LWMDEP-The Death Penalty

Module Provider: School of Law
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Dr Mai Sato

Email: m.sato@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
The course will discuss the issue of capital punishment from a domestic and international law perspective. Students will learn about the applicable human rights standards, as reflected in human rights treaties, and the extent to which defendants in capital cases are protected by due process and have access to qualified defence counsel, and where they lack protection from police abuse, unfair trials, and painful forms of execution. They will explore what happens when the due process safeguards fail and innocent people are convicted and sentenced to death. Further, they will consider whether capital punishment can ever be administered equitably, without discrimination on grounds of race, geography, gender or other non-legal variables. Students will also explore the politics of the abolitionist movement, including the arguments and forces that have been at work to achieve abolition and those that have been used to resist it. Students will discuss whether abolition can be achieved in those countries that still retain it and in particular, the role of public opinion.

The overall aim is to provide students with a good understanding of the scope and practice of capital punishment worldwide and the movement, backed by international organisations, human rights treaties and the domestic courts, to abolish the death penalty. Specific aims will involve exploring the relationship between international human rights law and the domestic protection of human rights and throughout the course students will be asked to draw on recent and controversial cases as well as social scientific literature. The module also aims to encourage students to explore the politics of the abolitionist movement, including the arguments and forces that have been at work to achieve abolition and those that have been used to resist it.

Assessable learning outcomes:
On completion of the module, students will be expected to be able to:??

•Explain and apply the theories and arguments that support the abolition of the death penalty and those that have been used to resist it. ??
•Identify and assess the international human rights standards that regulate the use of the death penalty.
•Explain and critically discuss the judgements from constitutional courts restricting the application of the death penalty.
•Demonstrate an understanding of the challenges in achieving abolition of the death penalty, including the role of public opinion.
•Draw upon a body of detailed substantive knowledge gained through both class participation and self-study, and apply this to contemporary dilemmas associated with capital punishment in an assessed piece of written work.

Additional outcomes:
The small group teaching and independent study elements of this module will facilitate the development of high-level oral communication skills and the enhancement of individual critical analysis ability.
These outcomes are in addition to those listed in the School’s “core skills statement”.

Outline content:
The module will cover such topics as:

1.Abolition and Retention: a global perspective on the status of the death penalty
2.The influence of international law on the death penalty
3.The role of the domestic courts in restricting the use of the death penalty
4.Procedural Protections for the Accused, especially vulnerable defendants
5.Convicting and Sentencing the Innocent: the inevitability of error
6.The role of public opinion

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Teaching in this module is designed to provide students with a range of resources on which they can draw in their learning. The main elements are:
•A list of required and recommended readings with a list of notes and questions that will guide preparation and class discussion; and
•Seminars, individual tutorials and independent research

Where there are Faculty seminars relevant to the area then students in the module will be encouraged to attend and given the opportunity to discuss the issues with visiting academic presenters

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 4
Tutorials 1
Guided independent study 95
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Other information on summative assessment:
An assessed essay of 8 pages (formatted in accordance with the School of Law’s Assessed Work Rules)

Formative assessment methods:
Students will have the opportunity to submit an essay plan to the Module Convenor prior to submission of the assessed essay.

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information: http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/exams/student/exa-guidePG.aspx

Length of examination:

Requirements for a pass:
50% overall

Reassessment arrangements:
See School of Law PGT Programme Handbook

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
1) Required text books:
2) Specialist equipment or materials:
3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
4) Printing and binding:
5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

Last updated: 21 December 2016

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