. The independence of the judiciary: security of tenure, immunity from suit; independence from the Executive; the separation of powers. Simple evaluation of the judiciary.

The Concept of Liability

Candidates will study either Sections A and B or Sections A and C.

Ashbourne students overwhelming elect to study criminal law and then chose between Tort Liability in Negligence (Section B) and Contract Law (Section C)

Section A: Introduction to Criminal Liability
 
Underlying principles of Criminal Liability: Actus reus: voluntary acts and omissions; causation. Mens rea: intention and subjective recklessness; transferred malice; coincidence of actus reus and mens rea. Concepts of actus reus and mens rea in the context of non-fatal offences. Common assault: assault and battery. Offences Against the Person Act 1861: actual bodily harm; wounding and grievous bodily harm; wounding and grievous bodily harm with intent. Strict liability, including areas of application, and reasons for its imposition.

The Courts: Procedure and Sentencing: Outline of Criminal Courts: Magistrates and Crown. Classification of offences: summary; indictable (triable either way and indictable only) – explored in the context of non-fatal offences. Outline procedure to trial: bail, plea and sending for trial. Outline of burden and standard of proof.

Sentencing: outline of aims of sentencing; outline of sentences available for adult offenders; outline of aggravating and mitigating factors in sentencing.

Section B Introduction to Tort Liability in Negligence:
 
Liability in negligence for physical injury to people and damage to property. Duty of care: neighbour principle; Caparo three-part test. Breach of duty: concept of the reasonable man; risk factors, including characteristics of the defendant and claimant, magnitude of risk, practicality of precautions, social utility of the risk. Damage: factual causation and legal causation (remoteness of damage).

The Courts: Procedure and Damages: Outline of Civil Courts: County Court, High Court. Outline procedure to Trial: claim form; opportunities for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR); case management; three tracks. Outline of burden and standard of proof, including res ipsa loquitur.

Outline of compensatory damages: compensation for personal injuries and property; mitigation of loss; general and special; pecuniary and non-pecuniary; lump sums and structured settlements.

Section C Introduction to Contract
 

Formation of Contract: Offer: distinction between offer and invitation to treat; communication and duration of offer; counter-offer; rejection and revocation of offer.

Acceptance: method and communication of acceptance; postal rules. Intention to create legal relations: commercial agreements; social and domestic arrangements. Consideration: nature of consideration; past consideration.

Breach of Contract: Actual breach; anticipatory breach.

The Courts: Procedure and Damages: Outline of Civil Courts: County Court, High Court. Outline procedure to Trial: claim form; opportunities for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR); case management, three tracks.

Outline of burden and standard of proof. Outline of compensatory damages; causation and remoteness of damage; mitigation of loss.

Criminal Law (Offences against the Person) or Contract Law

Candidates will study either Section A or Section B

Section A Criminal Law (Fatal and non-fatal offences against the person)

Murder Actus Reus (including causation), Mens Rea (malice aforethought).

Voluntary manslaughter: Defences of loss of control and diminished responsibility.
Involuntary manslaughter, Gross negligence manslaughter, unlawful act manslaughter.

Non-fatal offences against the person: Assault, battery, actual bodily harm, wounding and grievous bodily harm, wounding and grievous bodily harm with intent.

Defences: Insanity, automatism, intoxication, consent, self-defence/prevention of crime

Evaluation: Critical evaluation of all of the above (with the exception of involuntary manslaughter), including consideration of proposals for reform.

OR Section B Contract Law
 
Formation: Offer, acceptance, consideration (including privity of contract), intention to create legal relations.

Contract terms: Express and implied terms, including terms implied by the Sale of Goods Act 1979, as amended, as to description (s13), satisfactory quality (s14(2)) and fitness for purpose (s14(3)), and by the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 as to description (s3), satisfactory quality and fitness for purpose (s4), reasonable care and skill (s13), and performance within a reasonable time (s14). Conditions, warranties and innominate terms. Common law and statutory approaches to, and control of, exclusion and limitation clauses.

Vitiating factors: Misrepresentation.

Discharge of contract: Performance, frustration, breach.

Remedies: Damages and equitable remedies, the right to reject in contracts for the sale and for the supply of goods and, in consumer contracts, to rescind or require repair, replacement or reduction in price.

Evaluation: Critical evaluation of all of the above (with the exception of discharge of contract), including consideration of proposals for reform.

Criminal Law (Offences against Property) or Tort, and Concepts of Law
 
Candidates will study either Sections A and C or Sections B and C.
Section A Criminal Law (Offences against Property)
 
Theft and Robbery: Actus reus (appropriation, property, belonging to another). Mens rea (dishonesty, intention permanently to deprive) (s1 Theft Act 1968). Theft with use or threat of use of force (s8 Theft Act 1968).

Burglary: Elements of s9(1)(a) and s9(1)(b) Theft Act 1968, burglary in dwellings and other buildings.

Blackmail: Unwarranted demand with menaces (s21 Theft Act 1968).

Fraud: Fraud by false representation (s2 Fraud Act 2006) and obtaining services dishonestly (s11 Fraud Act 2006). Making off without payment (s3 Theft Act 1978).

Criminal Damage: Basic (s1(1), Criminal Damage Act 1971) and aggravated (s1(2), Criminal Damage Act 1971) and by fire (arson s1(3), Criminal Damage Act 1971).

Defences: Intoxication, duress, duress of circumstances, self-defence/ prevention of crime.

OR Section B Law of Tort
 

Negligence: Issues of duty, breach and damage with respect to personal injury, damage to property, product liability, medical care, pure economic loss, negligent misstatement, psychiatric harm.

Occupiers’ Liability: Liability in respect of visitors and trespassers.

Nuisance and escape of dangerous things: Elements of public and private nuisance, and of the tort in Rylands v Fletcher.

Vicarious Liability: Liability of the employer for torts committed by employees in the course of employment.

Defences: Contributory negligence, consent. Specific defences to nuisance and Rylands v Fletcher.

Remedies: Damages. Injunctions.
PLUS Section C Concepts of Law
 
In the examination, candidates will be required to answer one essay question from a choice of three.

Candidates will be expected to relate their knowledge of legal processes, institutions and substantive law, gained in studying any of the modules, to the concepts which follow, where possible with reference to contemporary issues.

Law and Morals: The distinction between law and morals; the diversity of moral views in a pluralist society; the relationship between law and morals and its importance. The legal enforcement of moral values.

Law and Justice: The meaning of ‘justice’, theories of justice. The extent to which substantive legal rules, legal institutions and processes achieve justice or create barriers to justice.

Judicial Creativity: The extent to which the judges are able to display creativity in the operation of the system of judicial precedent and in statutory interpretation. Consideration of the balance between the roles of Parliament and the judiciary.

Fault: The meaning and importance of fault in civil and/or criminal law.

Balancing conflicting interests: Identification of the different interests of parties to disputes. Public interests against private interests, the subordination of individual rights to community interests.

How is this unit examined?

Unit 1Unit 2Unit 3Unit 4
Unit 1 – LAW01
AS Law Examinations 1161
Law Making and the Legal System
50% of AS, 25% of A-level
Externally assessed examination, 1 hour 30 minutes
96 marks
Candidates answer questions on three topics
Unit 2 – LAW02
The Concept of Liability
50% of AS, 25% of A-level
Externally assessed examination, 1 hour 30 minutes
94 Marks
Candidates answer questions on two scenarios.
Unit 3 – LAW03
A2 Law Examinations 2161
Criminal Law (Offences against the person)
25% of A-level
Externally assessed examination, 1 hour 30 minutes
80 marks
Candidates answer three questions on one scenario
Unit 4 – LAW04
Criminal Law (Offences against property) and Concepts of Law
25% of A-level
Externally assessed examination, 2 Hours
85 Marks
Candidates answer two questions on one scenario and one essay question

How is the course structured?

Units 1 & 2 are taught simultaneously throughout the year, while unit 3 & 4 are taught one after another

When do the exams take place?

AS students sit their examination in June

Which Ashbourne teachers teach this course?

Dennis Fulcher: Head of Faculty (Multi Media and Social Sciences)

BSc Hons (Kingston) MA (London) PGCE (Greenwich) Media and Social Sciences (HoD), Psychology, Sociology, Film, Politics and Law

Dennis Fulcher is the College’s polymath and Head of Faculty. Originally a graduate in Sociology, Dennis has also completed a Masters in Government and Political Studies, a PGCE and a Diploma in Print Journalism. Dennis has huge experience of his subject and an excellent track record of getting top grades. Dennis seeks yearly anonymised feedback from his students and consistently scores very highly in the student ratings of his teaching and their learning experiences. Dennis provides stimulating and engaging teaching materials in a variety of formats and uses innovative learning exercises to insist that the students contribute significantly to their own learning and development throughout the course

Beyond A Level for Law Students

The subject is suited to a would-be lawyer, although it must be stressed that it is not necessary to study the subject at A Level in order to read it at university. The intellectual discipline, problem-solving and essay-writing skills developed by this A Level are invaluable to anyone interested in taking a Humanities degree at university. Suitable degrees include Politics, History, International Relations, Finance and Business.

All those who wish to take a degree in law should do this, at the very minimum, as an additional AS, it would let them know if they really wish to pursue this subject further as many who pursue the law degree change their minds mid -degree due to not understanding what a law degree is. At the very least, A-level law builds a strong foundation for the degree itself.

Textbooks

A2 Level Law

Title – AQA Law A2 second edition
Author – Nelson thornes

ISBN – 978-1-4085-1971-4
Web link