Personal, University

Week 6

So this week has been a nightmare of a week.  I have had two pieces of written work to submit (one of which contributes towards my grade directly and the other indirectly) and a group presentation to prepare for.

Now, those of you who have been following my tweets will be aware of what’s happened regarding the presentation, but for those of you who have not here is the low down on the disaster.

Last week I received communication from my group presentation partners that they were beginning to get worried as we had not yet met regarding the presentation.  I wasn’t overly worried as it’s not the most complex pieces of work in the world:  three people to prepare and deliver as 5-7 minute presentation on a given case.  We arranged to meet on Wednesday this week, and that’s where the nightmare started.

We had arranged to meet at 11:30 on the Tuesday morning.  As I was making my way into University I received a text saying they’d over-slept and it would now be 12:30 before they got in.  Fair enough, we all run late from time to time so I altered my plans and arrived at the University at 12:30 – they eventually turned up at 1pm.  We located a room to do some work in and it was then they announced they hadn’t even read the case (in fact they hadn’t even pulled it from Westlaw).  So I gave them a quick rundown of the case and we agreed who would do what.  They left saying they would read the case that evening and we would meet up the next day after the lecture we have in common.

We’re now on Wednesday and I fail to see them in the lecture.  I take my seat in the middle and the lecture begins.  The two hours pass and as I’m packing up I still don’t see them there.  As I leave the lecture theatre my phone goes off with a text saying they wouldn’t be coming in at all that day.  Great!  So, some texts go back and forward and we agree to meet at 1pm on Thursday afternoon for a couple of hours before my class at 3.

Along comes Thursday and at about 12:15 I get a text saying they now wouldn’t be in until 2:30.  I send them a text back reminding them that I have a class at 3, so 2:30 isn’t really a suitable time.  More texts go back and forth and we agree to meet at 9am on Friday (3 hours BEFORE the presentation) – by this point I am somewhat glad that I spent Wednesday evening preparing material as a last resort for the entire group so that we would at least have something to present!  I make it clear in my texts that I’m not impressed and that they had better not be late in the morning as to get to the University for 9 it means getting up at 6 and leaving just before 7.

I type this on Thursday afternoon so, whether they turn up or not (on time) is still to be discovered.

My essay has also been a bit of a nightmare.  I finished it in plenty of time and had edited it and such like.  I left the house in time to get onto campus with a hard copy of my essay.  I get to the train station and onto the train and bring out some work I still had to complete for the same module.  It is then as I’m flicking through the booklet and suddenly I remember:  my new University requires both electronic and hard copies to be submitted by the deadline (my last University required you to make available, upon request, an electronic copy of the essay – usually only requested if they suspected you of some kind of academic misconduct).  I then remember that my electronic copy is on a USB stick at home.  Panic sets in – I simply don’t have time to get off the train at the next stop to get home to collect it and get back to the University by the deadline of 12 noon.

My (computer illiterate) mother is at home and I decide the only option I have is to phone my mum and see if she’d be willing to attach the file to an E-mail and send it to me.  When I phone her she freaks out as she has no idea what I’m on about.  So I spend the next 30 minutes taking her step-by-step through the process of retrieving the file from my USB stick and attaching it to a blank E-mail…thankfully it works!

The next problem is that the building in which the bulk of the Law School is situated has no student IT access, for that (and most classes) we need to head to one of the main buildings on campus – they are a good 10 minutes away from each other).  So, I arrived on campus 35 minutes prior to the deadline and begin the inevitable hunt for a computer that’s not being used!  I was lucky; as I entered the library FIVE became available all at once.  This saved me a huge amount of time (and never normally happens).  In the end I managed to submit both the electronic and hard copies with 15 minutes to spare.  Not the closest to the deadline I’ve ever submitted an essay (once submitted one with literally a matter of seconds to spare!)

It’s the “Mid semester break” next week, which means no classes (and for most students, except Law and Nursing students, a full week of relaxation).  However, I have two essays due in during the first half of the following week and an abundance of reading left to do, so I’ll be kept pretty busy.

Despite all the stress, drama and long days I’m still enjoying every minute of my Law degree and being back at University!

Podcast, University

Week 5

Well another week has flown past and it is now half way through the semester (another 5 weeks of teaching left)!  The workload is starting to get even heavier with essay deadlines beginning to arrive which have to be worked in amongst the usual reading and seminar prep!

I somehow thought I would have more time to blog when back at University than I did when I was working full-time, but the reality is I’m no better off on the time front.  I have been composing draft blog posts as and when I get the opportunity, but they are still some way from being complete and ready for publishing!

Regardless of time I’ve always found the time to tweet and today I tweeted out some pictures from the University, such as pictures of the beautiful and rather old building where the School of Law is based as well as a picture looking over the campus.

I’m really appreciating the campus here at The University of Stirling; it is simply a beautiful place to study.  It’s only about a 10 minute bus journey from the centre of Stirling, but is really quite peaceful and quiet – to the point you can forget how close to Stirling you are!  The campus is dominated by the Wallace Monument which you can see from anywhere you are outside on Campus and it sits on a hill overlooking the campus.  The campus is also surrounded by hills and when the sun is out is simply a spectacular place to be!  I will, at some point over the course of the next three years, get my camera up here and get some proper shots of the campus – maybe during the summer holidays when it’s less busy and the weather is most likely to be suited to showing off the true beauty of the campus.

The loch in the middle of the campus provides relief when stressed.  It’s a really nice and calming walk round it and the views you can get are, once again, spectacular.  I’m sure I’ll make use of that walk many times over the next few years (especially around exam time).

I’ve noticed over the last 5 weeks that we have a large number of Canadians studying here at the University of Stirling, most of who appear to be studying the accelerated LLB (having qualified in Canada first).  They have some interesting perspectives, but do sometimes seem to confuse Scots Law with the Law of Canada.  I mention this because I am curious as to why there so many of them are here.  I know the University has links to a number of Canadian Universities for exchanges lasting a semester or a full year, but as far as I’m aware these guys are not on an exchange and are looking to fully qualify and practice here in Scotland (I will need to do a bit of asking to find out more I think).

I have an essay due in next week for my Delict module looking at the development of the law in the area of establishing the existence of a duty of care since the famous case of Donoghue v Stevenson.  It’s not due in until Thursday, but my plan is to finish it on Saturday (I’ve only another 300 words or so left to write) and then go back and reflect on it Monday or Tuesday with the view to having it submitted on Wednesday.

Mooting is about to get underway for this year.  I’ve decided not to take part this year as I want to focus on getting back into the swing of studying and University life after a break which effectively lasted two years.  The experiences I’ve had with mooting in the past have been fantastic and I will definitely be getting involved next year!

Mid semester break is coming up, but it won’t be much of a holiday.  With the lengthy Christmas break we get here (as a result of starting back a few weeks ahead of everyone else and our exams being before Christmas) I’ve decided to spend the week focusing on consolidating the first 6 weeks of classes and completing the two essays I have due on the 1st and 3rd November.  Most people say I’m mad, but the way I view it, with us not returning until the middle of February there is a decent opportunity between the two semesters to recharge the batteries.  Also, with this large break being between Semesters I will be able to enjoy it as I won’t have that feeling that I have work I could be doing niggling away in the back of my mind resulting in a less enjoyable week off.

I will of course comment on the Chancellor’s speech in the Commons following the UK Spending Review next week and the decision in Cadder v HMA (which is expected on the same days as the results of the UK Spending Review!)

That’s all for now folks!

Criminal Justice, Criminal Law, Human Rights, Legal System, Personal, Politics, procrastination, Scots Law, University

Update

Well it has been a couple of weeks since I last blogged and I’m now at the end of the fourth week of the semester.

If you follow me on Twitter you will be aware that I’m being kept rather busy with University work just now.  I’m more or less up-to-date with the reading that is designated as “essential” and I’ve also managed to do some of the reading marked as “recommended”.   I continue to spend the majority of my time locked away in the library and I am easily doing (including timetabled classes) 38 or 39 hours work per week for my degree.  This, of course, should mean great results in the forthcoming essays and the end of semester exams in December.  However, I never have bene that great at exams, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

I’m enjoying most of my modules this semester.  There is one in particular that I am not enjoying and that is down to a combination of having no interest in the subject area at all coupled with a lecturer who is constantly making mistakes in the lectures (whcih doesn’t give one much confidence).

I’m finding Delict probably the most enjoyable of my modules this semester.  Depsite this it is an area I doubt I’ll ever enter into in practice.  My reasons for entering into the Law were really to stand up for the small man against the giant state (which is why I am drawn towards Human Rights, Criminal defence, Immigration).  Although in saying that, I do have a keen interest in Family Law.  This interest in Family Law stems from the voluntary work I did for a national chldren’s charity where.  My interest really lies in the child in such situations and ensuring that proceedings cause the least disruption possible to the life and development of he child.  Parent’s don’t always get on and sometimes they decide to divorse, but in these situations (my experience has taught me) the child freqeuently gets “forgotten” about by the warring parties (or even becomes a tool used by the parties to cause pain and distress to the other).  Sometimes, I suspect, adults don’t really realise just how much these situations affect the child, and certainly, I’ve spoken to young children (as young as 7) who have a good understanding of just what is going on and are being affected in ways that the adults may not even realise!

Anyway, I digress.

I’ve not been busy enough to forget about blogging.  In fact, I’ve spent some time over the last few weeks working on some well considered blog posts on particular areas of Law.  They are all still in draft form and still quite a bit away from being finished pieces of work that I would want to publish on my blog.  However, these will come over the weeks and months to follow.

I continue to watch the news with interest.  There continues to be a lot of interesting things happening in the world of Scots Law at the moment.  The Decision of their Lordships in Cadder v HMA is due in the coming days and the trial of Tommy and Gail Sheridan for perjury is underway.  Of course, the decision to release Abdelbaset Ali Mohamed Al Megrahi continues to be a story dominating news at the moment as do the issues surroudning his trial and conviction.  The recent decision by the Lord Advocate to resign at the next election of the Scottish Parliament is also of interest, not least because this will mean the appointment of a new Lord Advocate, but there is also the consideration of Judicial Review over the Information Commissioners refusal to look at who paid for the threats of legal action issued on behalf of the Lord Advocate relating to the Hollie Greig case.

The Lord Advocate’s announcement of her inetntion to step down at the next election has also led to an examination of her time in the post.  Elish Angiolini QC was the first woman and the first solicitor to be appointed to the post.  I’m sure plenty of people will be willing to support her time in post or to condemn it.  I don’t really have much of an opinion on the matter, other than that I harbour no bad feelings towards her.

There is also the legislation being brough forward by the Scottish Government to modernise the rules on double jeopardy in Scotland.  This will, of coure, have a profound effect on the criminal justice system in Scotland and we must make sure that the legislation is framed in such a way that it is not open to abuse.

All of these are things I have blogged about in the past and will continue to blog about as they continue to develop and unfold over the coming months.

I’m also on the look out for new and exciting opportunities to fill the time I’m not spending on University work, socialising or sleeping.  So, if you know of any then let me know!

Anyway, I think it’s about time I stopped procrastinating and got back to some hard work looking at the wonders of mental harm in the context of delictual liability!

Personal, University

Week 2

Well the second week of the new semester is almost over.  My timetable looks very light, but it should not be underestimated.  I have spent a large number of these supposed “free” hours in the library pouring over case law and statutory provisions in order to really get a sense of what is being said in lectures.  Not only that, but the first of my weekly seminars takes place this week, resulting in even more reading to allow me to fully and effectively prepare for that.  What little time I had left was mostly spent on eating and sleeping.  I have found the odd spare hour here and there to hang out and as they say “chill”, but these have been few and far between and normally I’ve found myself being far too tired to really do anything!

It’s been four years since I last had a normal semester that has been unaffected by personal troubles and this resulted in me forgetting how much work is involved in the studying of Law (either that or I’m simply more studious than I’ve been previously).  I remember there being endless reading and analysing statutes and cases, but not this much.  It really has taken me by surprise.  Contract and Delict have been slow to get started as they’re first year modules, but the pace is beginning to pick up.  In Commercial we hit the ground running with several hours of reading after the first lecture.

Following the death earlier this year of the Law School’s normal Delict tutor, they were left without a lecturer for their Delict module.  The solution to this has left a novel teaching approach, which to date I have found quite useful.  Instead of lectures taking place in the traditional lecture theatre setting, they are being delivered by a lecturer from an entirely different University elsewhere in Scotland by way of downloadable podcast.

I can see many advantages (and some disadvantages) to such a method, but will be reserving my final judgement until the end of the semester once the course is complete and the exam results are out.  One of the more immediate benefits I have found is that my lecture notes are far more detailed.  Being able to pause, rewind and skip through parts of the lecture has meant that I have not found myself mid flow in taking notes down about something only to forget what I’m writing as I try to, at the same time, focus on what the lecturer continues to say.  Instead, I have been able to pause and rewind the lecture to ensure that my notes are full and accurate.  How much benefit this will have come exam time is yet to be seen.  Will it improve my grades?  Will it assist my study?  Will I simply end up with too many notes and waste time cutting them down to allow me to study?  Only time will tell the answers to these questions.

It hasn’t all gone smoothly with these podcast lectures.  We were advised at our one and only traditional style lecture for Delict that the podcasts were available on the University’s online learning environment.  However, not one person could find them:  they had gone missing.  They were eventually found and were available by the following day, which meant there was not too much of an issue.  There are the odd downsides to the use of technology.

With the Delict lectures being by podcast it has created a real need to be organised.  All the lectures for the entire module are complete and can be listened to at our leisure.  It has resulted in placing the emphasis on students to ensure their own leisure is at a pace that ensures they are keeping up and are ready for the written assignment, seminars and ultimately the exam.  With there being no physical timetabled lectures ensuring that you keep the correct pace for the module it will be particularly easy to fall behind.  However, I only really see this being a problem for those who are disorganised (in which case it probably won’t only be the Delict lectures that they fall behind with) and those that wouldn’t normally turn up to lectures anyway.

In saying all of the above I do not want to come across as if I am bored or simply whinging!  I’m really enjoying being back at it.  In fact, I’m enjoying it so much that I nearly missed my stop on the train due to being so engrossed in the ruling of Sheriff Principal Risk QC in the case of Alexandra v Murphy.

I’ve decided that I’m going to really focus over the next three years.  I’ve done the whole “student experience” and now it’s time to settle down and focus on why I’m here:  to get a degree in Law and begin the path towards a legal career.  Don’t get me wrong, I will take time away from the books to enjoy myself – I need it after a few pretty rough years.  It has really hit home though that had I not had the run of bad luck with my health that I would have probably been starting my Diploma this time next year!  However, I just have to remind myself that it was out of my control and that there is not one thing that I could have done about that!

I am looking forward to many more weeks of fun, tears and stress!

Personal, University

It’s good to be back

Well after what has effectively been a two year break from full-time education I have returned to University this week.  My first classes were timetabled for today and it meant an early start (which I’m not used to).  I was up and out of the house by 7:30 (my normal time for getting up when I was working for the energy supply company was 9:15!).  It’s going to take a bit of time I think to get back into a “normal” day rather than the life of a permanent backshift worker!

From my experience today I think I will be leaving earlier as I only just made it to the lecture on time this morning.  The train was 5 minutes late then I forgot to factor in the fact that the bus route to Campus passes a rather large secondary school, so in the run-up to 9am the road is very congested with the “school run” folk dropping people off at school.

It is possible to walk to the University from the train station, but it takes about 40 minutes and when you arrive in Stirling 30 minutes before your lecture you simply don’t have time to walk it.  Leaving for the earlier train (07:35 rather than 08:05) will mean I won’t have the traffic problems and risk missing the last bus that will get me onto campus on time in the event that the train is a bit later than it was today.  It will also mean that I can save myself some money and walk it to Campus (with the added bonus of some free exercise).

The two lectures I had today were okay, the usual “housekeeping” stuff relating to the module and then some time spent on formation of a contract and inthe second lecture the law of agency was the topic of discussion (both topics I know inside out – it’s the latter stuff in Contract law that gets me frustrated – ironically including frustration of a contract).

There was some confusion which provided a bit of entertainment during my second lecture today.  A group of about 7 or 8 first years clearly had not read everything properly and turned up for a second year module.  The Law School had helpfully sent out an information leaflet to all undergraduate law students with the details of each module running this semester (basic information such as who the module co-ordinator is, the date of the first lecture and seminar and such like).  This group of first year students clearly hadn’t read the leaflet properly and thought they had to attend all the lectures on the list (how they thought they were going to successfully study and pass 12 modules in one semester I doubt I’ll ever know).

I had forgotten the amount of work involved!  I remember there being a lot of reading and research required, but not this much.  Nonetheless I absolutely love being back and can’t wait to get stuck in to all this reading I have to do!

Personal, Scots Law, University

New Academic Year

I now know what my entire degree programme is going to consist of when I return to University in September.  Next year I have the fun of Contract Law (my arch nemesis), Delict (Tort for you English lot) and Commercial Law I in the first Semester.  The second semester brings with it the joys of Family Law, Criminal Law and Trusts and Successions.

I’ve discovered I’ll also be studying an entire module on Competition Law (oh how I’m looking forward to that; not) and I have the option to study a module on Forensic Psychology (that could be very interesting indeed).

I am quite looking forward to getting back into full time study in September.  However, I am also anxious as I’ll have been out of full time study for two years (and haven’t really done any study at all for one year) by the time I return.

Personal, University

Exciting News

I’ve been rather quiet of late, but I have been really busy with work.  However, I have been busy hatching a plan with regards to my degree.

A friend of mine suggested applying to a University closer to home to see if they would accept me directly into second year in order to finish my degree closer to home given all the health problems I’ve suffered over the last few years.  This friend happened to work in the Undergraduate Admissions department of a University which would fit those criteria nicely.  So, he went about finding out how possible that would be and gave me the names and numbers of the people in the know to contact.

I contacted these people in the know who said it would be possible and the fact that the UCAS deadline had already passed wouldn’t be too much of an issue as my application was for second year entry.  So, I sought references for the University, got a reference from work and got a UCAS application in within a few days of having that conversation.

Today, I received a phone call from this University who advised me that they want to make me an offer, but can’t until their “Deviant Timetable Committee” has met to agree to my proposed timetable.  Although I’ll be second year, due to differences in teaching schedules between this University and Anytown University my first year at the new University (i.e. Second Year) will be made up of modules from First and Second Year.

Having spoken to my friend, who no longer works for the Undergraduate Admissions Office (temp job) I have been informed that 99% of the time this is just a pointless exercise (and because they’ve actually phoned to tell me this) and that I should receive a formal offer in the post and through UCAS shortly after the “Deviant Timetable Committee” has met (who are due to meet on 22 March 2010).

There are many advantages to this.  Firstly, I’ll be living at home meaning my debt will be far smaller than had I continued to study away from home.  Secondly, I’ll avoid having to do a part-time year via Distance Learning and finally I’ll graduate 2 years ahead of when I would have had I continued studying at Anytown University.  I suppose one could add to that having family close by means that if things do start to suffer health wise I have a much better support network available.

I know that SAAS do fund the same year twice if it is a full year and is on medical grounds.  I’m hoping that because my application to study at another University was based on medical grounds will mean that they’ll fund the full three years that I’m studying there.  If not, I am in a position to get the money to pay fees for the 2010/2011 academic year.

So, yes, all very exciting (for me at least)

University

Doubts

Recently I have been having some doubts about my decision not to continue with Law.  Thankfully I only suspended my course rather than withdrawing from it (I had intended on withdrawing, but right at the last minute decided to tick “suspend” rather than “withdraw” on the form), so at least if I do decided that it was the wrong decision I can still go back!

The doubts really started to creep in today.  My mum is currently serving as a Juror and she was too scared to go to Court on her own today, so I accompanied her and went in and sat in on the Summary Court (no jury so no chance of me accidentally being in the same court room as my mum).  I was sitting watching the Solicitor’s do their stuff and began to think if I had made the right decision regarding university.  I know that taking a year out was the right thing – gives me a chance to re-focus and get better, but do I actually want to change course or were my health issues having too much of an impact upon my thoughts?  I’m not so sure.

Last week, while walking the dog, I was thinking that if I studied Social Work and began working as a Social Worker I would no doubt find myself in court giving evidence on numerous occasions.  I couldn’t help think that I might stand in the witness box regretting my decision not to give Contract Law a final go and how I could have maybe been on the other side of the witness box – the one asking the questions!

So, I’m giving a lot of thought about whether to apply through UCAS for social work starting 2010 or whether to go back in 2010 and give Contract Law one final bash.

University

Telephone Numbers

Are you a student in Scotland?  Rely on your mobile phone to make all your phone calls?  Need to speak to SAAS or the Student Loans Company?  Well the following two telephone numbers will significantly reduce the cost of these calls as they are local “01” numbers rather than “0845” numbers, which often cost more from mobiles.

SAAS Customer Services – 0131 476 3121
Student Loans Company (General Enquiries) – 0141 243 3900

This has been a public service announcement from Ramblings of a Scottish Student

Personal, University

What next? (Part 2: The Decision)

I have taken a big decision:  I am giving up the Law (at least for just now).

My plan is to move back to my parents’ house and have a year out from university, working full time.  The aim is to get a job that will allow me to be in a financial position to begin studying full time again in September 2010.  Those of you following me on Twitter may have noticed a mention of UCAS several hours before this post went up, so I am sure that you already had guessed that my future lay elsewhere.  Now you are about to find out exactly where I hope that future lies.

I have decided to try and get into a Social Work degree for September 2010.  What does this mean for the blog?  Well I will endeavour to keep blogging and commenting on key political and legal issues from Scotland, the UK and around the world.  Then, come September 2010 should I get into Social Work there will be the student dimension added back in as I record my experiences as a Student Social Worker.

As for the Law, I’m not sure if I will ever return to it.  I may do at sometime in the future; I never rule anything out completely.  Maybe, being a Lawyer is not for me and that I’m just to be content with my interest in the Law.  The time I have spent studying it has been an amazing experience and I have a pretty good grasp of the legal system and the complexity of legal decision making:  something which I am sure I would never have been able to truly understand without having spent this time studying Law.