Educating for Uncertainty: Education in Law and Criminal Justice in an Uncertain World

We are delighted to invite bookings for a one-day symposium to mark the establishment of the Centre for Innovation and Research in Legal Education (CIRLE), within the School of Law.

CIRLE aims to advance understandings of education and the professions in law and criminal justice, through evidence-based teaching innovation and high quality and impactful research. The School draws on research strength in the legal professions and cross-School expertise in education and pedagogic scholarship and innovation.

This symposium is designed to address key contemporary questions in legal education, criminal justice education and the professional sectors of both fields. The over-arching theme is 'Educating for Uncertainty', with the sub-themes of Personal Uncertainty, Global/Political Uncertainty and Professional/Workplace Uncertainties.

We are delighted to announce that the keynote speaker will be Professor Margaret Thornton (Australian National University). Other confirmed speakers include Professor Richard Roe (Georgetown Law), Dr Mary Corcoran (Keele University) and Dr Sarah Kingston (Lancaster University).

Our themes

Higher education providers in general, and in law and criminal justice in particular, are undergoing significant transformations which raise questions for the structure of our educational programmes, how and why we teach and the challenges that our students face during their studies and as they seek to enter the professional workplace. Within Law, changes to the qualification frameworks for solicitors and barristers are challenging Law Schools to re-think their provision from first principles. In Criminal Justice, there are similar questions about how closely higher education should align itself to the graduate police qualification frameworks. What are the central changes taking place in both of these professional contexts (for example, artificial intelligence, flexible working, workplace pressures in terms of consumer expectation, or public sector resourcing), what is the relationship to the educational context and how do we respond to them?

These sector and discipline-specific uncertainties are taking place within wider uncertainties in the global, political environment. Brexit, of course, looms large as does the rise of populist political movements in a variety of international contexts and growing recognition of the risks of environmental harm. Arguably, the professions and universities have responsibilities to prepare graduates equipped to deal with these challenges. More recently, the role of universities as spaces for addressing challenging political viewpoints has become a key focus of UK government concern and both Law and Criminal Justice have direct disciplinary relevance to these debates.  What is the relationship between the core and co-curriculum, particularly if there are examples of clinical or experiential learning?

Alongside these uncertainties, there has been growing recognition both within higher education and in public and professional policy debates about the pressures that individuals face. There is increasing awareness of the problems of mental health amongst professional communities in law and criminal justice, and related concerns about how students are supported. More broadly, we might wish to reflect on the uncertainty that might be experienced by students as a result of their social, cultural, economic and educational background. Are there particular challenges in law and criminal justice and how do we design our pedagogic and pastoral responses? What is the relevance of the relationship of the graduate sector to the uncertainty experienced while at University?


The symposium will be free to attend for those with accepted papers; a registration fee of £30 for others will be charged to contribute towards event catering costs. Speakers are encouraged to draw on their own funding, but should contact the organisers in the case of real financial difficulty.

Registrations for other attendees is open until 5pm, Wednesday 2 May 2018 (book below). Places will be limited due to space constraints. A limited number of bursaries will be available for students who would like to attend the symposium – please contact Sarah Humphreys at for more information and an application form.

The Symposium is scheduled to begin at 10.00 in Leeds and will include lunch and a drinks reception to conclude the event and celebrate the establishment of CIRLE.

Centre directors

Professor Andrew Francis –

Dr Chloe Wallace –

Organisational contact

Sarah Humphreys –

Location details

School of Law
Liberty Building
University of Leeds

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