Law of Evidence


This module examines the legal rules governing the relevance, admissibility and sufficiency of evidence in civil and criminal proceedings in the courts of law in Scotland.


The aim of this Module is to examine critically the principles governing the relevance, admissibility and sufficiency of evidence in civil and criminal litigation.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module the student should be able to:

1.  Understand and apply the rules of evidence concerning relevance, admissibility, weight and sufficiency of evidence;

2.  Evaluate the legal concept of corroboration as applied in Scots Law

3.  Analyse and apply the legal concepts of competence and compellability of witnesses as applied in Scots Law

4.  Evaluate the legal concept of privileged evidence in Scots Law

5.  Demonstrate higher level legal writing and oral skills and apply legal skills and knowledge in a practical and/or theoretical context.

Indicative Content

1 Basic Concepts

Purpose, Relevance, admissibility, weight and sufficiency of evidence. Burdens and standards of proof, human rights issues

2 Requirements for proof

Presumptions, judicial knowledge, judicial admissions.

3 Types of evidence

Oral, documentary, real evidence, direct and circumstantial, primary and secondary evidence, the best evidence rule.

4 Corroboration

The common law in civil and criminal proceedings, The Moorov doctrine; admissions and confessions, corroboration by distress, dock and other identification, the Civil Evidence (Scotland) Act 1988.

5 Privilege and immunity

Self incrimination, Professional privilege; public interest immunity; confidentiality; without prejudice letters; witnesses and communications.

6 Competence and compellability of witnesses, character

Parties, accused, spouses, co-accused, children, vulnerable witnesses; persons of diminished physical/mental capacity. Accused persons, witnesses; similar fact evidence; Previous convictions, prior history and character.

7 Recovery and Preservation of Evidence

Improperly obtained evidence, warrants, urgency, searches, covert operations. Ss 13-20A Criminal Procedure (S) Act 1995 - police powers.

8 The Hearsay rule and exceptions

Civil and criminal rules, the Civil Evidence (Scotland) Act 1988, ss 259-262 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995; res gestae and de recenti statements.

9 Opinion + Expert Evidence/Evidence at the Trial or Proof

Expert and Opinion evidence Conduct of inquiry (examination in chief, cross- examination and re- examination), children and vulnerable witnesses.

Statement on Teaching, Learning and Assessment

The syllabus content is delivered by lectures. Tutorials are interactive exercises learning and applying advocacy skills and forensic techniques; much of this is inter-disciplinary with staff and students from across the University. The two units of assessment require engagement by the students with the literature, further literature research, for both the exam and peer engagement in a professional role play/debate format for the evidence law moot. Opportunities for students to practice their forensic skills will be provided in structured feedback week and feedback provided.

Teaching and Learning Work Loads

Total 200
Lecture 26
Tutorial/Seminar 13
Supervised Practical Activity 0
Unsupervised Practical Activity 0
Assessment 40
Independent 121

Guidance notes

Credit Value – The total value of SCQF credits for the module. 20 credits are the equivalent of 10 ECTS credits. A full-time student should normally register for 60 SCQF credits per semester.


We make every effort to ensure that the information on our website is accurate but it is possible that some changes may occur prior to the academic year of entry. The modules listed in this catalogue are offered subject to availability during academic year 2019/10 , and may be subject to change for future years.