Foundations of Evidence Law LAW2052

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Law
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 2 (SCQF level 8)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This module examines the fundaments of the law of evidence in Anglo-American legal systems. It offers a critical perspective that will enable students to consider the underlying purpose(s) and policy objectives of the law of evidence, and equip students with skills in how to reason with evidential rules and principles. It is not a module which focuses on the fine detail of criminal or civil procedure of any specific legal system; rather, it identifies certain key rules and principles which are widespread across common law legal systems, and analyses the normative frameworks, ideas and assumptions which underpin them. Examples of evidence law and practice from a wide range of jurisdictions will therefore be relied upon throughout the module, with emphasis on the conceptual commonalities and differences that exist between them.


There are five units in the module: functions and theories of evidence law; general admissibility thresholds; foundations of exclusionary rules; trial fairness and legitimacy; witnesses. Students will be encouraged to reflect critically on the modern law of evidence, and question many of its key tenets and recent developments in the adversarial trial. While many of the topics considered in the module will be relevant to civil evidence law, the weight of attention is firmly on criminal evidence.


It is an core module for the LLB (Common law) degree(s).


Two (one-hour) lectures per week, and five (one-hour) tutorials fortnightly.

Requirements of Entry

Entry to the Common Law LLB or a visiting student. 

Excluded Courses

Criminal Law and Evidence (LAW1003 or LAW1036).




The course is assessed by means of a two-hour (part seen) exam in the second semester examination diet. The exam contains problem and essay questions.

Main Assessment In: April/May

Course Aims

■ to explore the fundaments of the law of evidence in common law legal systems

■ to develop a critical perspective on key rules and principles of evidence law and the adversarial trial structure in which they operate.

■ to encourage a critical understanding of the role of evidence law in criminal trials, and the values and policies involved.

■ to develop the ability to evaluate and debate current issues and developments in the law of evidence.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ critically evaluate key rules and principles of evidence law, and the rationales underpinning them

■ appraise some of the historical development of evidential rules and principles and how this has shaped the modern trial

■ assess critically the functions of admissibility rules and the theoretical and practical arguments that can be made for and against their operation in diverse factual scenarios

■ construct clear and coherent arguments about the purpose and role of evidence law in the modern adversarial trial

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Pass the summative exam.