[LPC] If textbook fails, Can self-made notes replace the need?

This blog post is part of the diary of a LPC Student Series on YCIL.

The past 2 days I’ve been trying to get to grips with Planning Law (part of my Commercial Property Elective).

On a number of previous occasions I have complained about the manuals we have been provided with as part of the course – chapters missing, spine breaking on the first day and pages falling out, out of date law even though the change was 2 years ago etc etc. Planning law has been no exception.

Yes, all the chapters are there, but it seems that they fail to cover the information in the enough detail required for our course. We have been provided with 70-odd pages of additional notes (which are add-ons to the paragraphs in the manual which requires a lot of going back and forth and cross referencing for them to make sense and not enough room to write them in) and then there is of course a reading list and online resources we also need to make use of.

Planning being the smaller part of the Commercial Property course will probably result in adding up to one question on the exam paper. So maybe the lack of coherent notes is seen as a minor issue – but I’m looking for a solution without resorting to writing my own textbook.

The question I am debating today is whether self-made notes could replace the textbook?

Obviously, initially you need a source of information somewhere. Books, articles and legislation are the obvious sources. You could pull this together to make a good set of notes.

But of course in my experience – even with the most perfectly prepared notes, there is often the need to refer to the textbook. It is hard for us students to know what is really important sometimes – all the flow charts, summaries and lists can only provide us with the information if we know it in the first place. Notes are only as good as your teacher – textbooks provide good backup.

in my Criminal litigation exam we had a 20 mark question, which our group covered only in lectures and never in class. My group came out of that exam wondering what that question was in relation to and had answered with a lot of ramblings, other groups came out having a perfectly structured answers….

Of course, as well as my limited knowledge of a topic such as planning law, there is also the time issue – how much time can I really give to trying to make a bulky and resourceful notebook? Particularly if it is only 20% of commercial property course (like what, 6% of my whole set of forthcoming exams).

I think self-made notes could replace a text book, if time was unlimited – but in the time given, it could never come close – notes are so exam related, with little room for personal interest or historical and practical tangents.

Nevertheless – this feels like a challenge…