Original Research

Bachelor of Laws (LLB) students’ views of their literacy practices: Implications for support in a time of change

Bongi Bangeni, Lesley Greenbaum
Reading & Writing | Vol 10, No 1 | a248 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/rw.v10i1.248 | © 2019 Bongi Bangeni, Lesley Greenbaum | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 24 May 2019 | Published: 26 September 2019

About the author(s)

Bongi Bangeni, Academic Development Programme, Centre for Higher Education Development, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Lesley Greenbaum, Department of Private Law, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa


Background: From 2020, the Law faculty has decided to discontinue the five-year Extended Curriculum Programme (ECP) stream within the Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree for a variety of reasons, including students’ perceptions of stigma, the poor throughput rate of this stream and the identified need to extend academic support to more students in the mainstream class.

Objectives: This article argues that we need to gain insight into the struggles experienced by novice writers on the ECP to inform the nature of support that will need to be provided to LLB students going forward. We thus sought to explore the nature of the challenges experienced by two sets of first-year LLB ECP students with acquiring legal writing practices, namely students from high school and postgraduate students with degrees from other faculties.

Method: Two semi-structured interviews on students’ perceptions of their challenges experienced with legal writing were conducted with 12 participants.

Results: Students’ struggles with legal writing could be traced to difficulties with engaging appropriately with legal concepts and sources, reading effectively and accommodating the discipline’s valuing of conciseness in presenting arguments. We also show how students’ English additional language status and prior degrees inform these struggles.

Conclusion: The article shows the value of looking to ECP students’ challenges with literacy practices (legal writing) in their first year to inform support for all first-year LLB students.


Extended Curriculum Programme; student perceptions; reading and writing; access; academic support.


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