Law Teacher of the Year 2014
Luke Mason, of Surrey University has been named Law Teacher of the Year 2014. He was presented with the coveted national teaching award, sponsored by Oxford University Press, on 28 February 2014.
The presentation was made at an award lunch attended by all six shortlisted candidates, their guests, the judging panel, outgoing Law Teacher of the Year Odette Hutchinson of Aston University, as well as OUP staff.
Luke is an associate lecturer with teaching and research interests in jurisprudence, EU, property and labour law. Luke was presented with the award and £3,000 prize money. Luke admitted he was astonished to win the award, and paid tribute to the other finalists, he also added:
"There is something about acquiring legal learning that is a privilege, as a teacher you then have the additional privilege to communicate that knowledge. I am so grateful for this award's existence, for drawing attention to the fantastic and valuable thing it is to be a law teacher."
The announcement comes at the end of a rigorous and demanding judging process spanning several months. It started with a record number of very high quality and well thought-through nominations drawn from institutions across the UK.
From that pool six candidates were shortlisted and went on to be assessed through campus visits conducted by the judging panel. These involved the observation and filming of a teaching session, interviews with the candidates, their students and heads of departments.
The student voice is a crucial part of the award and their feedback is an essential part of the evidence gathered. One requirement is the submission of a feedback video and we received some very creative efforts put together by students in support of their teacher.
"An indefinable spark"
The judging panel paid tribute to the creativity, inspiration, and quality seen in all the candidates. Julian Webb summed up the opinions of all the judges by saying
"being an excellent law teacher is the new normal for finalists of Law Teacher of the Year, as judges what we have to look for is an indefinable spark, almost an x factor, that will distinguish the winner from six incredible people."
Outgoing Law Teacher of the Year 2013, Odette Hutchinson spoke at the awards lunch about how she had felt collecting the award a year ago, and the positive impact winning had had on her in the last 12 months.
The other finalists were:
- Mark Davys, Keele University
- Mark Edwards, Sheffield Hallam University
- Kai Möller, LSE
- Lars Mosesson, Buckinghamshire New University
- Sarah Marie Nason, Bangor University
Meet the candidates
You can read more about each of the candidates below, and watch the short video to see them in action.
Mark Davys, Senior Teaching Fellow, Keele University –With his lectures said to carry ‘legendary’ status on campus, Mark’s popularity amongst his students was very apparent in his nomination. He is known for giving topics a unique twist, for instance using the format of Blind Date to reinforce the different characteristics of various legal and equitable interests. Mark champions the use of technology in his teaching, using podcasts to support students in more challenging topics. He received the Keele Award for Excellence in Learning and Teaching in 2013.
Mark Edwards, Principal Lecturer, Sheffield Hallam University – Mark has a strong reputation for showing concern towards his students, fuelling them with 'a feeling of wanting to work and wanting to succeed'. He has been known to regularly offer students help outside of normal working hours, and it is this dedication which has seen Mark win the Sheffield Hallam University Inspirational Teaching Award for each of the last three years. This feat means that he is not allowed to be nominated for the award again!
Luke Mason, Associate Lecturer, University of Surrey – Using the examples of films, songs, and professional European sportsmen, Luke received great praise from his student sponsors for his use of 'popular and engaging topics' to make difficult concepts more accessible for his students. He even encourages students to use drama in acting out extracts from plays to spark debate in class. Luke also redrafted the assessment guidelines in his law school to make them clearer for students, prompting student satisfaction levels to rise ‘dramatically’.
Kai Möller, Senior Lecturer, LSE – Kai encourages back-and-forth conversations to flow between his students and creating a 'welcoming and open atmosphere' to make all feel comfortable to participate. He draws inspiration for his research from his classroom experiences, with his article “Proportionality: Challenging the Critics” arising from his teaching. Kai has also published The Global Model of Constitutional Rights, although he’ll slip effortlessly into the role of devil’s advocate to argue against his own published views should a student adopt his arguments in seminars.
Lars Mosesson, Senior Lecturer, Buckinghamshire New University – Actively involved in volunteering, community legal advice, and student activities as Master of the Moots, Lars leads by example ‘on what a lawyer, and ultimately a good member of society, should be’. He seeks to ‘transform students’, recommending non-legal writing to improve students’ writing skills. His popularity is evidenced by his 2013 Most Inspiring Tutor award that accompanies a prize in 2012 for Excellence in Teaching and Learning from the Students’ Union. Lars regularly delivers papers at Association of Law Teachers conferences.
Sarah Marie Nason, Lecturer, Bangor University – Sarah is known at her university for ‘going the extra mile’ for her students and using her personal experiences to provide ‘bespoke personal advice’ on their careers. Her popularity is illustrated by her students nominating her - then eight months pregnant! - to carry the Olympic flame past Conwy Castle in 2012. Sarah teaches internationally, notably at the Nigerian Law School in Lagos, as well as presenting a paper on storytelling in jurisprudence at the biennial Applied Legal Storytelling Conference in Oregon.