FROM A FORMER LAW LECTURER
To Help You Survive Law School
Writing essay-style assignments in UK law can be quite a challenge, because it varies a lot from writing answers to problem-style questions, which many law students prefer. Problem-style questions require you to explain and apply specific sections and cases to solve the issues mentioned in the scenario. Law essays, on the other hand, ask you to present an opinion about a particular area of UK law, which can be much harder than simply finding the right cases or statute sections and applying them to the scenario. This is why many students make common basic mistakes when answering essay-style questions in law, and those mistakes lower their grades and prevent them from getting a first. The best way to avoid those mistakes is to follow a winning system of writing essay-style courseworks, which can pretty much guarantee you a first (if followed correctly). Here’s how you can do that.
Decide on Your Central Argument
The central argument is the key to writing a first class law essay. It is the main opinion you are going to present in your essay about a specific area of law, summarised in one sentence. There are two ways of how you can formulate a winning central argument. Firstly, your central argument can support one side of the argument. For example: “This essay will demonstrate that replacing the Human Rights Act 1998 with a British Bill of Rights would be beneficial for the UK’s legal system”. Alternatively, your central argument can make the reader understand that you will be arguing both sides of the debate. For example: “This essay will assess whether replacing the Human Rights Act 1998 with a British Bill of Rights would be beneficial for the UK’s legal system”.
Either way of formulating a central argument is correct. Also, even if you choose the first type of a central argument which focuses mostly on one side of the debate, you can still include in your essay arguments from the other side. But you will have to show why those arguments are not valid. It is also good practice to separate each argument into a new paragraph, so that that reader can follow your thinking pattern better. Finally, all the points and arguments you will be making throughout your essay should be either supporting or disproving the central argument. If they are not related to the central argument at all, then you shouldn’t include them in your essay, because they are most probably not relevant.
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Identify 3-4 Headings within Your Essay
Another great strategy for writing a first class essay-style assignment is to split the arguments supporting your central argument in the main body of your essay into 3 to 4 different categories. Those categories can then be given headings, so that the reader is able to better follow your reasoning. This is going to help present the essay in a more coherent and digestible way. However, you should always keep in mind not to steer away from the main argument. Each heading should clearly support or disprove the central argument. You also need to be able to back up the arguments you are making in support of the central argument with the right cases and statutes.
When it comes to writing a first class essay-style coursework in law, consistency and accuracy are key. You should ensure that the essay is correctly formatted with no grammatical mistakes. In addition, writing a UK law essay requires the use of correct terminologies and vocabulary, known as the “legalese”. This means that you should avoid informal words, abbreviations (such as “won’t”, “couldn’t”, “don’t”, etc.) etc. There should be consistency in terms of style throughout all of the headings in your essay.
Plan the Cases & Statute Sections For Each Heading
The next thing you need to make sure if you want to write first class essays in UK law is using the right cases and statute sections. In this context the word “right” means a few different things. Firstly, you should make sure that every single heading in your essay refers to at least some cases and/or statute sections. Secondly, you should include enough cases and statute sections to support your arguments, but not too many (so that it becomes impossible to actually discuss them properly). Thirdly, the cases and statute sections which you will be including in your headings should be from the area of UK law which you are writing your essay on, and they should relate to the specific issues you are discussing in the heading. You should also include in the footnotes a full and adequate citation for each case you mention. If you decide to discuss the facts of the case, you should keep this very brief - one or two short sentences are usually enough. If you mention a statute section, then make sure that it is still in place and hasn’t been revoked by a later statute. Moreover, you should also be able to write the essay with a clear understanding of the law with adequate legal analysis. This means that every point you make must always be supported with law. Objectivity is critical in writing UK law essays, there is not much space here for writing about your personal experiences etc.
Find Out How to Evaluate Cases & Statute Sections
Now that you have a good idea of how you can and should structure your essay-style UK law assignment, the next step is to ensure that you evaluate the cases and statute sections properly in your essay. In order to make sure you are doing the right thing, it is a great strategy to make a list of important and relevant questions that are going to help you prove your arguments. Those questions should be directly related to the central argument. They should help you either prove or disprove your central argument by referring to specific cases and statute sections. Once you have your questions ready and you know how to evaluate the law in your essay, you should simply attempt to answer them after every time you introduce a specific case or statute section. This is how you can ensure that your essay will definitely be to the point.
As mentioned at the beginning, writing an essay-style UK law assignment can be a challenge if you don’t have a plan and are not really sure how to approach it. But if you follow the advice mentioned in this article, you can definitely learn how to easily write first class law essays every single time. Good luck with the writing process!
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