Tuesday, 3 April 2012

An example of a week’s worth of homework

Last week I discussed which subjects I was following and I would like to complement that with an example of my weekly requirements. On Wednesday there is a lecture in the afternoon lasting two hours. On Friday there is a seminar lasting for two hours. Of course both need to be heavily prepared.

One starts on Monday by checking the course description and scrolling down to the relevant week. There you can read a small introduction to this week’s subject and what material is prescribed. In this case the subject is the overlap of finable and punishable offences. Because of the principle of una via, the government has to select either to fine or to punish by criminal law; once it has done one, it is excluded from doing the other.

Prescribed to read are two chapters from the book, about 80 pages in total. Assuming one reads a page every 6 minutes (which is still quite fast when you consider that you need to keep making notes and should understand everything you are reading), this alone will take 8 hours. One is also to become familiar with specific laws, in this case 11 pages, and read the required jurisprudence, in this case another 61 pages. Jurisprudence is special because you can usually suffice by reading either the provided summary or an included annotation, though during the test you need to have highlighted where the Court itself has made its decision if you want to be able to quote it quickly and efficiently. It is not strange if this process takes another 8 hours, but with skimming it can take as little as two or three.

At Wednesday’s lecture the reading material and some of the jurisprudence is explained in more detail. Depending on the speaker, this can be incredibly illuminating or incredibly pointless. In this case the speaker was very informative but lacked real structure in their lecture making it difficult to make accurate notes. Their slides contained handy summaries though, so that combined with his explanations the lecture was quite useful.

After the lecture, it is time to prepare for the seminar. For this week we had to answer seven questions about the literature, like ‘Is it possible to impose community service for committing an economical offence?’. Having read the material, most questions just require you to look up the details while you already know the general question. For the above question, the literature explained that with a literal explanation of the law, it should not be allowed, but that the courts have allowed it anyway. All that had to be done knowing that, is to find the page it was explained on to quote the relevant decision. Finally there were two case studies, with nine in-depth questions that take a little longer to answer.
All in all, this homework takes about 20 hours to complete, which makes sense since you should be taking two or three of them each semester.

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