Professor James Green, Law
Year of activity: 2007-08
Since 2007, the Law School has run a Part Three module entitled ‘International Law Mooting’. This is a highly innovative module, where a team of four students participate in the prestigious Telders International Law Moot Court Competition. The competition involves the team presenting written – and then, crucially, oral – arguments on a fictional dispute in international law.
- Memorials are jointly written and a single mark is given to all students: this builds teamwork, and prepares students for the submission of written memorials in real cases.
- The oral performance is assessed, meaning that advocacy and presentation skills are developed.
- Students are also assessed on individual reflective portfolios, which reward reflective learning and emphasize skill development.
The team competes externally, for the University of Reading, against other universities. This gives the University of Reading a profile nationally and internationally, and provides students with a wonderful experience. The work required to compete in the competition is significant, and so – after entering for the first time in 2006 as an extra-curricular activity – it was decided that student effort here had to be rewarded with appropriate degree credit, hence the creation of the module. It develops a wide range of practical legal skills that are simply not part of other, traditional, law modules.
Of the various issues that arose with regard to implementing the mooting module, the most pertinent for possible implementation elsewhere is the manner in which this module was to be assessed to give best effect to its learning objectives. A key learning objective was to develop communication and advocacy skills – but there is a danger of placing emphasis entirely on the student’s performance in the single external moot. Pressure is high, and ‘stage fright’ very possible. It is also difficult to ensure quality review of the marking of oral presentations/mooting. It was therefore decided that this issue could be addressed by complementing the marks awarded for the oral performance by also awarding a percentage of the marks for a reflective assessment. This ensured that students gained the credit that they were due for their skill development across the module as a whole, and not just based on the moot final alone.
The module has been hugely successful over the years. Students consistently give extremely positive feedback on the unique module design, and team-orientated nature of the module. It is also almost always the case that students gain extremely high marks in the module, with a significant number of firsts having been awarded. Indeed, no student has achieved an overall module mark below the 2:1 classification in 9 years of running the module.
We have, of course, reflected on the module over the years. One change we made was to increase the percentage of the overall grade for the oral performance, and to slightly reduce the amount for the portfolio. This was in response to student feedback – we had the balance a little too heavily on rewarding the reflection, and students felt they should get rather more credit for the moot itself. We feel, after reflection and a few tweaks to the module design, that the assessment methods now best suit the learning outcomes. By and large, though, the module is a resounding success and continues to run in a form that is not too dissimilar from what was originally envisaged in 2007.
Nothing beyond what is stated in the ‘Reflections’ box, above.
The Module Description Form for International Law Mooting: http://www.reading.ac.uk/modules/document.aspx?modP=LW3ILM&modYR=1617
The website for the external Telders competition: http://teldersmoot.com/