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Teaching and Learning Showcase
Consumer Law: Real-world Applications and Communications
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Module Title:

Consumer Law

Module Coordinator:

Dr Cliona Kelly

Module Code:

LAW30360

Target Audience:

35 – 50 Third / Fourth Year Undergrad Students
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background:

Lawyers have a reputation for using complex and archaic language, and it is often a challenge for law students to present their research in language which is accessible to others. In an area like Consumer Law it is particularly important that consumers’ rights can be presented in plain, understandable language. One of the aims of this module is to encourage students to think about how they communicate complex legal rules to the wider audience. This was done through two principal methods: the design of a poster which informs consumers of their rights on a particular topic, and the curation of a Twitter account. 

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goals:

The aims of this exercise were:

  • to encourage students to consider “real life” problems which they had encountered as consumers, and to research their legal rights in that situation
  • to consider how best to help others who might encounter a similar situation in the future
  • to encourage students to use plain English and to consider how to communicate ideas and research to a wider audience
  • to encourage students to focus on the main points in their research
  • to give some practical experience of poster design and handling a twitter account
  • to provide practical advice on consumer law to students other than those in the class itself
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The Innovative Approach:

(1) Poster Design
Students were asked to describe a real life problem they had encountered as consumers. Examples included cancelled airflights, problems with car rental companies, buying faulty goods, delays in delivery of online purchases and problems with mobile phone and internet companies. Students received both tutor and peer feedback on the problem they had set out.

Students then had to research the “solution” to their problem – both their legal rights and the best means of enforcing those rights. However, rather than writing the answer in a traditional essay, students were asked to design a poster which would help other consumers in a similar situation.

Two poster workshops were held – one in which a graphic designer came in to the class to talk about visual communication techniques, and help students begin their poster layout, and another in which students brought in draft posters and received peer and tutor feedback. All posters were graded as part of the assessment for the module. In addition, the best 8 posters were professionally printed (with help from the School Teaching Fund) and displayed in the foyer of the Sutherland School of Law.

(2) Using a Twitter Account
Each week a team of 2 or 3 students would “curate” the class’s Twitter account, @UCDConsumerLaw. Although this was not assessed, students were very enthusiastic about running the account and gaining some experience of this form of social media. This also encouraged students to research which links and sources to “retweet” and to keep up to date with recent developments in this area.

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Results:

The students who completed this module all produced high standard posters, 8 of which were professionally printed and displayed in the Law School foyer.  Students found the exercise challenging but useful, and several were happy to show their creative sides! 

Posters 1 and 2

Posters 3 to 9

In addition, students found the Twitter exercise useful, and admitted that before then they hadn’t known how to use Twitter and had not realised its potential as a means of keeping up to date with legal developments. 

@UCDConsumerLaw