Studying Law at University: Everything You Need to Know

By Simon Chesterman; Clare Rhoden | Go to book overview

5
CRUCIAL
CONCEPTS

‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean— neither more nor less.’

Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass (1872)

A big part of removing the mystique of law is understanding its crucial concepts. If you can get hold of these ideas early, you will save yourself much time, trouble and heartache later in the year.

Law often appears in technical language, the meaning of which is not always apparent to the uninitiated. It may be written in Latin (ultra vires,mens rea), French (chose in action,en ventre sa mère) or in obscure English (‘devise’ = give land by will, ‘determine’ = bring to an end). A good legal dictionary is therefore an important reference tool (see Appendix I for some recommended reading).

In this chapter, we focus on some of the crucial concepts that are often presumed in law. We begin with the different meanings of the word ‘law’, and then move on to some of the other concepts that will help you get started.

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Studying Law at University: Everything You Need to Know
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Other Titles in This Series *
  • Title Page *
  • Foreword v
  • Contents vii
  • Figures x
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction xii
  • Part I - Surviving Law 1
  • 1 - Why Are You Studying Law 3
  • 2 - Coping at University 18
  • 3 - Essential Study Skills: Time Management 24
  • 4 - Essential Study Skills: Reading, Note-Taking, and Learning Legal Concepts 41
  • Part II - Understanding Law 61
  • 5 - Crucial Concepts 63
  • 6 - Reading Case Law 68
  • 7 - Introducing Legal Theory 78
  • Part III - Using the Law 89
  • 8 - Writing Law Essays 91
  • 9 - Preparing for Law Exams 106
  • 10 - Sitting Law Exams 116
  • 11 - Dealing with Problems 130
  • Part IV - Conclusion 139
  • 12 - Final Reflections on Law 141
  • Appendix I - Suggestions for Further Reading 143
  • Appendix II - Learning Styles Quiz 145
  • Appendix III - A Starting Point for Using Web Resources 150
  • Appendix IV - The View from the Kitchen 153
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