Work streams

Centre for Innovation and Research in Legal Education

Staff discussing research in boardroom around a table

Expert knowledge, pedagogy and (legal) machine learning

This work-stream aims to advance pedagogic debates about whether students are digitally native or digitally literate in the context of the incorporation of tech in the classroom to more fundamental questions about the skills, attributes, critical thinking approaches and expertise that is required within university (legal) study. It resonates with work on the professions (SommerladLoughrey), existing and planned pedagogic scholarship (Newbery-Jones, Wallace), and connects with curriculum development within the School as well as wider international networks.


The School of Law is a global law school, producing research that is world class in quality and impact, engaged with leading universities, scholars and policy makers from around the world, and offering educational programmes that attract high quality international students and attracting exceptional scholars to work here and to visit. However, internationalisation is not only, or even mostly, about student recruitment. It requires the development of our curriculum, co-curricular activities and student support in ways which do not assume a ‘norm’ of a UK educated student, based in the UK and aspiring to work in the UK. It also requires that those ‘home’ students have a real sense of working in an international environment, through the curriculum, through engaging with the School community, and through taking advantage of study abroad and summer school opportunities.

CIRLE’s work within the field of internationalisation currently addresses a wide range of these concerns: questions around the Europeanisation, internationalisation and decolonialisation of the curriculum (Wallace, Mukherjee); issues surrounding the experience and engagement of international students (O’Connor); questions about the expectations and needs of international applicants and students in a global legal education environment (Martin Clement) and consideration of the academic experience of students studying abroad (Wallace). Further work in development may consider issues around inclusive pedagogy and the links between legal study and language/discourse.

Transitions, community and university exit

This is a large work-stream that draws on existing work on student transitions (Peake, Newbery-Jones, Cairns), access to HE and the Professions (Francis, Sommerlad, Fox), issues of resilience and student engagement (Bleasdale), strategic concerns around retention and formal continuation at points in the University life course (Taylor, Yeomans, Jones) and progress to postgraduate study (Brown). It has the potential to build on the work being undertaken by the Laidlaw Scholar within CIRLE (2018-20).

It resonates with core University concerns about Student Transitions and the potential challenges arising from retention issues. It aims to engage with a developing understanding about the importance of inclusive education, including matters affecting disabled students (Keeling), and a recognition that HE requires learning and teaching strategies that recognise a diverse cohort mix, with a broad range of socio-cultural and educational routes to study at University (Peake, Fox). There are strong connections with the internationalisation agenda here. It seeks to draw on insights from existing literature about the perception of University as ‘not for the likes of me’ and the subsequent non-engagement that may follow.

Retention has traditionally been conceived in terms of retaining students on the enrolment register at the key points of HESA return. However, the work-stream seeks to explore whether this is an unnecessarily narrow conception of non-continuation. It aims to develop a broader conception of University exit. By this we mean,

  • exit in terms of formal non-continuation
  • exit from the School’s community, failing to make the most of the opportunities available either in the core or co curriculum, with the risk of further…
  • ...exit from achievement of academic potential
  • ...exit from the achievement of career potential.

This work stream seeks to address gaps in the literature on the intersection of issues of retention, engagement and future life chances.