Research and Academic Development Skills

The details
Essex Pathways
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Foundation/Year Zero: Level 3
Thursday 05 October 2023
Friday 28 June 2024
04 January 2024


Requisites for this module



Key module for

LLB M101 Law (Including Foundation Year),
LLB MM30 Law with Human Rights (Including Foundation Year),
LLB MV06 Law with Philosophy (Including Foundation Year),
LLB ML26 Law with Politics (Including Foundation Year),
LLB MN03 Law with Business (Including Foundation Year),
LLB MN13 Law with Finance (Including Foundation Year),
LLB MM03 Law with Criminology (Including Foundation Year),
LLB M1Q4 Law with Literature (Including Foundation Year),
LLB M1V2 Law with History (Including Foundation Year)

Module description

This module is designed to support students in their academic subject disciplines and to strengthen their confidence in key skills areas such as academic writing, research, academic integrity, and collaborative and reflective practices.

The students are supported through the use of subject-specific materials tailored to their chosen degrees with the alignment of assessments between academic subject modules and the skills module.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To develop students’ ability to operate effectively, in both written and spoken language, in a range of academic settings.

  • To develop students’ basic research skills, encouraging a critical approach to source materials and appropriate use of sources as supporting evidence.

  • To encourage independent learning strategies and develop students’ confidence to make judgments and be evaluative.

  • To equip students with appropriate and effective language and study skills applicable to their various disciplines.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:

  1. Produce academic writing which is well-structured, relevant and clearly reasoned.

  2. Communicate ideas, information and arguments with clarity, both orally and in written form, which demonstrates the ability to integrate students’ own ideas with those of others.

  3. Deliver effective presentations using an appropriate range of visual aids.

  4. Comprehend texts on a range of subjects identifying main points from listening and reading material, and demonstrating critical reading skills to assess the usefulness of the information.

  5. Make full use of academic libraries and a range of appropriate electronic media for independent research purposes.

  6. Demonstrate knowledge and appropriate use of academic register and referencing conventions.

  7. Develop time management strategies, employ self-directed learning and show an ability to reflect on one’s own goals and progress.

Module information


  • Develop techniques to deal effectively with assignments, including rubrics and command words.

  • Develop research techniques, including full use of library law resources.

  • Develop the ability to critically evaluate sources for quality and relevance, including legislation and cases.

  • Effective critical reading and note-taking, including the ability to identify the key points and to summarise and paraphrase, including work for case studies.

  • Produce academic writing, which is planned, structured, and with a clearly developed and supported argument (criticality).

  • Demonstrate effective editing, re-drafting and proofreading skills.

  • Demonstrate the ability to use legal sources with appropriate referencing.

  • Understand plagiarism and how to avoid it by referencing correctly using the OSCOLA footnote system.

  • Deliver effective presentations using visual aids appropriately for clarity, and to support the content.

  • Develop the appropriate academic language used in presentations and language used in moots.

  • Develop skills to work effectively as part of a group, and in support of the group.

  • Demonstrate the ability to work independently, manage time appropriately and use support effectively.

  • Develop the ability to set personal goals, reflect on progress and use feedback effectively.

  • The above syllabus will be developed using both generic material and material which is of specific relevance to law students, including current affairs and consideration of the law in ways which support decolonization of the curriculum such as historical context (Suhraiya Jivraj, Towards Anti-Racist Legal Pedagogy: A Resource SLSA Research Project 2020).

    Learning and teaching methods

    The module will be delivered via :

    • Two 2-hour classes.

    Teaching and learning on Essex Pathways modules offer students the ability to develop the foundation knowledge, skills, and competencies to study at the undergraduate level, through a curriculum that is purposely designed to provide an exceptional learning experience.

    All teaching, learning and assessment materials will be available via Moodle in a consistent and user-friendly manner.


    The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course.
    The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students.
    Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

    Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

    Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
    Coursework   MCQ Test    15% 
    Coursework   Formative Assignment  06/11/2023   
    Coursework   Essay Plan  11/12/2023  25% 
    Coursework   Scaffold Assignment  11/03/2024  30% 
    Practical   Reflective Presentation  26/04/2024  30% 

    Additional coursework information

    Formative assessment

    In the Autumn Term, students will write a 500-word reading-to-write summary based on a case to be used as part of a case study for module IA120. In the Spring Term, students will deliver a short individual presentation based on an alternative choice of case.

    Summative assessment

    • MCQ test (40 mins) - to take place early in the Autumn term. The test will develop the student's understanding of the OSCOLA referencing system for law, academic integrity and avoiding the different types of plagiarism. It will consolidate the key skill of knowing when and how to include a footnote reference.
    • Essay plan (850 words) - to be submitted in the Autumn term. The assignment will develop the student’s understanding of the use of an essay plan to organise the points of an argument and to help in the writing of an assignment. It will enable them to produce draft thesis statements. The assignment aims to develop students’ ability to determine the quality of a chosen resource and to give a clear indication of its suitability in relation to their chosen essay topic. As it supports the scaffolded essay assignment, the aim is to demonstrate to students the benefits of planning academic writing.
    • Scaffolded assignment (1,100 words) - to be submitted in the Spring term. The assignment will develop the student’s ability to produce an extended piece of writing in the most relevant genre for their pathway. The topic is selected in consultation with subject Module Leaders on the pathway.
    • Reflective presentation (7-10 minutes) - to take place in the Summer Term. Presentations are delivered individually but include an element of reporting on collaborative group or peer reflective exercises. The presentation aims to develop student’s oral communication skills as well as the ability to work collaboratively in both offline and online modes and to become more reflective learners.

    Reassessment strategy

    • Failed coursework - Resubmit a piece of coursework (1,000 words) which will be marked as 100% of the new module mark. The reassessment task will enable the relevant learning outcomes to be met. If the group presentation failed or has not been attempted, students will also be required to submit a 500-word presentation in notes/slides format. The weighting will be divided equally between the assignment and the 500-word presentation.

    Exam format definitions

    • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
    • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
    • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
    • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

    Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

    Overall assessment

    Coursework Exam
    100% 0%


    Coursework Exam
    100% 0%
    Module supervisor and teaching staff
    Dr Alexandra Trask, email: ahtrask@essex.ac.uk.
    Dr Alexandra Trask
    Lucy Anthony (lanthony@essex.ac.uk +44 (0)1206 874794



    External examiner

    Mr Gerald Dampier
    University of Surrey
    Teaching Fellow in Learning Development
    Available via Moodle
    Of 122 hours, 112 (91.8%) hours available to students:
    0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
    10 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s), module, or event type.


    Further information
    Essex Pathways

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