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  • The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom is the final court of appeal in the UK for civil cases, and for criminal cases from England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) is the court of final appeal for the UK overseas territories and Crown dependencies.
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Inside the UK Supreme Court: Its Role, Its Work, and Cases that Affect Us All

Explore the role of the UK Supreme Court, hear from its Justices and staff, and learn about some of the Court’s landmark rulings.

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Inside the UK Supreme Court: Its Role, Its Work, and Cases that Affect Us All
  • Duration

    2 weeks
  • Weekly study

    4 hours
  • 100% online

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Delve into the UK Supreme Court and its inner workings

If you’d like to learn more about the UK Supreme Court, what it does, and what it’s like to work there, then this Royal Holloway course, produced in collaboration with the Supreme Court, is for you.

Over the two weeks of the course, you’ll get to explore the current workings and history of the UK Supreme Court and wider aspects of the law. You’ll also get to take a closer look at routes into the legal profession.

Whether you want to practice law or just understand it as a citizen, you’ll gain a fascinating insight into this key institution’s legal role.

Compare Courts from across the globe

This course starts with an introduction to the functions and history of the UK Supreme Court, before moving onto the role of its Justices as members of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

You will also discover how the UK Supreme Court works in relation to the European Court of Human Rights and how it compares to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Step into the shoes of a Justice

After you’ve got a clearer idea of how the UK Supreme Court is structured and how it operates, you’ll explore six landmark cases, covering a wide range of legal issues, from human rights and employment law to public law and criminal law.

Once you’ve heard the background to each case and a selection of the arguments made in Court, you can then vote on what you would have ruled as a Justice before you discover the outcome of the case.

Learn from Justices, Judicial Assistants, and academic experts

On this course, you’ll be learning from academic experts from Royal Holloway, as well as hearing from a wide range of people who work at the Court, from Justices and Judicial Assistants to members of the Executive team.

Syllabus

  • Week 1

    What is the Supreme Court?

    • Introduction

      An introduction to 'Inside the UK Supreme Court' and look ahead to the topics we are exploring this week.

    • What is the UK Supreme Court?

      In this activity we explore the role, history and function of the Court in relation to the UK's legal systems.

    • Working at the Supreme Court, Part One

      In this activity we are going to hear what it is like to work at the Supreme Court.

    • Landmark Cases: Lee v Ashers Bakery (2018) UKSC 49

      Lee v Ashers Bakery was a landmark human rights case.

    • Landmark Cases: R v Jogee (Appellant) (2016) UKSC 8

      R v Jogee is a landmark criminal law case.

    • Landmark Cases: AXA v Lord Advocate (2011) UKSC 46

      AXA v Lord Advocate is a landmark devolution case.

    • Conclusion

      In this activity we reflect on what we have learnt this week.

  • Week 2

    International Aspects and Comparisons

    • Introduction

      An introduction to the topics to be discussed in week two of *Inside the UK Supreme Court*.

    • International Contexts and Comparisons

      In this activity we examine how the Court and the JCPC compare to and interact with other courts around the world.

    • Working at the Supreme Court, Part Two

      In this activity we learn more about being a Supreme Court Justice, hear from the Court's Librarian, and discover what it is like to appear before the Court as an advocate.

    • Landmark Cases: R (Unison) v Lord Chancellor (2017) UKSC 51

      In this activity we explore the landmark case of R (Unison) v Lord Chancellor and its landmark ruling in relation to employment and constitutional law concerning access to justice.

    • Landmark Cases: R (Nicklinson) v Ministry of Justice (2014) UKSC 38

      R (Nicklinson) v Ministry of Justice is an example of a case where the Supreme Court has been asked to make a decision about a difficult and sensitive subject.

    • Landmark Cases: Uber BV and others v Aslam and others (2021) UKSC 5

      In this activity we explore the significance of the Uber case in relation to employment law and the definition of a worker.

    • Conclusion

      In this activity we reflect on what we have learnt this week and across the course.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and learn at your own pace. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

Learning on this course

You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explore the role, inner workings and history of the UK Supreme Court, and different career paths into the law.
  • Identify the Courts role in relation to the Commonwealth and Europe.
  • Compare the UK Supreme Court with the United States Supreme Court.
  • Investigate the various roles that make up the Supreme Court, from Justices and Judicial Assistants to the Registrar and Executive team.
  • Debate and evaluate recent cases heard by the Supreme Court.

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone considering a career in law, as well as those interested in learning more about the law.

Who will you learn with?

Dr Matthew Smith, Senior Lecturer in Public Humanities, Royal Holloway, University of London

Dr David Yuratich, Lecturer in Law, Royal Holloway, University of London

Who developed the course?

Royal Holloway, University of London

Queen Victoria presided over the grand opening of Royal Holloway in 1886. Since then the College has continued to grow in size and status to become one of the top research-led institutions in the UK.

The Supreme Court of The United Kingdom

The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom is the final court of appeal in the UK for civil cases, and for criminal cases from England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Supreme Court is independent and hears cases of the greatest public importance affecting the whole population.

Judicial Committee of The Privy Council

The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) is the court of final appeal for the UK overseas territories and Crown dependencies. It also serves those Commonwealth countries that have retained the appeal to Her Majesty in Council or, in the case of republics, to the Judicial Committee.

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