LAW10360 General Introduction to the Irish Legal System

Academic Year 2020/2021

General Introduction to the Irish Legal System (GIILS) acts as a critical introduction for students to the Irish legal system. This module explores the sources of law in the Irish legal system, the introduction and passage of legislation; law reform; the structure of the Irish courts system both at first instance and on appeal; the role of the courts in interpreting and applying law; the role of solicitors, barristers and judges in the Irish legal system; and access to justice in Ireland.

The aims of this module are: 1. To provide students with a core understanding of the rules and principles that underpin the Irish legal system; 2. To appreciate the hierarchy of legal sources and to identify forms and types of legal rules; 3. To outline how, in particular, the system of law developed and is developing; 4. To understand the hierarchy of courts; 5. To appreciate how to interpret statutes and the extent to which courts are bound by their own previous decisions. 6. The role of law in/with society, and role played by legislators, solicitors, barristers and judges in the Irish legal system.

Please note: Penultimate and final year Law students are not permitted to register to this module as their in programme or Horizons elective.

Non-BCL and BBL Students in the final year of their degree: Be advised should a student have to re-sit an assessment/examination or where an IX grade is granted, this resit or IX assessment/examination will occur in December of the following academic year and will impact on graduation date.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

At the end of this module, a successful student will be able to:
a) Demonstrate their knowledge of the Irish legal system and the importance of key concepts (such as the rule of law) to the Irish legal system;
b) Understand the structure of the Irish court system;
c) Understand the importance attached by Irish courts to their previous decisions;
d) Evaluate the effectiveness of the Oireachtas as a law making institution;
e) Appreciate the diverse role of solicitors, barristers and judges in the Irish legal system;
f) Interpret primary legal materials and research legal problems;
g) Express their opinions and ideas in an appropriately legal manner;
h) Appreciate and critically evaluate the relationship between law and society in specified areas.

Indicative Module Content:

The module is taught by means of three over-arching themes.

*N.B: There may be some fluidity with topic focus and coverage, therefore the information below is indicative.

Theme One: Courts, Lawyers & Administrative Oversight explores how courts are organised in Ireland (jurisdiction), as well as examining the role played by solicitors and barristers within the Irish legal system. It is also important for students to have knowledge of the Irish administrative state, and how State administration can impact upon rights and obligations of persons in Ireland.

Theme Two: Making, Interpreting & Reflecting on Law introduces students to the sources and hierarchies of laws in the Irish legal system. Attention will be paid to legislation as a form of law, and the system of common law which exists in Ireland. In this part of the course, students will reflect on why law as a system exists and will explore the concept of the rule of law.

Theme Three: Reforming law and international law will explain how Irish law does not operate in a vacuum. Formal and informal law reform processes in Ireland will be explored. The external impact of public international law, and European Union law will also be examined.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This module is lecture based, with student engagement and interaction required throughout lectures.

Students will be directed to relevant reading in lecture reading lists. PowerPoints and/or lecture outlines will be available to students prior to each lecture.

Approaches to teaching and learning will differ depending on the lecturer delivering the content, but will include: reflective learning, case-law based learning and critical thinking approaches to the Irish legal system. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
LAW10450 - Law and Courts

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Assignment: 1,000 word assignment Week 6 n/a Graded No


Examination: Written Exam (1 hour) 1 hour End of Trimester Exam No Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn Yes - 1 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment
• Self-assessment activities

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Should students require feedback on their learning for this module, then students are encouraged to self-assess their learning, and seek clarification from the relevant lecturer who delivered that topic, by arranging to meet the lecturer during office hours. Group class feedback, along with provisional grades, will be available to students within twenty working days after the submission of assignments. Group class feedback will be available on the examination and available to students on the day/date their provisional results for this module are released by the University. This usually occurs in early June of the academic year. Individual feedback on the assignment and/or the examination will be available once grades are confirmed, and students follow UCD School of Law requirements for requesting viewing of their assignment and/or examination script. This usually occurs in June/July of the relevant academic year.

The core textbooks for this module are: Tanya Ni Mhuirthle, Catherine O’Sullivan and Liam Thornton, Fundamentals of the Irish Legal System: Law, Policy and Politics (Roundhall 2016) and Raymond Byrne, Paul McCutcheon, Claire Bruton and Gerard Coffey, Byrne and McCutcheon on the Irish Legal System (6th edition, Bloomsbury, 2014).

In addition, students will be referred to relevant legislation, case-law, other textbooks and journal articles in week to week reading lists.
Name Role
Professor Imelda Maher Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.

Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31 Mon 11:00 - 12:50 Face to Face