Hello. I’m going to write this blog Thursday to Wednesday to try to give you a good idea of what a typical week at York looks like for me. York Law School (YLS) teaches through problem-based learning and my academic week starts and ends on a Thursday/ Friday. So I thought that this structure would make the most sense.
On Thursdays and Fridays, we feedback on the two legal problems that we were researching the previous week and pick up two new ones. This might sound complicated at first but it works really well in practice and you get used to it very quickly on the course. You should hopefully be able to get some idea of how the process works (and how the work fits with my social commitments) by reading about my week.
In true law student style I’ll put some definitions below in case I use any terms that you won’t be familiar with at the moment:
Student law firm (SLF)
A small group of students who work as together in problem/discussion classes. At YLS you are assigned a student law firm every year. A large portion of your time in university will be spent in this group (this can sound intimidating but is actually great – there’s a lot of support to make sure that the group works together well and it’s a good way of forming friendships.)
On Thursdays, my student law firm feeds back to a tutor about one of the problems that we were working on in the previous week. We then pick up a new problem. Picking up new problems is probably my favourite part of every week, as you never know what you’ll be researching until you start reading. The group analyses the problem together and thinks of a memorable (and often hilarious) title for it.
On Thursdays, I start at university at 11.45am. I tend to plan my week so that I don’t have to do any work before I go in because I like being able to have a chilled morning and cook a nice breakfast. I live in private rented accommodation close to university with my husband, Sam, who studies Computer Science at York. Sam’s first lecture today was at 11.30 so we walked in together and then I spent 15 minutes replying to emails and preparing for my PBL session.
Today my student law firm picked up an interesting problem about criminal damage and selling houses. We discussed it, wrote up group notes, and left the session with a set of questions to research. My SLF uses a rota to appoint a chairperson and a scribe every session (although different firms do this in different ways) so no two sessions are ever quite run in the same way. After my session I waited for Sam to be finished and wrote up some notes, we then walked home together and made lunch.
On Thursday afternoons I do lots of work on the problem that I have just picked up because I like going into my weekend knowing that a large part of my work is already done. I spent this afternoon researching the new questions (there’s lots of guidance given on the virtual learning environment and YLS really focus on developing your research skills so it’s always pretty clear where you need to be reading).
I also helped with organising a social board game night with my SLF. This evening I’m planning on relaxing at home and cooking chicken pie with Sam.
Fridays are very similar to Thursdays for me except that we have a roundtable in the afternoon. Roundtables are small group sessions where we discuss and debate legal ideas.
Today I got up a little later, made some quick breakfast, and then headed into university for 11.45. My firm then handed back a PBL problem and picked up a new problem in pretty much the same way that we did yesterday. In this session I was the scribe, so it was my job to record the group discussion on the interactive whiteboard and make a set of useable notes as we went along.
After PBL I went and got lunch with Sam and a few of our friends. There’s a great cafe in the Piazza building on Campus East which serves hot food. We then headed off to our seminar, which was about feminist legal theory. The group had been looking forward to this seminar for a while because we’re all keen debaters so it’s great to explore the subjective side of law together. The seminar was challenging, but very engaging, and a great way to wrap up the week.
After our university sessions had finished Sam and I invited a few friends from my PBL group over to our house to play Cards against Humanity and board games. My PBL firm gets on really well and it’s great having met people who I can learn with during the day and also relax with after university.
I try to take one full day off every week – this week I chose Saturday. Today I drove to Wetherby where my Mum and I went to watch the horse racing. It was pretty cold but great fun. I went home in the evening to watch a movie and cook macaroni cheese with Sam. It’s good to take a step back and come back to university work with fresh eyes sometimes.
Today I worked on the PBL problem that I hadn’t started yet. I read some textbook sections, identified key cases/ legislation, and wrote up notes. Also, I prepared for my plenaries on Monday and Tuesday by downloading the slides ready to annotate during each session. Normally, I use the rest of this day to catch up on anything that I didn’t manage to get done during the week. This week that meant doing some reading about group work for an essay that’s due soon and doing a couple of additional research tasks.
On Sunday evenings Sam and I visit his family to watch Dr Who. Sam’s parents very kindly cook food for us which gives us a welcome break from cooking (and, more importantly, washing up). Sam and I try to see our families fairly regularly as we live nearby. But this is because we live independently full time and won’t be staying with them in the holidays. The majority of my friends live in halls. In halls students tend to do social activities like: college events (my college runs weekly yoga), going out into York, watching TV shows, etc in their flats/ houses during term time. This means that everyone stays busy and makes lots of close new friends.
Mondays are usually busy with plenaries but today wasn’t too hectic. I had four plenaries between 10.30am and 4.30pm. These were a mix of sessions to help with our research into the week’s PBL problems and ones for the other modules that we take in first year. I especially enjoy Criminal Law plenaries because they are very interactive. At the moment, we are debating principles of criminalisation (why certain behaviours are punishable under law whilst others aren’t). In between my plenaries, I got food with my friends and we tried to organise an ice skating trip.
After my plenaries had finished I went to the library study space in the Piazza building with a friend to do some work. Sam wasn’t finished until 5.30pm and I prefer to be able to walk home with him. The library at the Piazza can be somewhat intimidatingly quiet. But once you get over the fear of making any noise it makes it a great place to get on with work. The study space is shaped circularly, like a tower, and has ceiling height windows all around with a beautiful view over the lake. There are even comfy chairs and bean bags that you can sit and read on, which is great.
After Sam’s lecture finished we walked home and relaxed in the evening by watching ‘I’m a Celeb’.
Today began with a 9.30am Legal Skills lecture, a talk about careers options. I then chatted with friends before our plenary at midday. Lots of my friends are understandably a little nervous at the moment. Tomorrow half of the law firm is participating in a moot (my turn isn’t until next week). I have enjoyed preparing to argue a legal case for the first time. But I’ll probably get a little nervous closer to the day.
After lunch the SLF had our problem based learning interim session. In this session, we meet for an hour to discuss how our research is going and to highlight with our interim tutor any areas that we might have missed. It’s really useful to have this session. By this point in the week, questions have usually come up about what we are researching.
After interim finished I walked home and worked for a few hours until Sam got back. We then drove to Lidl to do our food shopping for the week. Before watching ‘I’m a Celeb’ again (this show is a fixture in my life for the next few weeks, I’m afraid). A bonus from today is that my friends and I have managed to organise a day to go ice skating together; we’re going next Thursday as a farewell before breaking up for Christmas.
Today I went into university for 9.30am to watch the first half of the Legal Skills moots. My SLF has been split into six teams who are mooting (doing a barrister-style legal competition in front of a mock court) against another SLF. My moot isn’t until next week, so today I wrote some feedback for the three teams who were speaking. The moot is a little stressful but I’m looking forward to challenging myself (and reminding myself firmly that if everything goes wrong all that I have to do is read from my well-prepared script). I hope it’ll teach me whether I enjoy standing up in ‘court’ or just find it scary. I’m interested in becoming a barrister in the future so it’s good to get this sort of experience at university.
After the moot we had a property law plenary and then I came home and cooked some lunch with Sam. I then worked on reading some cases for the PBL problems for a couple of hours before getting ready to go skiing with the Snowsports Society (YUSNOW). We met YUSNOW at 5pm. A group of around fifteen of us went by minibus to Xscape to ski on real snow for three hours. It was a really fun trip; Xscape had some jumps and other features up so I got to practise my (incredibly rubbish) freestyle skills. The club then got some food together before heading home. Societies are a great way to meet people from all over the university (different years, different departments, different colleges.) YUSNOW runs two yearly ski trips and I’d love to go on one at some point in the future too.
That’s the end of my week in the life blog post; tomorrow I drop off these PBL problems and start the whole cycle over again. I hope that you’ve found this post useful and that it’s given you some insight into what a week in my life as a York Law School student looks like.