BLC Regulations 2020-2021
The following regulations shall apply to all participants studying for the 1-year diploma in 2020-2021 with the British Law Centre. These regulations reflect the agreements concluded between Juris Angliae Scientia (as provider of the course) and the ‘Host Institutions’ (i.e. the various universities at which Juris Angliae Scientia delivers the BLC Diploma course).
- THE COURSE CURRICULUM
The course will provide instruction in the following subject areas through classes and training exercises conducted on weekends or evenings (depending on the arrangement in place with the relevant Host Institution).
|SUBJECT MODULE||SKILLS COMPONENT|
|ENGLISH LEGAL SYSTEM||Legal research, fact management, case analysis and oral advocacy|
|CONTRACT LAW (INCLUDING CONTRACT DRAFTING)||Contract negotiation and drafting, client interaction|
|CRIMINAL LITIGATION AND PRACTICE||Case and fact management, statutory interpretation, working with legal precedent, trial preparation, witness handling and oral advocacy|
|TORT LAW||Client interviewing, written advocacy, oral advocacy on non-factual issues (points of law), analysis of precedents|
|TRUSTS LAW||Mooting, preparation of written submissions (‘skeleton arguments’)|
To graduate, participants must successfully pass an assessment in each of the subject modules. Assessments take a variety of forms, including written work and practical legal skills exercises (e.g. advocacy and contract negotiation).
Teaching will be provided in the form of:-
- Teaching visits – general structure
Participants receive 8 teaching visits during the Diploma course. These are delivered in a 6+2 structure, in which 6 teaching visits are physical visits by BLC teaching staff to the relevant BLC centre and 2 teaching visits are conducted virtually (i.e. online), so as to better enable teaching delivery by external experts and common law academics of repute who are based outside the region. For the 6 physical visits during the Diploma course, visiting tutors will usually be members of the BLC’s permanent teaching staff, but will on occasion also include external experts.
Participants will be reminded in advance by email of the upcoming scheduled visit (see Timetabling below). They will also be informed which materials and questions need to be prepared in advance of the visit. The core of such preparation is reading the specific BLC workbook (see section 3 below on ‘Materials’) that covers the area of law which will be the visit’s focus, but will often extend to a limited range of additional materials, e.g. specific case readings, or preparations that may be required for a planned skill-training exercise (on the latter, see part B below). In addition, participants will usually be allocated a number of ‘problem questions’ to prepare (see below). It is each participant’s responsibility to adequately prepare for teaching visits in accordance with the guidance received from BLC teaching staff.
During each teaching visit, time will be divided so as to ensure that the following objectives are promoted:
- Clarification of content covered by the workbook and consolidation of participant learning – each visiting tutor will seek to ensure that all participants have understood the core legal concepts communicated by the prescribed pre-visit reading and to assist by providing elaborations and explanations on any points causing difficulty and responding to queries raised by participants.
- Attainment of confidence in framing arguments about the law and its application to factual situations – a substantial part of each visit will be devoted to developing participants’ ability and confidence in applying the law. Typically, this will involve close consideration of ‘problem questions’ (i.e. questions in which a series of events and circumstances affecting fictional characters is described and the task is to give these characters reasoned advice on their resulting legal rights and obligations). Participants are expected to actively participate and will be asked to offer suggestions on how such questions are to be resolved. The visiting tutor will support and guide the process as well as deal with queries related to the general approach expected in English university education when dealing with such questions. Resolving problem questions of this type is a major component of the assessment process on the Diploma (see ‘written assignments’ in section 5 below) and so practicing how to do this during teaching visits is important.
- Development of practical legal skills – although the specific manner in which skills are strengthened and developed will vary depending on the area of law on which any given visit is focused, visits will typically feature an exercise aimed at developing practical skills such as advocacy, negotiation, public speaking and presentation, contract drafting, or legal writing. The progress attained in the area of skills development will be used to build each participant’s personalised ‘Legal Skills Portfolio’ (see part B below).
On occasions where visits are led by visiting external common law experts and academics, a degree of flexibility in the structure of the visit will sometimes be necessary. However, the priority will remain learning consolidation and the development of the ability to construct and deliver legal arguments concerning the legal field being studied in that visit.
Online Lessons and Special Circumstances
The standard mode of Diploma course delivery is in the format indicated above, i.e. 6 physical visits to each BLC centre plus 2 additional visits conducted online so as to better facilitate course participant access to teaching from external experts in the common law. In circumstances where it is impossible to provide in-class teaching due to restrictions on movement imposed by the authorities in the state of the host university or in the state of residence of the teacher, it may prove necessary to increase the online component of teaching beyond 2 of the 8 scheduled teaching visits. In that event, BLC permanent staff will promptly notify course participants of the nature and extent of the changes and the reasons necessitating such changes.
The BLC may offer from time to time additional online lessons or skills content over and above the scheduled 8 teaching visits, in particular where this will support the better attainment of the learning objectives indicated above.
Class preparation and participation
As mentioned above, active participant participation in class discussion is a requirement. Participants must prepare any assigned readings and answers to any problem questions that have been indicated in emails received from BLC teaching staff prior to a teaching visit. A record will be maintained of participants’ class attendance and this will form part of participants’ attendance records (see part C below). Teaching staff will also note the level of participation by participants and this may be taken into account in resolving overall questions relating to the grant of the Diploma upon course completion, such as whether the Diploma should be granted with the special additional awards of Merit or Distinction.
A timetable setting out the specific weekends and/or evenings on which teaching will take place at each BLC Centre will be made available to participants on the BLC’s website. In the event that it proves necessary to make any amendments to the original timetable, participants will be given as much prior notice as possible.
- Skill-training exercises and the ‘Legal Skills Portfolio’
A majority of teaching visits will include a ‘skill-training’ component, which will aim at developing skills important in the legal professions and other practical contexts such as analysing case-law; analysing and interpreting statutory law; legal writing skills; negotiating, analysing and drafting contracts; client-interviewing; and advocacy skills. Skills acquired or developed will be documented in a manner designed to assist participants in accessing professional opportunities after graduating from the BLC Diploma.
In delivering skill-training, BLC teaching will pursue two primary objectives:
(i) Encouraging active learning
Skill-training sessions will focus on active participation on the part of all participants. Depending on the nature of the exercise upon which the development of skills during a particular teaching visit is based, this might include participants forming teams so as to take opposing positions (e.g. Seller or Buyer) in the negotiation of a contract clause, or for the purpose of engaging in debates, mini-trials, or mini-moots. An element of advance preparation will frequently be involved. This could take the form of reading background materials on the skill which is the focus of development, or perhaps critiquing or drafting contract clauses, or listening to a recording of a client interview and assessing to what extent legally relevant information has been obtained. Due to the range of skills being targeted, the structure of these exercises and the forms of participation and preparation will vary. But the emphasis will remain on ‘learning by doing’—i.e. keeping the focus on relevant and practical active learning rather than more passive and theoretical approaches.
(ii) Developing the personal ‘Legal Skills Portfolio’
In order to capitalise on the skills developed during the Diploma, the BLC teaching staff will assist each participant to compile and continually update a personal legal skills portfolio. The portfolio will be divided into areas corresponding to specific skill competences and will record information on how each specific skill was acquired and/or developed, including through participation in exercises in which the participant has engaged while studying for the BLC Diploma. During the year of study, participants will have the opportunity, whether in person or aided by VOIP platforms such as Skype, to discuss one-on-one with BLC teaching staff their progress in developing their legal skills, to identify areas of strength and those where further improvement is desirable, and to search out steps and measures that can be taken to further strengthen skills in key areas that are a priority for the participant.
By the time of graduating from the BLC Diploma, each participant will be in possession of an easy to access and understand record of attainment that relates specifically to skills and will complement the record of results achieved in assignments (see ‘Methods of Assessment’ in section 5 below). This will serve as a basis for communicating personal strengths to employers in the participant’s future professional life.
Participants should attend all their assigned classes and activities during each teaching visit during the Diploma course. Records will be maintained of participants’ attendance and of their in-class participation during teaching visits (see below).
What happens if my attendance falls below requirements?
In the event of significant non-attendance problems in a particular subject module, the participant may become ineligible to complete the assessment for that module unless an additional piece of assigned work (usually a piece of written work) is first completed. If a participant has special and compelling reasons why they are not able to attend part or all of a particular teaching visit, this should be notified in advance either to the BLC tutor with responsibility for coordinating teaching visits as indicated on the BLC’s website. Depending on the nature of the reasons for non-attendance and the past attendance and participation record of the participant, the requirement to submit additional work before being allowed to attempt the assessment in the subject module taught in the relevant teaching visit may be waived.
Online attendance records
Attendance records are stored on the BLC’s website (see below) and are updated regularly throughout the academic year. Participants are responsible for:
- attending all assigned classes and activities during teaching visits;
- where there are exceptional circumstances meaning that a teaching visit will be missed, giving advance notice in the manner indicated above and providing any requested supporting documentation;
- informing the tutor during class of their presence so that this may be properly noted;
- preparing for and actively participating during classes and activities;
- checking that their attendance record on the BLC’s website accurately reflects their actual attendance and promptly informing the BLC staff member responsible for coordinating teaching visits of any possible errors
- The Diploma Course’s Internet Site
Registering on the BLC’s site
On commencing studies with the BLC, all participants will be registered on the course’s eLearning platform, where the necessary reading and other course materials will be found. Each participant’s ‘username’ for these purposes will be the email address they provided on their application to the BLC (unless they advise the BLC staff otherwise). All participants will be given a generic log-in password which can be used when accessing the website for the first time and which should be changed to a private password by each participant on the first occasion of logging in.
Make sure your email address is your current one
Since each participant’s email address forms the basis for Moodle registration and since important notifications will be sent to that address, it is crucial that students inform the BLC staff directly if their contact email address changes. Participants should also take steps to ensure that emails sent by BLC staff are not directed to ‘spam’ folders, e.g. by ensuring that their email account settings are updated so that BLC staff members’ email addresses will be treated as ‘safe’.
BLC Workbooks and other important course materials – Where can these be found?
Each subject module during the course is accompanied by one or more workbooks, explaining the law relevant to that subject and containing questions to be prepared for class discussions. Along with other preparation materials, these workbooks can be downloaded from the BLC’s website. Having access to these materials is essential in order to actively participate in classes, so each student should ensure they have these materials on hand during teaching visits (e.g. by printing the materials or bringing a device on which they can be easily accessed).
There are two key places where crucial materials can be accessed:
Course Documents – workbooks, lecture handouts and recordings (in both MP3 and MP4 formats), recommended and additional reading (e.g. extracts of case reports or academic texts)
Gradebook – assignment questions and online assessments
Participants should regularly check the website for course information since the website will be their main source of information and materials. Furthermore, important information about special events and any necessary timetable changes will be posted on this site.
Completing your BLC online profile – photos and application forms
Each participant must upload a recent passport-sized photograph to their Profile, accompanied by a copy of their completed BLC course application form.
- COURSE FEES
Fee levels and deadlines
Course fees are published on the BLC’s website and may be revised annually. Participants must pay their course fees no later than 14 days prior to the course start date (normally 15th September in any academic year unless otherwise notified), unless they have already signed and returned the BLC’s Instalment Agreement and established a timetable for making payment in instalments. Anyone signing the BLC’s Instalment Agreement acknowledges that they are obliged to pay the full course fees even in the event that they choose not to complete the Diploma.
Early-bird fee reductions
An early-bird fee reduction may apply in any given year, the relevant terms and conditions of which will be published on the BLC’s website.
‘Returner’ fees payable when extending studies
A returner’s fee will be payable by any participant who fails to complete the Diploma within 1 year from their initial enrolment and seeks to complete any uncompleted module(s) in a subsequent academic year. The level of the returners’ fee in 2020-2021 is €100 per uncompleted assignment, subject to a capped maxim amount of returners fee of €400. Anyone who returns in a following year to complete the course will be granted full access to the website (inc. any updated materials) and will be welcome to join any/all classes on the Diploma, but not required to do so.
How to make payment
All participants will receive Payment Instructions detailing how to pay course fees (e.g. relevant bank account numbers, payment dates, etc.) These instructions constitute an integral part of these Course Regulations.
Important note on banking charges
All payments of course fees must be made by bank transfer. Since participants make payment of BLC course fees to a UK-based bank, charges may be imposed when making bank transfers. It is the responsibility of each participant (when making the bank transfer) to ensure that they accept the costs imposed by both their local bank and the BLC’s UK-based bank. In the event that a participant does not do so, they remain liable to pay any amount which was missing from their full course fees on arrival in the BLC’s UK account.
- METHODS OF ASSESSMENT
During the course, participants will need to successfully complete an assessment in each of the course curriculum modules (see section 1 above). Each module is assessed by one of the following methods:
- Written assignments
Written assignments are the most common type of assessment and require participants to provide reasoned legal advice to characters involved in a series of events that raise particular legal problems related to the area of law being assessed. Emphasis is placed on practical application of the relevant law to the facts and providing practical advice to the characters on their probable legal rights and obligations.
- “Open book” written exams
Participants may be required to answer practical problem-based questions (similar to written assignments, but shorter) in an exam environment under controlled time conditions. Any written exams will be “open book” in the sense that participants may use their notes and materials during the exam.
- Practical exercises
Certain modules are assessed by way of practical exercises designed to develop and assess participants’ legal skills. For example, participants’ understanding of the contract law regulating sales of goods is assessed by requiring participants to negotiate and draft a contract for the sale of a given product. Other types of practical exercises include mooting, debates, drafting of court pleadings, etc (see part B of section 2 above).
Submission of assignments and related requirements
Questions for written assignments will be made available on the BLC’s website (see section 3 above) and must be uploaded to the same website for them to be graded. Participants should ensure that their submitted answers comply with any instructions that were issued with the assignment, including deadlines for submission and the maximum length of answers (i.e. maximum word-count). Participants are only entitled to have their work marked if it was submitted on time (NB. extensions will not be granted in the absence of compelling and exceptional reasons). In the case of excessively long submissions, these will only be marked up to the place in the text where the applicable word-limit is reached and they will be graded on that basis alone. In the case of more serious breaches (e.g. plagiarism), there is no right to have the work assessed and further consequences may follow.
Option to return in a subsequent year to complete assessments
Any participant who does not successfully complete all the assessments required to qualify for the BLC Diploma in the relevant academic year will have the option—if the participant has worked in good faith toward completion of the assessment requirements—to “return” in the following (or later) academic year to complete any outstanding requirements. Returning students will need to pay the returner’s fee applicable in the year in which they wish to return (discussed in section 4 above).
The BLC teaching staff will maintain records of participants’ level of preparation, understanding, effort, and participation in class discussions. If a question arises in relation to assessment or attendance, a strong record of class participation will count in the participant’s favour in resolving the issue. Performance in classes may also impact on the final decision as to which participants should receive additional awards of “merit” and “distinction”.
STANDARDS OF ASSESSMENT
(i) Marking standards and procedures
All assignments and examinations are marked on a percentage basis reflecting the criteria and standards applied by UK universities. A pass mark is any grade higher than 40% and a “first class” mark is signified by a mark of 70% or above (in accordance with standard practice at Cambridge University and other English Universities). Please note that any grade above 70% indicates that the work in question is of a very high standard. Grades above 75% indicate work of such outstanding quality that there are many years in which no participant receives a grade this high. Any assignment which fails (i.e. fails to reach a mark of 40%) will simply be indicated as “FAIL” or “0”. This obviously does not mean that the work achieved 0%, but merely that it did not reach the requisite 40% pass mark.
Requesting a review of assignment marking
If any participant wishes to query the mark they were awarded or to raise any other query in relation to an assignment, this must be raised with the tutor who marked the assignment within 14 days of when the assignment was returned to the participant. The tutor will review the grade awarded or other issue raised in light of the concerns expressed by the participant and come to a decision. The tutor’s decision will generally be final, but in appropriate cases review requests will be referred to the BLC Academic Committee for further consideration and absolute final decision.
All assignments and other assessments are originally marked by members of the BLC teaching staff. These are returned to participants with tutor comments indicating areas of strength and those aspects where improvements can be made.
Moderation of marking by external examiners
All assignments and examinations are subject to double external examination. Currently, the external examiners responsible for finalising BLC participant results are from the University of Cambridge and the University of Glasgow. Accordingly, any marks awarded by BLC teaching staff are “provisional” until such time as they are approved by the JAS external assessment procedures, which also function as an annual review of the BLC’s marking quality and standards.
(ii) Failed assignments/examinations and retakes
Any participant who fails an assignment/exam (i.e. does not receive a grade of 40% or higher) will be automatically assigned a grade of 0% while the subject remains unpassed. A second attempt at passing the relevant subject (called a ‘retake’) is available to all participants. Retake submissions are assessed on a pass/fail basis. In other words, the grade awarded will automatically be 40% if the retake attempt is passed, with no possibility of a higher grade being awarded. If the retake does not attain the pass standard then the normal consequence is that the participant is not eligible to continue BLC studies and graduate from the Diploma. However, the participant may be granted permission to make a 3rd attempt where the BLC staff are of the opinion that special extenuating circumstances justify this. The attendance and performance records of the participant will also be taken into account in deciding whether to permit another attempt at the assessment.
- COMPLETION AND CERTIFICATION
All participants who successfully complete all the course modules within the relevant time-limits, and all other requirements concerning payment of fees and attendance, will be recommended for the course Diploma. The recommendation is preliminary and the final decision on the grant of the Diploma must await completion of the external review process (discussed above in part B of section 5). The external review process normally commences in November of each academic year and is usually completed by the following January. At the conclusion of this process, participants are informed of their confirmed entitlement to graduate and of the time and place of the graduation ceremony.
Graduates of the Diploma course shall receive the following:
A Course Diploma signed by senior representatives from Juris Angliae Scientia. At most BLC locations, the Diploma is also jointly awarded by the Host Institution (i.e. the university at which the teaching visits attended by the participant were hosted).
(The Diploma is categorized into Pass, Merit or Distinction according to the level of grades obtained during the course and participation in BLC classes and activities.)
Can I receive ECTS Points?
Depending on the particular cooperation agreement that is in place between Juris Angliae Scientia and the Host Institution, participants who are students of the latter institution may be awarded ECTS points upon successful completion of the BLC Diploma. Whether this is the case and the nature of any applicable conditions are matters for the internal administration of the Host Institution and accordingly, participants who are seeking ECTS points should take the matter up with the responsible faculty at the Host Institution. The Local Centre Liaison (see section 7 below) will be able to advise on these matters.
(i) Administrative Queries
The Local Centre Liaison
Any queries concerning the Host Institution’s rules and regulations relating to participation in the BLC Diploma (e.g. the availability of ECTS points) or accessing BLC recommended textbooks held at the Host Institution should be directed to the Local Centre Liaison. All participants will be provided with contact details for the Local Centre Liaison at the Host Institution through which they participate in the BLC Diploma course.
Juris Angliae Scientia (JAS), Teaching Visits and Course Organisation
Any queries relating to JAS fee payment, the attendance, notification and scheduling of teaching visits, or other course organisation matters can be directed in the first instance to Will Odogwu (email@example.com) , the BLC tutor responsible for coordinating teaching visits.
Queries relating to academic matters in connection with course modules, assignments, etc., should be directed to the tutor who is identified (on the BLC’s website) as being responsible for the particular subject area, e.g. Contract Law, Tort, or Trusts.
BLC website – technical issues
In the case of technical difficulties in accessing or using features of the BLC’s website, please contact Ruairi O’Neill (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The course is provided by the UK-based charity Juris Angliae Scientia and the interpretation and application of the Diploma regulations is governed by English law to the extent consistent with rights guaranteed by mandatory law.
All efforts are made to minimise amendments to these Regulations. However, in the event that any amendments are made, the version of the Regulations in force in any given academic year shall apply to all BLC participants studying toward the 1-year Diploma that year.
By submitting an application form for the Diploma Course and accessing the BLC’s website, participants express their consent to these regulations, including the rules regarding payment of course fees and the processing and retention of their personal data by the BLC strictly in accordance with the BLC’s Privacy and Data Retention Policy (see below).
Privacy and Data Retention Policy
When filing your online application to the BLC, you provided us with permission to contact you electronically. The permission for which we asked is voluntary and may be revoked by you at any time, for example by sending a message in reply to any electronic correspondence which you receive from us. If, however, you do not express permission as requested herein, or if you subsequently revoke such permission, we will not address any electronic communications to you in the future.
Your personal data is processed by the BLC to enable us to contact you regarding all aspects of the Diploma course and to keep you informed about the activities of the BLC and our sponsor law firms. We guarantee all your rights in this respect, including your right to request access to this data, to transfer such data, to correct such data, to delete such data and to delimit its processing, and also your right to object to our processing of your data. In the event that any participant’s objection to the BLC processing his/her data results in it becoming unreasonable or excessively difficult for the BLC to continue to contact with the participant or enable the participant to access course materials, assessments etc., that objection shall be deemed to constitute a withdrawal from the BLC course.
Unless storage of the data for a longer period is mandated by applicable laws, we do not retain your data longer than necessary to enable contact with you, to tailor our offer for you, and to provide information about the activities of the BLC and our sponsor law firms. Should you have any questions, for instance as regards your right to lodge a complaint with an oversight authority, or any requests or objections, we invite you to contact us.