Executive Summary

This is a new initiative by the Law School that will provide a novel learning experience to a mix of first year Law students, intermediate year students and finalists. First year Law students do not currently have the opportunity to learn in groups with older year groups and so this event will be innovative and inclusive, unifying the undergraduate community in the Law School.

The event will also be open to students from the Humanities Faculty and some pupils from local schools participating in our Widening Participation programme. This innovative project is therefore interdisciplinary, inclusive and diverse and will forge and strengthen links between the Law School and the wider community, both within and outside the university.

The initiative is also innovative as it takes learning outside the classroom to the old Crown Court in the town of Warwick. Students will explore the historic building - having access to the cells, the seventeenth century dungeon and the old court rooms. Many students will not have been in a law court before this event. Visiting a court, especially one so historically intact, will enable the students to fully appreciate the theatricality of the court setting and the drama of the proceedings - aspects of the law that can easily be overlooked when students experience only paper accounts of proceedings.

As the Old Warwick Crown Court is relatively unchanged since the nineteenth century, and the re-enactments will be performed in period costume, the experience will bring to life cases from the past. This will be of great benefit to students as they are often required to learn the detail of cases from the eighteenth and nineteenth century but can find it difficult to appreciate the historical context in which the judgments were given. The experience will be innovative as it will allow students to re-enact two cases and thus give them an ‘authentic’ experience of the law.

For each case, the students will have access to copies of the original court records held by the County Record Office, including copies of the original depositions from the witnesses and the defendants. Once students have researched the cases, they will help re-enact the trials in the historic courtroom where the hearings originally took place, acting as the jury, judge and witnesses. Students will be acting as researchers and therefore partners in their learning.

The creative and collaborative experience will therefore incorporate a blend of innovative student-led, performance-based, open space learning.

The event will be managed, with staff support, by a working party of students. In particular, students will be involved in deciding how to record this event so it can be used as a resource by students in the future, at Open Days and by the Widening Participation programme within the Law School.