Saint-Louis University - Bruxelles

DROI1125 - Criticism of information sources and seminar in human sciences

Credits : 6

Lecturer :
Teaching assistants :
Mode of delivery :
Face-to-face , first and second term, 30 hours of theory and 30 hours of exercises.

Language of instruction :
The language of instruction for the lecture and seminar is French. The use of texts and documents in Dutch and/or English is possible, depending on the subjects and themes chosen by the different holders.

The use of Dutch texts is mandatory in the Contemporary History seminar, which is reserved for students enrolled in the bilingual French-Dutch course.

Learning activities :
Learning outcomes :
The general objective of this teaching unit is to train students in and acquire the methods of university work.
I. With regard to training in the scientific approach
- Integrate the main basic approaches and tools of research in the human sciences;
- Acquire the foundations of the critical method and scientific ethics, allowing access to scientific knowledge; in particular acquire the ability to synthesize and compare different sources and the ability to report on them in a structured way (through the choice of a logical, clear and balanced plan).

- Implement approaches, methods and ethics through practical exercises and seminar work;
- Acquire the ability to read and understand scientific articles, regardless of the humanities discipline concerned;

II. With regard to the acquisition of a general culture and interdisciplinary knowledge:
- Acquiring critical knowledge with regard to general sources of information (such as the press, new media and the Internet in general, political speeches, surveys, statistics, etc.);
- Acquiring a critical approach to a subject and from a human science discipline (such as philosophy, sociology, psychology, criminology or history, etc.), through the seminar;

III. With regard to the acquisition of specifically legal knowledge:
- Acquiring critical knowledge with regard to the main sources of law;
- Acquiring the bases of the legal understanding of facts, the relationship between law and facts, and the law of evidence;
- Implementing these bases in concrete legal situations (casus);

IV. With regard to written and oral communication, in French
- Acquire the ability to communicate, in writing and orally, an idea and/or reasoning, particularly in the context of the seminar.

Prerequisites :

Co-requisites :

Course contents :
1. The Criticism of information sources course is first and foremost a practice-oriented method course on the implementation of the methods presented through legal questions, exercises and casus.

The learning of research principles and methods requires the theoretical definition of a number of theoretical concepts (categories of information sources, methods of documentary research and the construction of a research question, principles of criticism of information sources, legal foundations for the validity of information). However, this presentation is systematically illustrated in a practical, even participatory way. At the end of each theoretical part, a series of exercises are carried out during the lecture course, as a synthesis of the material.

Particular emphasis is placed on legal information and the processing of information in the courts, in view of the course's inclusion in a bachelor program in the law. However, it also covers political information, scientific information, journalistic information (and news items) and new media as a whole. During the courses, the student is systematically confronted with original sources of information (documents, research tools, websites, audiovisual sources, invited field actors, ...) which are then criticized and evaluated.

However, given its practical dimension, the course does not focus on distinguishing between the epistemological premises and scientific affiliations of each of the principles and methods presented. The aim is to give the student as much autonomy as possible to ask the right questions and cope with any environment and any questions he or she may encounter; to enable him or her to acquire genuine critical reflexes. It is therefore a question of practising an intensive intellectual "training", which must find its logical extension in all the work he will be called upon to do in his student career and beyond. In the first year of the law bachelor's degree, the student is already required to apply the principles and methods in the social sciences and humanities seminar, which extends the course within the same teaching unit, but also in the legal methodology seminar.

The course also covers the legal understanding of facts, the relationship between law and facts, the law of evidence and criticism of the sources of law. The student should therefore be aware of the importance of critical analysis in the legal field. To this end, the course is related as much as possible to the content of the course on sources and principles of law and to the content of the seminar on legal methodology.

2. The Humanities Seminar focuses on a humanities discipline, to be chosen between philosophy, history, psychology, sociology, criminology, political science or information and communication. The seminar should lead to personal work at a scientific level. The content of each seminar varies according to the holder and the discipline concerned

Planned learning activities and teaching methods :
The teaching unit consists of two learning activities: the Criticism of information sources course, and a Social Sciences and Humanities Seminar of the student's choice.

The course is given ex cathedra in a large amphitheatre during the first term, at a rate of 2 hours/week. It is accompanied by optional monitoring.

The seminar is given in small groups of students, at a rate of 1h30 every two weeks, during the first and second terms. Attendance at the seminar sessions is mandatory.

Assessment methods and criteria :
The Criticism of information sources course is evaluated by a written exam, valuable for exemption, held during the January session, or a final exam held during the June and September sessions. Only the score above 10/20 is therefore retained for the subsequent session(s) of the same academic year (art. 23 of the provisions of the Faculty of Law).
The Humanities Seminar is evaluated on the basis of intermediate work and final work to be submitted in the second quarter. In the event of unjustified failure to submit an intermediate or final paper or unjustified absence during the oral presentation, the student obtains a final grade of 0A/20 for the seminar in the June session. In case of delay, 4 points out of 20 are also withdrawn per day of delay, with a maximum of 5 days of delay. Beyond that, the student also obtains the final grade of 0A/20 in the June session. In addition, attendance at the seminar sessions is mandatory. Beyond one unjustified absence from the seminar sessions, the student obtains a final grade of 0A/20 for the seminar in the June session.
The exemption from representing the final work of the seminar in the same academic year is granted from 10/20 for the final rating of the seminar (art. 23 of the provisions of the Faculty of Law).
The two learning activities result in a single final rating, at the end of the June and September sessions, corresponding to the average rating of the two evaluations. However, both learning activities must have been effectively presented in order to be eligible for this average rating.

Recommended or required reading :
C. Gauvard, J.F. Sirinelli (dir.), Dictionnaire de l'historien, Paris, PUF, 2015.
K. Hillis, M. Petit, K. Jarrett, Google and the culture of search, New York, Routledge, 2012.
N. Marquis, E. Lenel, L. Van Campenhoudt, Pratique de la lecture critique en sciences humaines et sociales, Paris, Dunod, 2018.
J. Pycke, La critique historique : un long chemin à parcourir entre le témoignage et la synthèse, 3e éd., Louvain-la-Neuve, Academia-Bruylant, 2000.
R. Quivy, L. Van Campenhoudt, Manuel de recherches en sciences sociales, 3e éd. rev. et augm., Paris, Dunod, 2006.
Ch. Samaran (dir.), L'Histoire et ses méthodes, Paris, La Pléiade, 1961 (Encyclopédie de La Pléiade).
C.R. Sunstein, Anatomie de la rumeur, Genève, Ed. Markus Haller, 2012.
A. Tihon, Critique historique, Bruxelles, syllabus des FUSL, 1987 (inédit).

S. Cuykens, D. Holzapfel, L. Kennes, La preuve en matière pénale, Bruxelles, Larcier, 2015.
B. Fosséprez, A. Pütz (dir.), La preuve au carrefour de cinq disciplines juridiques, Limal, Anthemis, 2013.
D. Mougenot, « La preuve », Répertoire notarial, t. IV, Les obligations, livre II, Bruxelles, Larcier, 2012.