Jim Murdoch, Professor of Public Law at the University of Glasgow, is to receive the fifth annual European Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Social Sciences and Humanities.
The award, overseen by the Centre for Teaching and Learning at the Central European University in Budapest, aims to promote excellence in teaching across the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). Professor Murdoch will be given the award and its accompanying €5,000 Diener Prize at the opening ceremony for the 2016-17 academic year in September.
Over the past 24 years, Professor Murdoch has developed his European Human Rights Project (EHRP), which is unique in Europe. The project is a group-based and peer-assessed course which replicates the experience of bringing a case to the European Court of Human Rights, or defending a case as the respondent government. It involves two teams of five students who are responsible for researching, preparing and presenting written and oral submissions, first to a chamber of three Supreme Court Justices in London and then a Grand Chamber of judges and senior registry staff in Strasbourg, which consists of judges and senior registry staff. The complex problem they tackle is based upon actual pending cases and domestic scenarios.
“Mooting is an established part of law teaching in many institutions, but this is not a competitive moot. This course is unique in Europe,” Professor Murdoch explained. “No team wins. Students submit an application, argue points of admissibility, and prepare and present pleadings on the merits. A further key element is the process of self-assessment. Consistently, students report that this process – unusual in that students are entrusted with producing an evidence-based set of recommendations concerning their grades – is as valuable to their learning and often far more challenging than the problem-based learning itself. Without fail, they report significant advantages in securing employment, and further, that the benefits of the learning and assessment styles remain with them well into their careers.”
The EHRP is only one of the innovative programmes Professor Murdoch has instituted in Glasgow, in line with his belief that it is vital that students correlate the ability to connect legal developments to societal needs through an appreciation of other social sciences. He has established study abroad and exchange opportunities for students to conduct comparative research, allowing them to familiarise themselves not only with other legal cultures but also with other languages and legal terminology in those languages.
Hs teaching has also been recognised at the University of Glasgow with a student teaching award.