Studying law at York will help to prepare you for qualification as a solicitor or barrister, or for a range of other careers. We do lectures and seminars like most other universities but we focus on Problem Based Learning. I find it a much more supportive and friendly environment than some of the other courses I looked at. I know it’s one of the things you are asked about at the interview stage but when starting at York I didn’t have a lot of knowledge about what it actually was.
How We Study At York
We work in groups of about 12 known as “student law firms” through the year on Legal “Problems”. These can take the form of a newspaper article, a letter from a client, or even a diary entry. This is part of the reason that York does not set a reading list for Law but encourages you to read the newspaper and for each article, to think about the legal issues surrounding it.
You work together as a group in an informal, friendly environment to find what legal issues arise from the information you are given. During this process you are guided by a tutor so you aren’t just left on your own. Then, we come up with learning outcomes that we go away and research, ready to feed back the same time next week.
We have a meeting in between that where we discuss our research to make sure we are on the same page. Then during the next PBL session we spend half of it feeding back on the problem to the tutor, and the other half given a new problem.
Throughout the whole process we are guided and supported by each other and our tutors. Lectures usually tie in quite well with whatever problem we are doing that week and having the problem to remind you of those legal issues really helps everything stick in your mind.
Because we work in “firms” it helps introduce us to the shock of university life. It makes you feel a little less on your own. I’m still really good friends with my first year firm as we got on so well and socialised a lot together so it was not just work. As they are the first people you meet at York it’s easy to form lasting friendships.
You get a new firm every year which are determined by what option modules you take and even though I didn’t want to leave my first year firm I have found the people I am working with now fantastic. By changing firms you get to know more people on your course and expand your social group.
We are allocated our own personal advisors who are there to support you throughout your degree. Every first year “student law firm” is also paired up with one from second year for additional guidance.
In first year I had lectures all day on Monday and Tuesday, they are rarely longer than an hour and if they are the lecturer will usually warn you and let you have breaks. Wednesday was less busy and usually had careers advice or sessions on as well as Legal Skills which is a compulsory module designed to help you learn, surprise surprise, Legal Skills. Thursday and Friday we had the Problem based learning sessions, they last for about 2 hours.
In terms of work done outside of lectures, it varies, sometimes a problem might be more difficult and especially when you are getting to grips with legal research it can take longer at first. But you still have plenty of time to relax in between whether that means joining a society, going out with your friends or just catching up on sleep.