Legal skills and debates in Scotland
Legal skills and debates in Scotland

This free course is available to start right now. Review the full course description and key learning outcomes and create an account and enrol if you want a free statement of participation.

Free course

Legal skills and debates in Scotland

1  Reflections on law

Parliamentary bodies create, codify, consolidate and amend laws. This is not the only way in which laws develop. Courts have a role in interpreting statutes according to legal principles, and their decisions (which are referred to as case law) must be taken into account before we can confidently state that a particular position is the law. Court decisions are also subject to appeal and review, so the law does not remain static. The fact that laws are not fixed can be frustrating for students and others who are seeking certainty and firm guidelines to underpin their practice. Another aspect of law which can also strike students as strange when they first study is that the law often fails to provide ready solutions to the dilemmas. It is not black and white and there are many grey areas. This dynamic quality of law, however, is its strength. It can change to reflect the needs of the society in which it operates, remaining relevant and current.

Law is not just a series of commands that dictate certain outcomes and impose obligations. It is also enabling and empowering, providing options for decision-makers to exercise choice. This aspect of law is particularly relevant in professional settings – for example, police officers, social workers, doctors, nurses – where roles are characterised by the need to exercise professional discretion. Although policies and procedures may set the parameters within which choice is exercised, it is often individual workers who make the decision about which legal option to take. Their choice will be influenced by a range of factors, including their knowledge and understanding, their experience of similar situations, the viability of available options, and their values.

Activity 1 Thinking about law

(Allow 10 minutes)

Take a few minutes to think what you have learnt about law on this course. What key points will you remember? At the start of the course you were asked to think about your perceptions of law. Have these changed or been reinforced?

You can type text here, but this facility requires a free OU account. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).


Each answer to this activity will differ. The purpose of this activity was to provide a point at which you look back and reflect on your studies. Providing an opportunity to think about the knowledge you have gained and how, or whether, this has impacted on your perceptions of law.

The rest of this week provides an opportunity to develop your knowledge using some basic legal skills.


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has nearly 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to university level study, find out more about the types of qualifications we offer, including our entry level Access courses and Certificates.

Not ready for University study then browse over 900 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus