Student Profile: Savio Baptista, LLB Candidate, University of Strathclyde

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What is your name and country of origin?

My name is Savio Baptista and I am from Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Tell us briefly about your educational background

First, I graduated from York University with an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Law and Society in 2010. Later on, I graduated from Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology with an Ontario College Diploma in Law Clerk in 2014.

What are you studying?

I am studying law in the LLB (Scots & English) (Graduate Entry) program at the University of Strathclyde.

Why did you choose to study at the University of Strathclyde?

While researching graduate-entry LLB programmes in the UK, I was captivated by the University of Strathclyde’s law school and its degree programmes. In particular, the Dual Qualifying Accelerated (Scots and English Law) programme stood out amongst other graduate-entry LLB programmes, since it allows an individual to gain an in-depth understanding of both English and Scottish legal systems.

How would you describe the University of Strathclyde?

At Strathclyde, students will greatly benefit from the quality of teaching. The manner in which lectures are delivered opens the door to deeper learning. I myself have consistently been challenged since I am required to be innovative, and think more critically as I go through my course work and assignments.

Have you been a member of any student clubs or societies within the University of Strathclyde?

During my first year as a law student, I served as an Editorial Board Member with the Strathclyde Student Law Review. In this position, I was required to read, critically analyze, and edit submitted articles and book reviews. In addition, I served as the Halls Vice Convener/President (Collegelands) for the University of Strathclyde Halls Committee. As a committee member, I took part in planning student events, and served as a liaison between the University of Strathclyde, University Of Strathclyde Students’ Association, Residence Services, and students living on residence.

Currently, I am the Editor-In-Chief of the Strathclyde Student Law Review. In this role, I am in charge of putting together the annual publication of the Strathclyde Student Law Review, and overseeing all duties and responsibilities of the Editorial Board Members.

What has been your experience living in Student Halls?

The staff members at Strathclyde were extremely helpful when I was applying for my student housing. From the beginning, my questions were always answered in a timely manner, and my interactions with staff members never left me with a feeling of uncertainty.

My advice to international students is to strongly consider living in Student Halls during the first year of study. First of all, it is a great way to meet people within your course and others who also attend the University of Strathclyde. The student accommodations also provide students with access to various facilities that they will need throughout the academic year.

What are you hoping to do post-graduation?

Following the completion of my law degree, I plan to pursue a career as a real estate lawyer. As a real estate lawyer, I would be expected to have a strong understanding of the law in areas, such as property law and contract law. Secondly, I will need to possess a range of skills in order to successfully handle the legal aspects of residential and commercial real estate transactions. Such knowledge and skills will be developed as I undertake courses in law school so that I will eventually be able to think like a lawyer.

What advice would you give to prospective students?

Applying to the UK for higher education is a lengthy process, and there are also various costs to consider. Based on my experience, I would strongly recommend getting in touch with a representative from Future Project. The Future Project team will work closely with you, and provide an in-depth understanding of the application process.

How did Future Project assist you during the application process?

The Future Project team was really helpful when I needed to apply for my student visa. I was provided with clear instructions on how to proceed with my Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number once I accepted my offer of admission from the University of Strathclyde.

Were you awarded any scholarships?

Yes, I was awarded Scotland’s Saltire Scholarship. This is a scholarship awarded by the Scottish Government for successfully demonstrating that Scotland is the ideal destination to pursue higher education.

How did you hear about the scholarship?

I learned about this scholarship opportunity through the University of Strathclyde and Future Project.

In what ways has this scholarship had a significant impact on your life?

As a Saltire Scholar, I received an invitation from the Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland’s Languages to attend a reception welcoming all Saltire Scholarship recipients to Scotland.

This event took place at Edinburgh Castle. It was truly a night to remember since it was the first time I had visited Edinburgh, which is the capital of Scotland. As well, I got the opportunity to go on a private tour of the castle. These experiences would not have been possible without the Saltire Scholarship Programme.

Are international students permitted to work part-time in the UK?

If you wish to work part-time during your studies, then I would recommend applying for your National Insurance Number as soon as you arrive in the UK. In my experience, the process for obtaining the National Insurance Number was relatively quick.

I currently work as a Residential Accommodation Assistant at my residence. There are also numerous part-time job opportunities available on campus and within the Glasgow City Centre. However, it is important to keep in mind that your student visa will only permit you to work up to a maximum of 20 hours per week during each school term.

FACULTY HIGHLIGHT – DR ALEX SCHWARTZ, QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY BELFAST (QUB) SCHOOL OF LAW

Queen’s University Belfast is a member of the Russell Group of 24 leading UK research-intensive universities and is a top 1% University in the world (QS World University Rankings 2014). The School of Law is currently ranked 11th in the UK (Guardian League Table for Law 2015) and has been teaching law since 1845. Today, Queen’s offers LLB, LLM, JD, and PhD courses with a diverse range of specialization in criminology, governance, international commerce, environmental law and human rights. Queen’s is increasingly becoming one of the most attractive places for Canadian students looking for an international legal education.

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Dr Alex Schwartz is a Canadian who joined Queen’s School of Law in June 2013.  He was previously Banting Fellow and Adjunct Assistant Professor with the Department of Political Studies at Queen’s University (Canada). He has also been a visitor at the Centre for the Study of Social Justice, University of Oxford, and a postdoctoral fellow with the Canada Research Chair in Quebec and Canadian Studies at L’Université du Québec à Montréal.   He is co-editor, with Professor Colin Harvey, of Rights in Divided Societies (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2012).

Education: Ph.D., QUB; LL.M., University of Toronto; LL.B., Dalhousie University; B.A., Memorial University

Research interests: judicial behaviour; comparative constitutional law; consociationalism; and power-sharing.

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FACULTY HIGHLIGHT – Dr Sara Ramshaw, Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) School of Law

Queen’s University Belfast is a member of the Russell Group of 24 leading UK research-intensive universities and is a top 1% University in the world (QS World University Rankings 2014). The School of Law is currently ranked 11th in the UK (Guardian League Table for Law 2015) and has been teaching law since 1845. Today, Queen’s offers LLB, LLM, JD, and PhD courses with a diverse range of specialization in criminology, governance, international commerce, environmental law and human rights. Queen’s is increasingly becoming one of the most attractive places for Canadian students looking for an international legal education.

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Dr Sara Ramshaw joined the Queen’s School of Law as a Lecturer in 2005. After receiving her BA (Hons) (with Distinction) from the University of Toronto, Sara obtained both a LLB and LLM from the University of British Columbia. She then clerked at the Ontario Court of Justice (General Division) and was called to the Bar of the Law Society of Upper Canada in 2000. Dr Ramshaw worked as a Research Lawyer at the Superior Court of Justice, Family Court in Toronto, Ontario before commencing doctoral studies at Birkbeck School of Law, University of London, which she completed in 2007.

Current teaching responsibilities include: Project Research Group leader of the QUB Institute for Collaborative Research in the Humanities (ICRH)’s Translating Improvisation Research Group (TIRG), criminal law, legal theory, and human rights law.

Research interests: legal theory (particularly feminist legal theory, poststructural theory, and/or critical race or postcolonial theory), family law and music or improvisation and the law.

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FACULTY HIGHLIGHT – PROFESSOR ANDREA ROSS, UNIVERSITY OF DUNDEE SCHOOL OF LAW

We are proud to represent the University of Dundee! The School of Law can be traced back over six centuries through links with St. Andrews University and is currently ranked 31st in the UK by the Guardian League Table for Law 2015.

Dundee offers LL.B degrees in Scots law, English law, and a joint degree in Scots and English law. Dundee also offers a broad portfolio of private and public law LLM programs reflecting the expertise of their academics.

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Professor Andrea Ross is one of two Professors of Environmental Law in the School of Law. She is a Canadian from Ottawa, Ontario who after two years of studying economics and politics at the University of Western Ontario completed her LL.B at Osgoode Hall Law School at York University. Professor Ross  articled at Lang Michener in Toronto and was called to the Bar of the Law Society for Upper Canada in 1990. After a short period working as Corporate Counsel for Midland Walwyn in Toronto, she went to the University of Aberdeen and completed an LL.M in Environmental Law and afterwards taught there for 4 years.

Current teaching responsibilities include: Property Law on the English (common law) stream as well as Environmental Law and Planning Law on both the English (common law) and Scots streams.

Research interests: Public and Environmental Law, Sustainable Development, Environmental and Planning Law, and Environmental Regulation.

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Faculty Highlight – Professor Joanna Gray, Newcastle Law School

We are proud to represent Newcastle University, which is a member of the prestigious Russell Group and ranked in the top 1% of universities in the world by the QS World University Rankings, 2013! Newcastle Law School is among the best in the UK, ranked 12th by both the Sunday Times University Guide 2014: Law and Guardian League Table for Law 2015, and 13th by the Complete University Guide: Law 2015.

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Professor Joanna Gray is the Professor of Financial Regulation at Newcastle Law School. She completed her LL.B (Hons), First Class at Newcastle Law School, her LL.M at Yale as a Fulbright Scholar, and is a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales.

Professor Gray joined Newcastle Law School in 2003 after previous posts at University College London, University of Lancaster, and University of Dundee. She was a Visting Erskine Fellow, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand (February and March 2012), the keynote speaker at  April 2011 Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority/UNSW, Sydney, workshop on prudential regulation and superannuation, and an invited participant at High Level Policy Seminar with European Central Bank deputy Chairman and teaching on Global Governance programme Executive Education seminar series,  European University Institute (June 2011). As well, Professor Gray is widely published in leading economic, finance and legal journals. 

Current teaching responsibilities include: principles of company law, corporate governance and corporate finance, international financial regulation, legal and regulatory aspects of banking supervision, legal and regultaory aspects of money launderign and financial crime.

Research interests: regulation, financial services and markets law and regulation, corporate finance law, and company law.

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Faculty Highlight – Professor Susan Breau, University of Reading School of Law

We are proud to represent the University of Reading and thrilled Canadian students cannot only benefit from a diverse and world-class faculty but one that includes a Canadian lawyer as the Head of School! Reading School of Law is among the best in the UK, ranked 11th by the Sunday Times University Guide: Law 2014.

Choosing where to study, especially overseas, is often a daunting task. Our goal is to help you make an informed decision that aligns with your legal academic and career aspirations. We hope our ‘Faculty Highlight’ posts will help you in that process. This is the first of many and one we think is especially noteworthy.

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Professor Susan Breau, B.A. (Queen’s University Canada), LL.B. (Queen’s University Canada), M.A. (Queen’s University Canada) LL.M. (London School of Economics), Ph.D. (London School of Economics)

Professor Breau joined Reading Law School in 2013 as a Professor of Law. She was awarded her PhD from the London School of Economics. She has been previously a lecturer in international law at Queen’s University Belfast, the Dorset Fellow in International Law at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, Reader in International Law at the University of Surrey and Professor of International Law at Flinders University, Adelaide Australia. Susan Breau also acts as the international law consultant to the Every Casualty Programme as part of the Oxford Research Group. Prior to becoming an academic Susan Breau operated a sole legal practice in Kingston, Ontario Canada.

Current teaching responsibilities include: Legal Skills, Criminal Law, Constitutional Law, International Law (LLB); International Humanitarian Law, World Order and Theories of International Law, Contemporary Issues in International Law (LLM)

Research interests: Public International Law: the lawfulness of the use of force, customary international law, international humanitarian law, international organisations law. International Human Rights Law: self-determination, group rights, women’s rights, children’s rights.

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Torture, etc: beyond the ‘ticking bomb’ scenario

A bomb has been planted in a busy metropolitan area; the whereabouts of this bomb are unknown to the authorities; the authorities have captured the person who has planted the bomb; should the authorities torture the captive to obtain the information necessary to save dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of lives? The right not to be subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment manifests itself in similar form across a vast number of national constitutions and laws as well as regional and international human rights instruments. Torture has, of course, been a ‘hot’ topic in public discourse following 9/11 and the more recent exposure of a number of States, including the USA and the UK, as having been involved in the torture of individuals in the so-called war against terror. It has also occupied a central position in the philosophy classroom, and increasingly the public domain, in the form of the hypothetical ‘ticking bomb’ scenario and attendant dilemma outlined above. These are topics of enormous interest and significance, and form the subject of both teaching and research at undergraduate and postgraduate level here at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB).

Yet the sensational nature of these questions can sometimes cast an undue shadow over issues of remarkable significance beyond those immediately apparent at hearing the catchword ‘torture’. My research aims to contribute to and promote more critical engagement on such issues.

My doctoral research has focused on the meaning and implications of an ‘absolute right’ at law, as concretised in Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which provides that ‘No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’. This enabled me to examine in depth the meaning of an absolute entitlement not to be made subject to inhuman treatment, inhuman punishment, degrading treatment or degrading punishment, terms which are often the ‘etc’ of torture. These aspects of Article 3 of the ECHR touch upon a vast range of areas, including: police violence in custody, demonstrations, arrests and other contexts; prison conditions; corporal punishment; criminal justice and sentencing; immigration and asylum; healthcare; and others.

To provide an illustration of a topical issue emanating from the right not to be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has recently held, in a judgment against the UK, that whole life terms of imprisonment without parole (that is, without an opportunity to be considered for release) contravene the prohibition on inhuman and degrading punishment under Article 3 ECHR. Central to the ECtHR’s analysis was an emphasis on dignity, which necessitated the possibility of release – or, in other words, the right to hope. The judgment has prompted the UK government to suggest 100-year prison terms for those considered to have committed particularly heinous crimes. Are such proposals compatible with the ECtHR’s judgment? What is your view on the ECtHR’s position to begin with, and how does it relate to the approach in your home country? Such questions require informed, critical engagement and debate, and students are key participants in this endeavour here at QUB.

In addition, beyond the rendition context readily associated with torture in the so-called ‘war on terror’, the right not to be subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment has sweeping consequences in relation to immigration and asylum. The ECtHR has established that expelling an individual to a State where they face a real risk of any of the proscribed ill-treatment is contrary to Article 3 ECHR and absolutely prohibited (note that this is different from the Canadian position on this issue following Suresh v Canada). This has meant that a number of people cannot legally be sent back to their home countries if they face a real risk of proscribed ill-treatment there – an implication which has stirred significant controversy. The issue gains added controversy – and complexity – with regard to proposed extraditions of individuals to countries such as the USA to face particularly harsh penal practices and prison regimes. What should a European Court’s stance be in assessing the humanity or lack thereof of non-European States’ practices? What issues does the Court’s position raise on a global level? These are questions of legal as well as of political and moral significance.

QUB provides a unique environment for exploring cutting edge questions on human rights and criminal justice, and to do so from national, transnational, regional and international perspectives. It is not only an academic hub of people with a stellar publication record on these subjects and other fields, but also a major platform for legal, political and cultural engagement within Northern Ireland and the UK. Joining QUB has meant that all this is at my fingertips.

Natasa Mavronicola

Lecturer in Law

Queen’s University Belfast

(n.mavronicola@qub.ac.uk)