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Students’ perceptions of assessed seminar performance in law

Laura Anne Bliss (Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, UK)

Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning

ISSN: 2042-3896

Article publication date: 3 June 2019

Issue publication date: 20 January 2020




The purpose of this paper is to examine assessed seminars in law modules across first-, second- and third-year students at a higher education academy in Lancashire (England). This form of assessment is essentially a 1 h tutorial, where students are given marks for their oral contribution to class discussions. Assessment is a feature in all degree programmes conducted throughout higher education institutions. Recently, a move has been made from traditional examinations and coursework to assess students learning, to more inclusive forms of assessment following the changing nature of those entering higher education.


Using a quantitative survey, participants were asked to answer ten questions on their perceptions of assessed seminars as a form of assessment. To enhance the findings, interviews also took place with members of staff who had experience in teaching both assessed and non-assessed seminars.


This research found that although some students were daunted by assessed seminars, over the course of three years, their key legal skills had improved. Key skills enhanced through assessed seminars include communication-based skills and public speaking, whilst also being a positive form of assessment that maintains student retention.

Research limitations/implications

This is a small-scale research project, completed in the fulfilment of the authors PgCert. However, it does provide a template for other legal institutions to follow.


With a growing concern across the higher education sector around student retention, assessed seminars are proven to be a form of assessment that ensures student attendance, whilst enhancing skills ready for the workplace.



The data supporting the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.


Bliss, L.A. (2020), "Students’ perceptions of assessed seminar performance in law", Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, Vol. 10 No. 1, pp. 1-15.



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