The Law of Evidence (M3025)

30 credits, Level 6

Autumn and spring teaching

This module is a study of the law of evidence in England and Wales but we also take the opportunity to examine and assess selected developments in other common law jurisdictions such as Australia, Canada and the USA.

An outline of the history and development of evidence law puts into context the significance of key principles as developed very largely by case-law and, increasingly, now to be found in statutory provisions. From the last quarter of the 20th Century to the present day we examine and assess the significant impact that issues such as re-balancing the interests of victims as against those of defendants plus the rapid development of anti-terrorist legislation aimed at protecting society are having on the fundamental principles of presumption of innocence, burden of proof and right of silence.

The overall objective of a fair trial is considered in both domestic and ECtHR jurisprudence. We also explore the impact of changes over the same period on the worrying prevalence of miscarriages of justice in areas such as confession evidence and eyewitness identification.

The two major exclusionary rules of evidence - bad character and hearsay - are examined in some depth in the latter part of the module and we also address important issues relating to witnesses, such as competence, compellability, special measures for vulnerable or intimidated witnesses and the very vexed question of sexual history evidence. To ensure particularly that the rapidly developing law on bad character and hearsay is as up-to-date as possible, separate handbooks are issued at the start of each main teaching term.

Overall, the aim is to make the module informative, relevant and stimulating.


54%: Lecture
46%: Seminar


50%: Coursework (Essay)
50%: Examination (Open examination)

Contact hours and workload

This module is 300 hours of work. This breaks down into 42 hours of contact time and 258 hours of independent study.

This module is running in the academic year 2019/20. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. It may become unavailable due to staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of such changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.