Law

Exam Board:  AQA

Law is offered as a two year course of study at Sixth Form.

“To every subject of this land, however, powerful, I would use Thomas Fuller’s words over three hundred years ago, “Be you never so high, the Law is above you.”  Lord Denning

Law was introduced as a Sixth Form Option in 2020.  A Level Law provides an introduction to law and the English legal system. It allows students to learn about a fascinating subject, one of which covers many aspects of life. You will develop an understanding of law and how it works, learn about the interaction between law and morals, justice and society and learn about different areas of law – e.g. criminal law, human rights and tort. Law students develop a range of skills including the application of legal rules and principles to present arguments, analysis and the evaluation of legal concepts. Students are also encourage to think about wider issues pertaining to the law – particularly the extent to which the Law sufficiently protects certain groups in society (i.e. the poor, ethnic minorities and women) and whether the Law actually provides ‘justice’ (a common assertion in many UCAS Personal Statements!)

Many of our A Level Sociology students go on to read for Law/Law related degrees. In 2019, a number of our Sixth cohort read for either single-honours or joint-honours degrees in the subject. Others read Law related degrees, including Criminology, Sociology and Anthropology.

By studying A Level Law, you will gain a respected qualification valued by Oxbridge, Russel Group Universities and employers.  You will develop the ability to:

  • Question common sense assumptions about the world around you.
  • Cut through the spin and lies of advertisers, the media and politician.
  • Conduct independent research.
  • Be able to analyse, process and present complex information very clearly.
  • Be able to debate and think and your feet.
  • Be confident in presenting your views and opinions.
  • Apply legal rules to problem questions and put theory into practice

What Will I Study in A Level Law?

Studying Law offers insight into the English Legal system. It helps to develop a multi-perspective approach to understanding the structure of the English Legal System (the different courts, the role of legal personnel (i.e. judges, solicitors, barristers, police), the law-making process (from Bill to Act), key elements of criminal law (murder/manslaughter, theft and Offences Against the Person), key elements of tort law (negligence and occupiers’ liability) and Human Rights.  Through your studies, you will question common sense assumptions about the Law, learn to cut through the media portrayal of the legal system and political spin. As part of your studies, you will conduct independent research, develop the ability to analyse, process and present complex information in concise ways and debate ideas and theories in an informed and critical way.

At MGSG, we follow the reformed OCR A Level specification for Law. This is a linear course, which has three formal exams at the end of Year 13. Each exam is worth 33% of the overall A Level grade. There is no coursework at A Level.

The A Level Law specification ensures that students gain essential knowledge and understanding of central aspects of the English Legal System and key issues relating to Criminal Law, Tort Law and Human Rights Law, together with a range of transferrable skills. Law fits with any A Level subject offered at MGSG but has especially close links with Criminology, Sociology, Politics, Economics/Business Studies, Psychology and English.

The course is comprised of 3 units, all of which are examined at the end of Year 13. There are 3 exams (each worth 33.33% of the total A Level). There is no coursework.

Unit 1: The Legal System and Criminal Law

The Legal System: This topic focuses on the legal system, including the nature of law, the civil and criminal courts and the legal profession. Students will develop knowledge and understanding of the processes and people involved in the law and the changing nature of the legal system. Students will consider the role of the courts (County, Magistrates’ Court and Crown Court) in our common law system and the extent to which government reforms have affected access to justice.

Criminal Law: This topic focuses on the rules and general elements of criminal law (actus reus, mens rea), murder/manslaughter, non-fatal offences against the person (common assault, battery, ABH, GBH and wounding) and theft. It provides an introduction to criminal liability. Students will develop knowledge and understanding of criminal law and the skills to apply their legal knowledge to scenario-based situations.

Key questions considered in this unit include:

  • What is the difference between Criminal Law and Civil Law?
  • How have government reforms to legal aid affected ‘access to justice’?
  • What is the difference between assault and battery?
  • Are legal rules relating to crimes out of date and in need of reform?
  • Should murderers be jailed for life or even put to death?
  • What do I need to become a barrister/solicitor?
  • Is it right that children aged 10 can be found guilty of crimes in England?
  • Why is the legal system different in Scotland?

Unit 2: Law Making and the Law of Tort

Law Making: The topic focuses on law making in England and Wales, as well as the European Union. Students will study law making methods (Green and White Papers, different types of Bill, legislative stages in the House of Commons and the House of Lords, different types of bill and common law decisions). You will also develop an understanding of legal method and reasoning as used by lawyers and the judiciary (statutory interpretation, doctrines of precedent).

Tort Law: This topic focuses on the law of tort, liability in negligence, occupiers’ liabilities and remedies. It provides an introduction to civil liability. Students will develop knowledge and understanding of the law of tort and the skills to apply their legal knowledge to scenario-based situations.

Key questions considered in this unit include:

  • Does the law make it too easy to sue people?
  • Is there a compensation culture developing in the UK?
  • Do people really want thousands of pounds in compensation after an accident/injury or do they just want an apology?
  • Does Occupiers’ Liability make it easy for trespassers to claim compensation for injuries occurred when they are somewhere they are not supposed to be?
  • Does the law-making process in Parliament actually work well?
  • Do judges have too much power to interpret the law? Are judges actually making the law?
  • Is legal precedent a problem for allowing the law to develop?

Topic 3: Special Study: Contract Law

In this topic, you will look at, arguably, one of the most overlooked but important areas of law: the Law of Contract. Here, you will understand what a contract ‘is’, the rules governing the formation of a contract, the need for contractual terms to be certain/clear and the importance of ensuring that legal agreements (or contracts) are respected. In our capitalist economy, the need for contracts to be upheld and enforced is paramount and you will learn how the law in this area has developed over the past two hundred years. You will also compare the Law of Contract with the Law of Tort and examine why the Tort of Negligence developed as a response to the inadequacies of the Law of Contract.

In looking at case studies from the law relating to these areas, you will consider what we mean by an ‘offer’ and an ‘acceptance’ to form a contract, the issue of whether two parties purporting to form a contract actually have an intention to create legal relations, what happens if two parties disagree over a contract they have made, what happens if a party to a contract refuses to meet their obligations and what the law can do in this situation.

Key questions considered in this unit include:

  • What do we mean by an ‘offer’? Does somebody displaying something in a shop have to sell it to me?
  • How do you ‘accept’ an offer? Does it have to be in writing? Can you accept an offer by text message or by e-mail?
  • Why does the Law generally not allow family members to sue each other for breach of contract? Why can’t I take my parents to court?
  • What happens if one party in a contract decides to ignore the agreement? Can the courts do anything in this situation?
  • What happens if one party thinks that the terms of a contract are unfair/too harsh? Is there anything the law can do?

Suggested reading for Law

Williams, G., Learning the Law

Slapper, G. & Kelly, D., The English Legal System

Dworkin, R., Law’s Empire

The Secret Barrister: Stories of the Law and How It's Broken