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Durham University

School of Education

Research Projects

Publication details

Pattinson, Shaun D. & Kind, Vanessa (2017). Using a Moot to Develop Students’ Understanding of Human Cloning and Statutory Interpretation. Medical Law International 17(3): 111-133.

Author(s) from Durham


This article reports and analyses the method and findings from a 3-year interdisciplinary project investigating how the medium of law can support understanding of socio-scientific issues. Law represents one of the most important means by which society decides and communicates its values. Activities mirroring legal processes therefore have significant potential to inform, inspire and involve school students in exploring the conceptual, social and ethical issues relating to developments in biomedical science. This article focusses on an intervention-style study in which UK-based 16- to 17-year-old students role played a Supreme Court moot, developed by modifying a domestic appeal case concerned with whether the contemporary legislation covered the creation of cloned human embryos. We draw attention to how the science of cloning has been slightly misunderstood by the courts and in science materials provided to UK school students. We argue that moot-centred engagement activities offer great potential for science communication among post-16 students and, despite the limitations of the judicial process for addressing complex socio-scientific issues, such role plays aid development of scientific and sociolegal understanding, as well as enhancing students’ self-confidence and argumentation skills.

School of Education