LW3CFS-Children, Families and the State

Module Provider: School of Law
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2019/0

Module Convenor: Dr Annika Newnham

Email: a.newnham@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module looks at how Child Law is used to protect and promote the best interests of children in the context of local authorities’ duties to assist children in their area, care proceedings and adoption, as well as the use of private child law under section 8 of the Children Act 1989 to divert cases away from care proceedings.  There is a slight overlap with LW3FAM Family Law on how disputes over children are decided. However, LW3CSF focuses on public child law and adoption, which are not covered in LW3FAM.  Both modules can be taken independently.

Students will have the opportunity to develop their presentation and research skills and to work in small groups as part of their assessment. The course is engaging, challenging and encourages student participation through a range of hands-on activities.


To offer students new learning opportunities through a more practical and critical examination of public child law, adoption and private law diversion.  To embed employability skills through authentic assessment, allowing students to develop new skills alongside a deeper understanding of the law.

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of this module it is expected that the student will be able to:

  • Identify the substantive law used to resolve cases involving children in struggling families including care proceedings, adoption and child arrangements orders;

  • Apply the law to concrete and complex problem scenarios;

  • Provide targeted legal assistance and advice to fictitious clients;

  • Critically analyse the current law and its implementation and propose reform

Additional outcomes:

  • Students will develop research skills and technology skills in preparing for and completing these exercises.

  • Students will improve their presentation, communication and debating skills.

  • Students will be required to work in groups during seminars, so will improve their teamwork skills.

Outline content:

  • The Welfare Principle which stipulates in S1(1) of the Children Act 1989 and S1(2) of the Children and Adoption Act 2002 that the child’s best interests is the court’s paramount consideration as well as the further guidance provided in Section 1 of the Children Act 1989. 

  • Local Authority responsibility for helping families on a voluntary basis.

  • Care proceedings and emergency orders to safeguard children. 

  • Adoption, with a particular focus on the cases where children are adopted without their parents’ consent, and the changing nature of adoption in England and Wales

  • Private Law Solutions including Special Guardianship Orders and Child Arrangements Orders.

  • Critical Evaluation of the best legal routes for different cases involving children in struggling families. 

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 12 2
Seminars 4 10
Guided independent study: 84 88
Total hours by term 100 100
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

  1. Summative essay of not more than 5 pages formatted in accordance with the School of Law’s Assessed Work Rules submitted in the Autumn term (40%) OR individual oral presentation, to be accompanied by an abstract and bibliography (40%).

  2. Summative Written work: Evaluative Report and Client Letter not more than 7 pages formatted in accordance with the School of Law’s Assessed Work Rules submitted in the spring term (60%)

Formative assessment methods:

Students have the opportunity to submit a formative essay plan during the Autumn Term, which will be marked and returned with feedback. 

Students will have opportunities to gain formative feedback relevant to all pieces of assessment on exercises completed and work produced during seminars.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:


    Reassessment arrangements:

    See School Guide (Programme Assessment). Only a failed element need be re-taken; the mark for a passed element can be carried forward.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):



    Required text books


    Specialist equipment or materials


    Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear


    Printing and binding


    Computers and devices with a particular specification


    Travel, accommodation and subsistence


    Last updated: 2 September 2019


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