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BCL courses

Courses that may form part of a BCL degree are shown below. Each BCL student must take four courses. A dissertation counts as one course. Click on a course name for an informal explanation.

Not every course is available every year. A final list is available during September each year. The faculty reserves the right to apply a cap to any BCL or MJur course in the event of an enrolment that exceeds available teaching capacity. A cap will normally be applied in cases where numbers are greater than 35, but occasionally there may be lower or higher caps.

The Faculty attaches great importance to tutorial teaching and this is an integral part of every course.


The courses we offer in the BCL are:



Our taught postgraduate programme, designed to serve outstanding law students from common-law backgrounds

A Primer on EU Law

Dr von Goldbeck

Three part lecture series (10-11am, Wed 1 Oct; 9-10am, Thurs 2 Oct; 10-11 am, Mon 6 Oct)

Aimed principally at students who have not had the opportunity to study EU law before who may nonetheless wish to take BCL/MJur courses with an EU law component.

Advanced Property and Trusts (not offered in 2015-16)

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Property and Trusts

The course explores the foundations of the institutions of property and trusts. It combines conceptual and functional analysis of doctrine with more abstract theoretical enquiry. Ideas and perspectives are drawn from moral and political philosophy, history, and economics, as well as more formally legal, comparative and jurisprudential analyses. Some knowledge of the legal details of property in one or other legal system will be essential for students taking the course. A common-law background is not a prerequisite; much use will be made of English law and other common law systems, but we will also draw upon civilian legal systems in our explorations. The course gives students an opportunity to study fundamental institutions of private law with wide ramifications in the social sciences and humanities. Students will be exposed to the widest possible range of research and teaching in property law and trusts drawing on visiting scholars as well as Oxford faculty. The topics discussed are all ripe for exploration as areas of future research.

The course will divide into three areas: A. Boundaries of Property (conceptual and functional analysis of property) B. Justifying Property (mainstream and novel defences and critiques of property) C. The Trust (the distinctive contribution of trust and fiduciary institutions in blurring the lines between proprietary and personal claims; trust systems in common law and civilian jurisdictions)

The course will be taught by means of seminars supplemented by lectures and tutorials, led by Joshua Getzler, Simon Douglas, Dyson Heydon, and Alexandra Braun. The core seminars are spread over Michaelmas and Hilary terms. Students will be provided with course materials accessible through the internet and the intranet, together with material in university and college libraries. Students will explore the reading materials and address a set of thematic questions, on which they will be asked to prepare brief notes. Seminars and lectures will be augmented with tutorials; in tutorial weeks students will be asked to prepare essays on given topics and meet in small groups with teacheers for debate and discussion. Each student will have the opportunity to take a set of up to four tutorials in the midst of their seminar learning across the first two terms. In Trinity Term students will be given the opportunity to consolidate their learning in occasional seminars, with guest speakers and extra readings supplied to help with deeper exploration of issues. The tutorials and third-term seminars will assist students in preparing for assessment.

Assessment will take the form of a three hour written examination at the end of the course. Candidates will be required to answer three essay questions from a wide choice of topics, which may cut across themes covered in the course. Candidates will be expected to show a detailed knowledge of relevant theoretical debates and also applicable legal materials, including judgments in cases, and statutory and constitutional provisions. They will also need to display an ability to synthesise complex materials and to present their own analysis of the arguments.

The course is taught mainly by: Joshua Getzler, Professor of Law and Legal History, Fellow of St Hugh's College; Simon Douglas, Associate Professor of Law, Fellow of Jesus College; Alexandra Braun, Associate Professor of Law, Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall; and The Hon J Dyson Heydon, Visiting Professor of Law and Honorary Fellow of Keble College.

Children, Families and the State

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Family Law

I.          Overview

The aim of this Option is to examine a number of the most significant issues affecting the legal regulation of children, children and their families, and families more generally.

The readings have been selected to integrate deep, theoretical debates with contemporary legal, policy, and empirical developments.  We are particularly concerned to understand the embeddedness and broader impact of the governing law.

Our intention is that, after completing the Option, you are uniquely empowered and challenged to both critique and reassess the value of theoretical arguments made in this context, as well as reconsider how best to address real world problems.

This Option will naturally appeal to students with a particular interest in family law and human rights law.  More generally, it will appeal to students interested in broader debates that affect everyday life:  Do children have rights?  Do parents have rights?  What should we value when deciding who should be seen as ‘parent’ in law – genetics, caring for the child, and so forth?  It will also appeal to students who enjoy blending theoretical and conceptual arguments with the practical messiness of everyday life.  Finally, it will appeal to students who are interested in bringing international sources of law to bear on such problems.


II.        Syllabus

We will cover the following key substantive topics in the course:

  1. Theories of children’s rights;
  2. International children’s rights;
  3. Children’s welfare and wellbeing;
  4. Poverty and children;
  5. International procreation and parenthood;
  6. Parental responsibilities and rights;
  7. Gender and family law;
  8. Family violence;
  9. Diversity, religion, and families;
  10. Family law systems.

In each topic, we will examine illustrative ‘case study’ case law and statutory materials from English law, other jurisdictions, and international law.  This will involve considering a broader range of key theoretical, policy, and empirical materials to enable us to situate the legal debate within its complex context.

The course is taught by means of 12 two-hour seminars given over Michaelmas and Hilary Term and four interspersed tutorials, two in each of the two core teaching terms.  Tutorial one will focus on topics 1-3; tutorial two on topics 4-6; tutorial three on topics 7-8; and tutorial four on topics 9-10.  In addition to these 10 substantive topics, there will be an introductory seminar in which we outline the basic concepts, and a concluding seminar in which draw together the different perspectives examined and explore some of the larger, thematic concerns.


III.       Assessment

Assessment will be both formative and summative.  In terms of formative assessment, as noted, you will be provided with the opportunity to write an essay for each of your four tutorials.

As is generally the case for BCL Options, formal summative assessment will determine your overall performance in the course.  This will be by means of a three-hour, closed-book written examination at the end of the course.  You will be required to answer three questions out of a possible nine options.  Question coverage will be spread evenly across the course topics, although individual exam questions can involve issues that draw together different topics.

We do not require students who take this course to have previously studied family law or children’s law.  Moreover, and critically, whilst there is some overlap in terms of the course material and debates, we have been careful to design the course so that students who have not previously studied family law or children’s law will not be disadvantaged compared to those who have.


IV.       Learning Outcomes

Through studying this Option, you will be able to:

  1. Understand and critically evaluate theoretical approaches to ‘rights’, ‘children’s rights’, ‘welfare’, and ‘wellbeing’;
  2. Analyse the application and relevance of theoretical perspectives to topical legal issues relating to the regulation of children’s lives;
  3. Acquire a deep knowledge of topical legal issues that relate to the regulation of children in English law, the law of selected other jurisdictions, and European and international law;
  4. Appreciate and be sensitive to the value of European, international, and cross-jurisdictional legal perspectives for the improvement of the English legal approach to regulating children and their families;
  5. Integrate and synthesise cross-disciplinary perspectives from theory, public and social policy, and empirical research, to generate enriched, holistic insights into the most significant difficulties in the legal regulation of children and their families.


V.         Course Content in Detail

The course covers 10 substantive topics, as follows:

1.    Theories of children’s rights

This topic considers the conceptual debate over what we mean when we say that children have rights.  This entails examination of both the relationship between ‘rights’ and ‘children’s rights’, as well as the possible theoretical accounts of ‘children’s rights’.

2.    International children’s rights

This topic explores the status and protection of the child in international law.  We consider a number of international instruments and bodies, such as the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child, the European Convention on Human Rights, and the United Nations’ Committee on the Rights of the Child.  We also examine illustrative examples of international rights in practice in international, European, and domestic English law.

3.    Children’s welfare and wellbeing

This topic examines both the theoretical literature on the nature of ‘welfare’ as contrasted with ‘children’s rights’ or ‘rights’ and the growing empirical literature on ‘wellbeing’.  Contemporary, difficult decision-making contexts affecting children, such as the decision whether to exclude a child from school or deciding which factors are relevant to decision-making about medical treatment, will form the context for discussion.

4.    Poverty and children

This topic considers the nature, extent and significance of child poverty.  It will consider the role of child support and financial orders in family law in combatting child poverty.  A key question will be whether poverty can be regarded as a children’s rights issue and, if so, who has the corresponding duty.

5.    International procreation and parenthood

This topic considers the law and ethics surrounding parenthood within an international context.  As the search for parenthood becomes increasingly international, so differing approaches to child welfare, conceptions of parenthood and commercialisation of parenthood come increasingly into conflict. Particular attention will be given to the contrast between intercountry adoption, governed by a well-established international convention, and surrogacy on which there is no emerging consensus.

6.    Parental responsibilities and rights

This topic examines the legal and moral nature of the parental role.  It will explore concepts such as parentage, parental responsibility, and contact.  It will examine the nature of parental rights and their relationships with children’s rights and/or welfare.

7.    Gender and family law

This topic focuses on the interaction between gender and family law.  It will explore the gender inequalities in terms of time, pay and care within family law and what, if anything can be done to challenge them by the law.  It will explore explored the gendered norms underpinning family law, both in terms of the roles of expected by men and women, but also the values seen to be the foundation of family law.

8.    Family violence

This topic explores, in a broad sense, violence within families.  Unusually this will seek to integrate an examination of child abuse and domestic violence.  It will also explore forms of family violence which are often overlooked by family lawyers, such as elder abuse and the abuse of parents by their children.

9.    Diversity, religion, and families

This topic considers the law and theory surrounding the extent to which the law recognises and accommodates differing norms surround family life, particularly in the context of differing religious norms.  Particular attention will be given to limits on the status of marriage and to exploring the boundaries between the law’s tolerance of pluralism in family life and the protective function of the state, particularly in relation to children.

10.      Family law systems

This topic considers the increasing importance of private ordering within private family law and the use of alternative forums for dispute resolution.  Particular attention will be given to the role of arbitration in family law and to the use of religious tribunals.  This topic builds on the exploration of pluralism and the protective function of the state in topic 9.

Commercial Remedies

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Commercial Law

This course aims to provide an in-depth understanding of remedies in a commercial context, interpreting that phrase in a wide sense. So it will cover remedies for civil wrongs (ie, breach of contract, tort and equitable wrongs) but will exclude any direct consideration of damages for personal injury and death. The course will build on knowledge which all law undergraduates ought to have and, in some areas, will enable students to look in greater depth at matters dealt with at undergraduate level. The approach will be avowedly traditional in that the focus will be on case analysis and doctrine. As with the Restitution of Unjust Enrichment course, with which this will dovetail, the anticipation is that developments at the cutting edge of the law will be constantly debated. An important and novel aspect of the course will be to discuss alongside remedies for the common law wrongs of breach of contract and torts, remedies for the equitable wrongs, such as breach of fiduciary duty.

Comparative and Global Environmental Law (not offered in 2015-16)

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Environmental Law

Environmental law regimes now operate at the local, national, transnational and international levels in relation to a wide range of environmental problems. This course is a study of these regimes in comparative perspective so as to highlight not only the similarities and differences between them, but also the types of intellectual challenges they create for scholars and lawyers. In particular, a feature of these regimes is their legal and regulatory complexity. Topics covered include the role and nature of environmental principles; the role of courts; the nature of environmental decision-making processes (including the roles of science and participation); environmental impact assessment; nature conservation; chemicals regulation; transgenic agricultural regulation; integrated pollution control; emission trading schemes; commercial transactions; and private law. Reading will be drawn from case law, policy, legal, socio-legal and interdisciplinary literature and consists of 13 seminars and 4 tutorials which will run over MT, HT and the first third of TT. There are no pre-requisites for the course.

Comparative Corporate Law

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Comparative Law, Corporate Law

The course consists of a comparative study of major areas of the company laws of the UK, continental Europe (in particular, Germany) and the United States as well as an assessment of the work done by the European Union in the field of company law.

The three areas or jurisdictions selected for comparative study have, collectively, had a very significant impact on the development of company law throughout the world. An understanding of these thus assists students in understanding both the content of, and influences upon, many others. The approach taken is both functional and comparative, looking at a series of core problems with which any system of corporate law must deal, and analysing, from a functional perspective, the solutions adopted by the systems in question. The course seeks to situate these solutions in the underlying concepts and assumptions of the chosen systems, as these often provide an explanation for divergences. To this end, the course begins with a contextual overview of ‘systems’ of corporate governance, which material is then applied in the following seminars on more substantive topics. Such a comparative study is intended to enable students to see their own system of company law in a new and more meaningful light, and to be able to form new views about its future development. Finally, a study of the ways in which the European Union is developing company law within its boundaries is also important, not only as illustrating, by a review of the harmonisation programme, the benefits to be derived from a comparative study in practice, but also because it shows new ways in which corporate vehicles can be developed to meet particular policy objectives.

 The course assumes students have knowledge of the basic structure of corporate laws, such as would be gained from an undergraduate course (regardless of jurisdiction). MJur students who have previously studied company law in another jurisdiction may find it helpful to take Company Law at the same time.

The teaching group comprises Professor J Armour, Dr WG Ringe and Ms J Payne. Teaching consists of a combination of lectures, seminars, and tutorials. Guest lectures by visiting academics may also be given at various points.

Comparative Equality Law

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Human Rights Law

The right to equality is ubiquitous in human rights instruments in jurisdictions throughout the world. Yet the meaning of equality and non-discrimination are contested. Is equality formal or substantive, and if the latter, what does substantive equality entail? Which groups should be protected from discrimination and how do we decide? How do we capture conceptualisations of equality in legal terms and when should equality give way to other priorities, such as conflicting freedoms or cost? The aim of this course is examine these and other key issues through the prism of comparative law. Given the growing exchange of ideas across different jurisdictions, the comparative technique is a valuable analytic tool to illuminate this field. At the same time, the course pays attention to the importance of social, legal and historical context to the development of legal concepts and their impact.

The first half of the course approaches the subject thematically, while the second half of the course addresses individual grounds, ending with a consideration of remedial structures. Theory is integrated throughout the course, and the relationship between grounds of discrimination and other human rights is explored. The course will be predominantly based on materials from the US, Canada, South Africa, India, the UK, EU, and ECHR, although some materials from other Commonwealth countries or individual European countries will be included. International human rights instruments are also examined. Employment related discrimination is generally dealt with in the International and European Employment Law course. The course does not require previous knowledge of equality or discrimination law.

 The course is taught by a series of 14 seminars, in MT and HT. There will be a tutorial at the end of each term and two further tutorials in TT. A series of guest seminars will be arranged throughout the year, but particularly in TT. The course is taught by Professor Sandra Fredman, Dr Tarunabh Khaitan, and Dr Barbara Havelkova. Justice Kate O’Regan (one of the first justices on the South African Constitutional Court) will give a series of seminars in TT.


Comparative Human Rights

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Human Rights Law

The course involves a study of human rights drawing on legal materials primarily (though not exclusively) from the United Kingdom, the United States, the Commonwealth and Europe. The course considers the meaning of particular human rights and their significance in theory and in practice, and the approaches taken by the legal institutions designed to protect them at the national and European regional levels, including those of the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Union. A number of specific substantive issues (most notably, freedom of speech and protection from discrimination) are studied in depth to illustrate the complex interplay between theory, legal concepts and procedure, and between legal and non-legal sources of protection.

Teaching for this subject comprises of seminars and tutorials. In general the seminars aim to encourage extensive class participation and extended high-level discussion of particular topics of importance. Tutorials provide the opportunity to write essays and discuss essay and examination technique. The course as a whole aims to contribute to the legal education of the student by providing the opportunity for comparative study, during which the appropriateness and utility of comparative legal techniques will be considered.

Teaching is in the form of a two-hour seminar which runs each week during Michaelmas and Hilary Terms.

Comparative Public Law

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Comparative Law

Judicial protection against unlawful (and sometimes lawful) legislative and administrative acts or rules is of concern to individuals and companies in a variety of contexts. This course covers the central aspects of procedural and substantive judicial review under the public law of England, France and the European Union. The course will consider these issues against the constitutional framework which exists in the three systems. Throughout the course the emphasis will be on making comparisons between the different systems. To facilitate this each of the topics studied will be analysed within the same week's work.

The principal course objective is to enable students to acquire knowledge and understanding of the law in this area, and to be able to discuss at an advanced level elements of public law as they are evolving in England, France, and in the EU.

It is possible to undertake the course exclusively on the basis of English language materials, but the ability to read French is an advantage, since some of the secondary sources on French law are only available in the French language. There are, however, translations of the French case law used in the course.

Advice on this and other aspects of the course is available from the course convenor, Professor P  Craig (St. Johns College). The course is taught by Professor P  Craig and Dr A Young.

Teaching is primarily through lectures and seminars in Michaelmas and Hilary terms. Tutorials will be available in Trinity Term. The structure of the course is as follows. In Michaelmas Term there will be lectures which deal with the central aspects of procedural and substantive review in the three systems. The lectures are designed to lay the foundations for seminar discussion that will take place in Hilary Term, and the first half of Trinity Term. The lectures and seminars will cover the following topics: the constitutional foundations of the three systems; procedural review; review for jurisdictional error; improper purposes; irrationality; proportionality; legitimate expectations; equality; and fundamental rights; damages actions, including damages for losses caused by lawful governmental action.

Competition Law

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Competition Law

The objective of the course is to provide students with an understanding of this area of law, together with the ability to subject it to critical legal and economic analysis. The course aims to cover the main substantive laws relating to competition within the EC, including the control of monopoly and oligopoly; merger control; anti-competitive agreements; and other anti-competitive practices.

The emphasis is placed predominantly on EU competition law to reflect the importance it assumes in practice. UK competition law is also taught in detail, both because of its value in providing a comparative study of two systems of competition law and because of its importance to the UK practitioner. The antitrust laws of the USA and competition laws of other jurisdictions are also referred to by way of comparison.

Lectures and Seminars: Competition law is taught in lectures seminars by Dr Ariel Ezrachi, Slaughter and May Professor of Competition Law, and Mr Aidan Robertson, QC, visiting lecturer and barrister, Brick Court Chambers.

Tutorials: In addition to the lectures and seminars, a course of four tutorials will be given in the Hilary and Trinity terms. Tutorial arrangements will be made in due course. All students taking tutorials will be asked to submit written work before they attend tutorials.
Visiting speakers: There is a programme of visiting speakers details of which are found on the CCLP website.

Conflict of Laws

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Private International Law

The Conflict of Laws, or Private International Law, is concerned with private (mainly commercial) law cases, where the facts which give rise to litigation contain one or more foreign elements. A court may be asked to give relief for breach of a commercial contract made abroad, or to be performed abroad, or to which one or both of the parties is not English. It may be asked to grant relief in respect of an alleged tort occurring abroad, or allow a claimant to trace and recover funds which were fraudulently removed, and so on. In fact this component of the course, in which a court chooses which law or laws to apply when adjudicating a civil claim, represents its middle third. Prior to this comes the issue of jurisdiction; that is, when an English court will find that it has, and will exercise, jurisdiction over a defendant who is not English, or over a dispute which may have little to do with England or with English law. Closely allied to this is the question of what, if anything, may be done to impede proceedings which are underway in a foreign court but which really should not be there at all. The remaining third of the course is concerned with the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments, to determine what effect, if any, these have in the English legal order.

In England the subject has an increasingly European dimension,not only in relation to the jurisdiction of courts and the recognition and enforcement of judgements but also for choice of law as it applies to contractual and non-contractual obligations. The purpose of the course is to examine the areas studied by reference to case law and statute, and to aim at acquiring an understanding of the rules, their operation and inter-relationship, as would be necessary to deal with a problem arising in international commercial litigation.

The teaching is principally in the hands of Adrian Briggs, Edwin Peel and Andrew Dickinson. In principle the course is introduced by a set of lectures, covered by a set of seminars which take the form of problem classes; and supplemented by a diet of tutorials.

Constitutional Principles of the EU (not offered in 2015-16)

Please see also the 'what we do' page for European Union Law

The purpose of this course is to provide an advanced understanding of the constitutional questions of the EU. We pose the general question whether the law of the European Union can make sense as a coherent order of principles. The subject matter is EU Law as it stands today, in light of the case law of the European Court of Justice and general principles at can be borrowed form domestic constitutional theory or public international law. The readings will constitute mostly of cases of the ECJ and opinions of the Advocate General, combined with some cases from the United Kingdom and suitable readings in law and jurisprudence. Topics will include the nature of the EU as a constitutional state in the making or a sui generis international organisation; the ECJ doctrine of the ‘autonomy’ of EU law; the principle of direct effect; the principle of supremacy; non-discrimination; citizenship; human rights; remedies and procedural autonomy. We shall discuss the diverse approaches in the works of scholars such as Lenaerts, Von Bogdandy, Kumm, Habermas, Weiler, MacCormick, Wyatt, Weatherill, Craig, Hartley, Kirchoff and others.

Constitutional Theory

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Jurisprudence

The course is concerned with the theory of the nature, authority and legitimacy of constitutions. Topics include the historical origins and development of constitutional concepts; methods of separating the powers of governmental agencies; the ideal of the rule of law; institutional consequences of theories of democracy; the structure and function of legislatures and techniques for limiting their powers; the role of courts in review of legislation and executive action; the structure and operation of executive agencies; the framing and interpretation of written constitutions; the role of citizens and institutions in times of constitutional emergency; the nature and appropriate constitutional protection of basic rights; federalism and the constitutional implications of multiculturalism.

Corporate Finance Law

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Corporate Law

The limited company is a hugely popular business vehicle, and the primary reason for this is its ability to act as a successful vehicle for raising business finance and diversifying financial risk. All companies need to raise money in order to function successfully. It is these "money matters" which are at the heart of corporate law, and an understanding of the ways in which companies can raise money, and the manner in which their money-raising activities are regulated, is central to an understanding of how companies function. The aims of the course are (a) to explain the complex statutory provisions governing the issue and marketing of corporate securities, against the background of business transactions; (b) to explore the fundamental legal propositions around which corporate finance transactions are usually organised and (c) to examine the means by which money is raised by borrowing and quasi-debt and different methods of securing debt obligations. Technical issues will therefore be placed in their economic and business context. There is a strong emphasis on the policy issues underlying the legal rules. The course focuses on the forms of corporate finance and on the structure and regulation of capital markets. The course also examines the attributes of the main types of securities issued by companies and the legal doctrines which are designed to resolve the conflicts of interests between shareholders and creditors. Consideration is given to the EU directives affecting the financial markets, especially the manner in which they have been implemented into English law. Many of the issues arising are of international importance and the course examines the harmonisation of these matters within the EU.

This course will be of interest to any student wishing to develop a knowledge of corporate law, as well as to those who are corporate finance specialists. No prior knowledge of the subject is required, nor is it necessary to have studied company law, though this will be of significant advantage. Those with no knowledge of company law will need to do some additional background reading prior to the start of seminars, and advice can be given on this issue. MJur students are welcome, especially if they have prior knowledge of corporate finance in their own jurisdictions, but they must be prepared to engage with the case law and with UK statutes where appropriate.

Corporate Insolvency Law

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Corporate Law

The insolvency of a firm gives rise to a number of fascinating and complex questions. At what point should a firm that is distressed be entered into a formal insolvency procedure? Who should be responsible for the initiation of such a procedure? For whose benefit are such procedures conducted? To what extent should such procedures be geared towards the rescue of the firm or its business? What rights should those to whom the firm is indebted - the creditors - have over the conduct of the proceedings? How should the claims of those creditors to the firm’s assets be dealt with? And how should the managers of the distressed firm be dealt with, in and outside formal insolvency proceedings?

In the course, these questions are approached through the study of UK corporate insolvency law. Students embark on a close study of the formal procedures available in a domestic corporate insolvency, acquiring a detailed knowledge of the English company liquidation and administration procedures. Students also study two formal procedures (the scheme of arrangement, and the company voluntary arrangement) that facilitate agreements with creditors to postpone, reduce or otherwise compromise claims they have against the firm, and analyse the relationships between these procedures and more informal restructuring solutions. Although all of these procedures are analysed primarily with reference to domestic insolvencies, students also study the availability and operation of these procedures in cross-border insolvency cases, with particular reference to European law on this subject.

The course objectives do not, of course, end with acquiring a detailed understanding of the existing law. Students are expected to critically evaluate the legal rules that they study, with reference to the normative questions outlined above. In other words, they are expected to grapple with overarching questions about the purpose and scope of corporate insolvency laws in general, and to use this to analyse English law specifically. To assist in this exercise, students are provided with a wealth of literature - both theoretical and empirical - that engages directly with these overarching questions. There is a particular emphasis on the analysis of corporate insolvency law from a law and economics perspective, and students acquire a good grounding in the core literature in this field. Students are also provided with comparative law literature that illustrates differences in the design of corporate insolvency laws around the world, and evaluates which design choices best promote the fulfilment of the functions identified in the theoretical literature. Collectively this body of literature provides students with a toolkit that can be used to evaluate not only UK corporate insolvency law, but also the insolvency laws of any other jurisdiction around the world.

No prior knowledge of the subject is required, nor is it necessary to have studied company law, though this is of some advantage. M Jur students are very welcome, but they must be prepared to engage fully with the English law reading, including a significant number of cases.

The teaching group comprises Professor J Armour (on sabbatical in the coming year), Professor J Payne, Professor G Moss QC, Professor H Eidenmuller and Dr K van Zwieten. We are fortunate to have other academics and senior practitioners join us in various seminars. In the 2014-2015 academic year, this will include Mr Nick Segal (Freshfields) and Professor Charles W. Mooney Jr (U Penn Law School). The teaching is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars and tutorials. Lectures and seminars are paired, with lectures providing an introduction to each seminar topic. Students read for the seminars in advance, and discussion is structured around a list of seminar questions. Tutorials are geared towards revision.

Corporate Tax Law and Policy

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Tax

Are multi-national companies escaping taxation by tax planning and shifting profits? Where should they be paying tax and on what basis? Should we abolish corporation tax altogether and find some other way to tax business? Recent discussions in the media and by politicians and pressure groups have underlined that this is not just a technical area. It raises ethical, political, constitutional and economic questions at both the national and international level.

This course is unusual in the extent to which it integrates all these approaches with a rigorous examination of the legal issues, making it suitable for all with a wide interest in the area as well as those wishing to specialise in and become practitioners of taxation and/or corporate law.

Tax law is central to all businesses and of significance to many business transactions. It helps to shape business law and many commercial decisions. The Corporate Tax Law and Policy course is suitable not only for tax specialists but also for all students interested in business and commercial law at a practical or theoretical level. The course aims to introduce students to the issues surrounding taxation of domestic and multi-national corporations as well as that of unincorporated businesses. It uses UK tax law as a starting point for a broader study of tax principles, concepts and policy issues relevant to all tax systems at a national level. Using the same starting point, the course also examines some of the problems surrounding cross-border taxation (‘international taxation’) and the significant impact of EU law on business taxation. Detailed legal issues are studied in depth, always placed in their theoretical, economic and business context. Critical analysis of the policy underlying the law and the way it is implemented is encouraged, as is the introduction of comparative material from other jurisdictions. The course is therefore appropriate for students from a variety of backgrounds, whether or not they have studied tax before. It is regularly taken successfully by BCL and MJur students and MLFs also find that the course fits well with their other studies.

The course is taught by Judith Freedman, Pinsent Masons Professor of Taxation Law, and Dr. Glen Loutzenhiser, University Lecturer in Tax Law, with  lectures from leading researchers at the Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation, and from other distinguished tax practitioners (including QCs and partners at leading law and accounting firms) and visiting academics. Dr Loutzenhisr  is the joint author of the  textbook used for the course. For further information please contact Professor Freedman at

No prior study of tax law, company law or economics is required, although those with no knowledge of company law may need to do a small amount of background reading, on which advice will be given. Students who have studied tax as undergraduates in Oxford or elsewhere will usually find the course builds on their previous studies well. There will be NO CALCULATIONS. Students must be prepared to read many types of material and consider how policy issues and technical law interact. UK tax law, which forms a key component of the course, is statute based, so legislation must be studied, but case law is also important. Readings from public finance and accounting literature will be recommended on some topics: these will be accessible without specialist knowledge. Many of the readings will be available electronically and detailed reading lists, materials and guidance are posted onWeblearn. The syllabus is wide and the subject fast moving, so that the precise focus may vary from year to year.

Central themes are

  • The tax base- i.e. what should be taxed and when? If we are to tax profit, how should this be defined? What are the alternative bases for taxation?
  • The unit of taxation i.e. who should be taxed? The individual? The single company? The corporate group as a whole? A multi-national group as a whole? The ultimate shareholders? Consumers?
  • How are taxes at each level integrated with each other?
  • What are the special problems of small business taxation?
  • What distortions and problems are encountered in corporation tax, especially corporate financing, and how are these used in tax planning - e.g. the debt/equity differential; use of tax incentives; corporate residence; transfer pricing in multinational groups?
  • Who should do the taxing and set the rules? How should taxation be allocated between jurisdictions in the light of increasing mobility of capital and technological developments? What is the role of national governments, international bodies such as the European Union, the EU Court of Justice and the OECD? What is the role of double taxation treaties? Is there a future for a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base in the EU?
  • What is tax avoidance in a business context and how, and to what extent, should it be restricted? To what extent and how can this be done by national tax authorities and what forms of international co-operation are possible for controlling transfer pricing, the use of low tax areas and similar activities?

The examination format allows students to focus on areas and approaches that interest them, although the entire course must be studied to gain a complete overview and understanding. The teaching consists of lectures and seminars spread over Michaelmas and Hilary terms with two or three lectures in Trinity Term. Some of the lectures provide background structure for the seminars and some are given by very distinguished guest lecturers drawn from practice and academia. There are four tutorials given by the course lecturers - one in MT and three in TT. Written work is set and marked for each tutorial.

For an excellent book on the need for radical reform of tax law, see the Mirrlees Review

You could also visit the Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation site for more materials and information about past and future events. The Centre hosts many guest lectures from leading  tax experts and  students are normally welcome to attend.

For full reading guides see Weblearn resources. Full reading guides are provided for each topic.

Criminal Justice, Security and Human Rights

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Human Rights Law

This course will look at the development of human rights principles in relation to the criminal justice system, looking in detail at the interaction between human rights discourse and the theory and practice of criminal justice. The focus will be upon the European Convention of Human Rights and the Human Rights Act 1998, in relation to the criminal justice system of England and Wales, but further comparative material from other jurisdictions will be drawn upon where relevant. After beginning with a critical look at human rights discourse, the course will adopt the method of detail – taking a number of discrete topics and examining each of them in terms of the theoretical underpinnings of the particular right, the human rights reasoning adopted by the courts, and the implications for criminal justice policy. Among the rights thus examined will be the privilege against self-incrimination, the right to privacy in relation to surveillance, and the protection of personal liberty with respect to imprisonment. The course will end by drawing out specific themes relating to human rights and anti-terrorist measures, and more generally the interface between human rights and security concerns.

Teaching will be delivered in the form of weekly seminars, held in the first six weeks of Michaelmas and Hilary terms. All students enrolled in this course are expected to attend these seminars, and to read and think about the assigned materials in advance of the seminar. The seminar will be introduced by a Faculty member, followed by discussion, usually based around a set of questions distributed in advance. Tutorials in this subject will be available in the first four weeks of Trinity Term.

European Business Regulation: the law of the EU's internal market

Please see also the 'what we do' page for European Union Law

This course examines the legal basis of the "level playing field" of the internal market of the European Union, covering the law of free movement across borders (goods, establishment and services), as well as competence to regulate the internal market, with special reference to the function of harmonisation of laws. Some or all of selected topics in public procurement, consumer law, company law, intellectual property, state aids and energy law will be addressed. The principal course objective is to enable students to acquire knowledge and understanding of the law in relation to the above subject matter, and to be able to discuss critically at an advanced level the legal and policy issues arising therefrom - including in particular the relationship between the judicial and the legislative contributions to the making of the EU's internal market.


The normal pattern of teaching involves seminars and lectures in Michaelmas and Hilary Terms, and tutorials in Trinity Term. The teaching group includes, but is not necessarily limited to, Professor S R Weatherill, Dr Angus Johnston , Dr Wolf-Georg Ringe, Professor D A Wyatt, Dr C Quigley, Professor S Enchelmaier, and Professor Katja Ziegler.

European Private Law: Contract (not offered in 2015-16)

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Comparative Law

European Private Law is an emerging and dynamic subject. It concerns the gradual approximation and harmonisation of the national private laws of the European Union's Member States, one of the most fascinating contemporary developments in the law. The Europeanisation of private law has two dimensions. One is fairly imminent and extremely relevant to legal practice. It concerns the implications of existing legislation and case-law emanating from the organs of the EU for national private laws. The other is more forward-looking and rather of a scholarly nature. It relates to a number of academic proposals for common European rules and principles in the area of private law, based on thorough comparative research. Thus European Private Law combines issues from at least three branches of legal scholarship, ie European Law, (national) Private Law and Comparative Law.

The course attempts to combine these disciplines, constantly approaching particular problems from a European point of view as well as from the perspective of various national private laws, thus necessarily adopting a comparative approach. The course first considers fundamental questions relating to the desirability, the constitutional legitimacy and the feasibility of the harmonisation of Private Law in Europe. An overview of the existing state of European Private Law, the imminent developments and the long-term proposals by various groups of academics is provided. The main part of the course consists in the study of a limited number of specific substantive issues taken from one of the core areas of private law, the law of contract. These are studied, as far as possible, with reference to primary materials, ie legislation and case law, and are likely to include topics such as pre-contractual liability, formation of contract, third parties in contract, mistake, good faith, standard terms, supervening events, breach of contract and remedies. Examples from national legal systems will mainly be drawn from English, French and German law. If, however, another legal system offers an interesting and original solution this will also be taken into account.

This approach already indicates that the course does not aspire to cover the whole of contract law with all its, say, constitutional and procedural implications, in all or even the most important European legal systems, but is rather of a more topical nature. The search is for – common or diverging – solutions to legal problems arising in all legal systems (including EU law and recent proposals for further harmonisation). These are looked at both from a rather technical point of view and with respect to the underlying principles so that a balance between ‘black letter’ law and general policy issues is struck. Participants will thus be in a position to evaluate the status quo of European contract law(s), the potential for further harmonisation and the methodological implications of this process. The principal objective of the course is to enable students to acquire knowledge and understanding in the area of European Private Law and to discuss and assess critically at an advanced level the legal and policy issues arising therefrom. Participants may expect to gain a deeper understanding of the nature of contract law, basic knowledge of the major European traditions in this area of the law and the ability to master a wide range of strongly heterogeneous sources – all of which are competences and skills of increasing importance in a Europe growing together.

European Private Law: Tort (not offered in 2015-16)

Please see also the 'what we do' page for European Union Law

European Private Law: Tort is concerned with the comparative study of tort/delict within a European framework. The so-called Europeanisation of private law has two dimensions. One concerns the implications of existing legislation and case-law emanating from the organs of the EU for national private laws (eg product liability (Dir 85/374), environmental liability (Dir 2004/35), liability of the Member States and the non-contractual liability of the European Union). The other is of a scholarly nature and relates to various academic proposals for common European rules and principles in the area of private law based on comparative research: the European Group on Tort Law and the Study Group on a European Civil Code have both independently from another introduced proposals for restatements of European tort law.



Please see also the 'what we do' page for Judicial Process

The Law of Evidence is essentially the same in all common law jurisdictions. Lawyers need to have a good command of this area of the law since problems tend to arise unexpectedly, especially in the course of trials, and because the subject engages important questions of due process and of fundamental rights.

The course stresses the principled theoretical foundations of common law Evidence doctrine governing criminal trials. Traditional topics within the Law of Evidence, such as the burden of proof, hearsay, privilege against self-incrimination and character evidence, will be elucidated in terms of their underlying rationales, taking account of legislative developments as well as precedent. Attention will also be given to the continuing human rights revolution in English criminal procedure.

Although the law of England and Wales provides the background against which the basic concepts of evidence law are explored, the discussion of policies and of foundational principles goes well beyond English law and is designed to illuminate criminal procedure across the common law world and to stimulate comparison with civilian systems. Notwithstanding the stress that the course places on principle, it will enable students to acquire a sound understanding of the operation of discrete rules, such as hearsay, self-incrimination, confessions and bad character. Students from non-common law jurisdictions would not only gain an insight into English criminal procedure but will also become better equipped to evaluate the arrangements of their own systems.

In all jurisdictions the subject is in constant ferment with new codes and various reforms under consideration or in the course of implementation. Since the subject throws into relief the tension between the efficient resolution of disputes, on the one hand, and on the other the imperatives of fairness, due process and respect for fundamental rights, it is never short of topicality or fierce controversy. The course will enable students to engage in these debates.

Whilst the law of evidence plays a much less important role than it once did in many types of civil trial, the course includes reference to some of the rules and principles that remain significant in civil proceedings. There are therefore areas of overlap between evidence in criminal and civil proceedings. The plan below includes lectures on secret evidence and on statistical evidence, which are also of interest to students taking the civil procedure course. Similarly, the civil procedure course includes some topics that are of relevance to evidence students, such as legal professional privilege, experts and the right to an independent and impartial tribunal. These are open to students taking the evidence course.

For the first time this year the evidence course will be delivered by an international team of leading scholars in the field of evidence, as well as by Oxford scholars. We are especially pleased by the participation of Professor Dyson Heydon, retired Justice of the Australian High Court and Visiting Professor at Oxford University, who will be offering tutorials as well as giving lectures.

Lecture Plan

Michaelmas Term:

Professor Paul Roberts: Principles of criminal evidence: presumption of innocence (4 lectures and one seminar)

Dr Katharine Grevling: Confessions and the right to silence (8 lectures)

Hilary Term:

Dr Katharine Grevling: Illegally obtained evidence (8 lectures)

Professor Dyson Heydon: Hearsay (4 lectures)

Professor Roderick Bagshaw: Secret evidence (4 lectures)

Dr Amit Pundik: Statistical evidence (4 lectures)

Trinity Term:

Professor John Spencer: Vulnerable witnesses, and complainants’ character (2 seminars)

Professor Mike Redmayne: Accused’s character (1 seminar)

Professor Andrew Choo: The right to confrontation and hearsay – a comparative perspective (1 seminar)


Tutorials will be offered by Professor Dyson Heydon in Hilary Term. Tutorials in Michaelmas Term, and possibly in Trinity Term, will be offered by Professor Andrew Choo and a Faculty graduate teaching assistant.


Intellectual Property Law

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Intellectual Property Law

The course in Intellectual Property Law covers all the main forms of intellectual property (principally, copyright, trade mark and unfair competition, and patent, but we also touch on trade secrets). It explores the theoretical foundations of and justification for the different rights as well as their application in a number of settings. Intellectual property industries now make up a sizable proportion of the global economy. And the most contested issues in intellectual property law are closely connected to developments throughout the arts and technology, as well as to evolutions in marketing and popular culture. Thus the course will be of interest to students from a number of backgrounds and with a variety of interests. In the United Kingdom, intellectual property law is increasingly Europeanised, so we necessarily examine the European instruments and case law that shape UK law. And because the content of intellectual property law is increasingly framed by international obligations and evolves with some regard to developments in other countries, the course also has an international and comparative dimension. The course is suitable for students with or without undergraduate experience of IP law. It is taught by Professor Graeme Dinwoodie, Professor Ansgar Ohly, Dr Justine Pila, Dr Dev Gangjee, Dr. Emily Hudson and Ms. Daniela Simone in a series of lectures, seminars and tutorials over Michaelmas, Hilary and Trinity Terms. Teaching is through sixteen seminars. The seminars are supported by introductory lectures (one at the beginning of the course and the others are strategically situated throughout the course), and by the provision of six tutorials. Reading lists are posted using Weblearn. With prior permission, it may also be possible to accommodate a small number of auditors in the undergraduate Copyright, Trade Mark and Patents seminars of Dr. Pila, Dr. Gangjee, and Lord Hoffmann; for permission as regards Copyright and Patents, please write to Dr Pila, and as regards Trade Marks please write to Dr. Gangjee. (MJur students may enrol in an undergraduate IP option provided they are not taking this M Jur course in Intellectual Property Law.)  Note that this course has sometimes previously been called International IP Law, or European IP Law.

The course will be taught by Professor Dinwoodie, Professor Ohly, Dr Gangjee, Dr Hudson, Dr Pila and Ms. Simone in a series of lectures, seminars and tutorials held in Michaelmas, Hilary and Trinity Terms.

International and European Employment Law

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Labour Law

This course has the aim of providing a general understanding of international labour or employment law. For this purpose, the course compares and contrasts international labour standards with those of the EU, particularly by examining the interaction between the international labour standards which have been developed and maintained by the International Labour Organisation and those of the EU's laws and policies.

Recent decades have witnessed a series of transformations of the aims of the European Union. The founding assumption in the Treaty of Rome that economic integration would naturally bring about social development has been abandoned. The Treaty of Amsterdam included a proper legal basis for EU employment law and strengthened and expanded EU equality law. The Treaty of Lisbon elevated the status of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, with its extensive social and labour rights content. Yet, the social dimension of the EU remains contested, and arguably subordinated, to policies designed to maximize the competitiveness and flexibility of the European labour market, in particular in order to create employment under the European Employment Strategy. Meanwhile, significant evolutions have also occurred in the policies and strategies of the ILO itself; and all these evolutions now have to respond to a growing sense of economic and social crisis which is both European and global.

This course aims to develop a critical perspective whereby students can assess these developments against the background of international labour rights and labour standards, including those of the International Labour Organisation and the Council of Europe (both ECHR and European Social Charter and Revised European Social Charter). It will begin with an examination of the development of the roles of the ILO and the EU in employment law from a historical, theoretical and institutional perspective, and proceed to focus on particular rights and issues, most notably, the right to collective bargaining and action and strike; the right to participate in enterprise governance; the right to job security and ‘fair and just working conditions’; and the right to equality in employment across various grounds, in particular sex, race, age, disability, sexual orientation and religion. These rights will be studied in depth to illustrate the complex interplay between the EU and international norms, and between various forms and sources of protection.

The course does not presuppose that students should have taken an undergraduate labour law or EU law course. The course will be taught in a varied format, including six or more seminars in Michaelmas Term and six or more in Hilary Term. The teaching is coordinated by Dr Alan Bogg, and the course will this year be taught by him with Dr Cathryn Costello, Professor Anne Davies, Professor Mark Freedland and Professor Sandra Fredman. Other academics will also contribute from time to time in areas of their particular expertise. There will be tutorials to back up the seminars, each student receiving to up to four tutorials from a wide menu. These tutorials are offered throughout the academic year, in order to give practice in writing essays in this subject.

Any students who would like to discuss this course further are encouraged to contact one of the members of the teaching group.

International Commercial Arbitration

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Public International Law

In a world of increasing global trade and commerce arbitration has become the preferred mechanism for resolving transnational commercial disputes. As global transactions have expanded they also have become more complex. Scholars, arbitrators and courts around the globe have developed highly sophisticated solutions to respond to these challenges making international commercial arbitration one of the most fascinating developments in the law. The course will study international commercial arbitration within its international and national legal frameworks from the substantive and procedural law point of view.

Starting with the study of international instruments such as the New York Convention the course will then examine how different national legal systems have treated international commercial arbitration. The course aims to focus on a comparison of the approaches taken by US courts and the national courts of Europe. International commercial arbitration often exposes marked differences between the common and the civil law yet the body of law being created in common and civil law jurisdictions forms an arbitral ‘ius commune’ – a common body of a globally applicable international arbitration law. In order to explore the real or perceived advantages of international commercial arbitration over transnational litigation the course intends to examine the problems commonly associated with transnational litigation such as service of process, jurisdiction, lis pendens and recognition of judgments. Moreover, the course aspires to introduce the theoretical foundations of international commercial arbitration and discuss the repercussions international commercial arbitration may have for national legal orders. The course will cover every stage in an arbitral proceeding from the arbitration agreement, the arbitral proceeding to the arbitral award and its recognition and enforcement.

International Criminal Law

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Public International Law

One of the most significant developments in international law and international relations during the past quarter century has been the emergence of a new international legal order based on a robust concept of international criminal justice. With the establishment of a number of international and hybrid national-international criminal courts to try those accused of genocide, crimes against humanity, and other violations of international law, the international community has demonstrated a commitment to ensuring accountability and upholding the rule of law. At the same time, when and how international criminal law is enforced, the role of international justice in relation to ongoing conflicts and post-conflict societies, and the future of international criminal justice remain the subject of intense debate. This course will provide a historical perspective on the rise of international criminal justice as well as an overview of a number of discrete topics in international criminal law and justice, including the bodies of law applied in international criminal tribunals, the challenges involved in creating a functioning and effective international criminal court system, and key developments in international criminal law. The focus of the course will be on the work of the first two international criminal courts of the modern era, the tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda, as well as on the permanent International Criminal Court. The course will consist of both introductory lectures and case discussion of jurisprudence on genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.      

This course consists of two parts. The first comprises lectures followed by discussion. The second consists of discussion of case law of international criminal tribunals organized by the principal crimes and modes of liability. The International Criminal Court will form a subject of one of the lectures but its jurisprudence is still too limited for us to focus upon. In Part II of our course, Students will be the lead discussants.  The timing and the order of discussion is subject to change.

International Dispute Settlement

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Public International Law

The course on International Dispute Settlement is concerned with the peaceful settlement of international disputes, including inter-State disputes, and disputes between States and individuals or corporations.

The first part of the course is dedicated to the study of a range of institutions concerned with dispute settlement such as arbitral tribunals, the International Court of Justice, and more specialised bodies such as the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, the World Trade Organisation, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and other institutions. The institutions selected for study vary from year to year.

The second part of the course provides an outline of the principles of procedural law that operate in international tribunals, including international commercial arbitration tribunals. This part of the course involves the study of issues such as jurisdiction and admissibility, the determination of law governing procedure and the law governing the merits of a case, remedies, the recognition and enforcement of judgments and awards, and the review of judgments and awards.

Teaching consists of weekly seminars in the Michaelmas and Hilary Terms, in some of which students will present short papers for discussion by the group as a whole. There will be four tutorials over the course of the year. The examination is held at the same time as the other BCL/MJur examinations, in the summer vacation.

Detailed handouts and reading lists are distributed during the year. The most recent handouts are posted on the Faculty’s intranet.

International Economic Law

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Public International Law

This course introduces students to the main principles and institutions of international economic law. It focuses primarily on the institutions and substantive law of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). In addition to introducing participants to the major legal disciplines under the GATT/WTO and the basic principles and cores concepts of the GATT/WTO (Base on in-depth study of the relevant GATT/WTO case law), the course considers the underlying philosophy of free trade and a number of the controversies concerning the future evolution of the WTO and its relationship to globalisation, regionalism, and the attempt by States to achieve other policy objectives (such as protection of the environment). No prior knowledge of international law or economics is necessary. Students without such knowledge will be directed to basic reading in these fields.

Lectures will be delivered in Michaelmas and Hilary Terms. Tutorials will be scheduled in due course. The examination is held at the same time as the other BCL/MJur examinations. Detailed reading lists are distributed at the start of the course.

International Law and Armed Conflict

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Public International Law

This course will examine the international law issues which arise in relation to armed conflicts. The course covers the law relating to whether States may use force, the law that applies during armed conflicts, as well as other legal problems that arise with regard to armed conflicts. One of the themes running through the course will be how international law regulates cross-border conflicts involving non-State actors. The course will be divided, broadly speaking, into two parts. Part one will consider the international legal issues relating to whether and when States are entitled to use armed force. In this part of the course, we will examine the content of the prohibition of the use of force contained in the UN Charter as well as the exceptions to that prohibition. In particular, we will examine the scope of self-defence in international law, (especially as it applies to attacks by non-State groups). Questions to be considered include the criteria for a lawful response in self-defence and the legality of anticipatory/preemptive self defence. This part of the course will also consider other possible exceptions to the prohibition of the use of force - such as the doctrine of humanitarian intervention or responsibility to protect. The last section of the first part of the course will examine the powers of the United Nations to authorize the use of force for peacekeeping and peace enforcement.

The second part of the course examines the law that applies during an armed conflict. We will address the distinction between the law applicable to international armed conflicts and that applicable to non-international armed conflicts. We also consider the extent to the which the so called “Global War on Terror: should be considered an armed conflict to which international humanitarian law applies. In this part, we will also gain an overview of the “Geneva law” relating to the humanitarian protection of victims of war and the “Hague law” relating to the means and methods of warfare. In particular, we will examine the distinction between combatants and non-combatants and the law that applies to the detention of lawful and unlawful combatants in time of armed conflict. We then turn to the law that applies to the conduct of hostilities, examining in particular the rules relating to targeting and weaponry. Finally, we consider the extent to which international human rights law applies in time of armed conflict.

International Law of the Sea

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Public International Law

The Law of the Sea course is concerned with public international law and not with commercial shipping law.

The course provides a comprehensive grounding in the subject, combining the study of maritime zones (such as the territorial sea, Exclusive Economic Zone, Continental Shelf and High Seas), with the study of the main bodies of law regulating users of the seas (such as navigation, fishing, pollution and military activities).

The teaching involves relating the problems of the law of the sea to underlying principles and policy factors and to other relevant areas of general international law, including sources, the law of treaties and principles of state responsibility.

The teaching consists of weekly classes in the Michaelmas and Hilary Terms, in some of which students will present short papers for discussion by the group as a whole.

Lectures/Seminars: each is one two-hour session.

Jurisprudence and Political Theory

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Jurisprudence

Students taking Jurisprudence and Political Theory have the opportunity to participate in wide-ranging but analytically precise discussions of the presuppositions and methods of legal, political and therefore also, to some extent, moral philosophy, and of related social theories in their bearing on the institutions, norms and methods of legal systems. The syllabus covers the concepts of law, legal system, legal right and legal obligation; the nature of adjudication and judicial discretion; the range and limits of law as a means of social control; the individual’s moral duty to obey the law; the individual’s moral rights against his or her government; and the justification of political (including judicial) authority. Much of, for example, Dworkin’s Law’s Empire, Raz’s The Morality of Freedom, and Finnis’s Aquinas was earlier presented and discussed in this course’s seminars, which provide a good context for critical testing of advanced work-in-progress. The seminars do not necessarily cover all of the topics mentioned in the syllabus, and of those covered some may be covered in much greater depth than others. Nevertheless the syllabus gives a good general indication of the field to which the seminars and the eventual list of examination essay topics relate.

 The course is a philosophy course, and in that sense is a specialist rathar than a generalist pursuit. Through it students may expect to develop some of the skills and dispositions of professional philosophers. An acquaintance with some undergraduate-level jurisprudence is presupposed; those who enter on this course without having formally studied jurisprudence should prepare themselves by a careful reading of at least some of the following (or comparable) works: Hart, The Concept of Law, Dworkin, Taking Rights Seriously or Law’s Empire, Raz, The Authority of Law, or Finnis, Natural Law and Natural Rights. But this list should not lead anyone to think that, in the course itself, the topics to be discussed are narrowly ‘jurisprudential’ or that the authors to be read are narrowly ‘Oxford’. Students with an Oxford Jurisprudence background, and others, could well prepare for the course by careful reading of (for example) Rawls, A Theory of Justice or Political Liberalism, Nozick, Anarchy, State and Utopia, Raz, The Morality of Freedom, Nagel, Equality and Partiality, Cohen, Rescuing Justice and Equality, or Walzer, Spheres of Justice.

 Seminars specifically designed for students on this course are convened by Dr J Dickson, Professor T A O Endicott, Dr P Eleftheriadis, Professor J M Finnis, Professor A M Honore, Professor J Gardner, Professor L Green, and Dr N Stavropoulos. However, those taking the paper are also encouraged to participate in seminars taking place elsewhere in the university, particularly in some of those advertised on the Philosophy Lecture List. The same holds for lectures. Those who are not conversant with the basics of political philosophy, in particular, should consider whether to attend lectures on the undergraduate courses in Ethics (see the Philosophy Lecture List) and the Theory of Politics (see the Politics Lecture List). Lectures from the undergraduate Jurisprudence course in the Law Faculty would also help those who need to be more familiar with the basics of legal philosophy.

 This course is among those supported with detailed material on the Legal Philosophy in Oxford website


Law and Society in Medieval England

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Legal History

This course offers an in-depth study of core areas of property and obligations law in later thirteenth and early fourteenth century England and their relationships - through legislative and judicial change and legal writing - to the medieval society of which they were part.

The topics covered are: law and the family; family settlements; lordship and ownership; property remedies; the enforcement of tenurial obligations; debts and securities; contracts, leases and property management; wrongs; problems of jurisdiction.

This course was formerly run as Legal History: Legislative Reform of the Early Common Law.

The materials studied are statutes, case reports, and treatises and instructional literature from the period, together with the modern academic literature on the topics. All the sources used are provided in translation, so that knowledge of Latin and French is not required. Prior knowledge of the history of English law is not required.

The primary teaching method is by eight fortnightly seminars running from mid Michaelmas to early Trinity terms.

This course is taught by Dr Paul Brand and Dr Mike Macair.

Law in Society

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Socio-legal Studies

Considering law in society means asking a number of questions: What does law do? Where does it come from? What forms does it take? How do we understand its meaning and significance? Socio-legal scholars discuss the role of law in providing stability to private relations, law as the foundation of social order, and law as an instrument for directing society and solving social issues. They also investigate the social origins of different laws. Anthropologists may be more interested in the forms that law takes, and matters of meaning and symbolism. Asking these questions ultimately leads scholars to address the issue (whether explicitly or implicitly) of what law is. Using empirical studies as the basis for such enquiries is what largely distinguishes these projects from those of legal philosophers.

The first part of the course (4 weeks in MT) introduces some of the main sociological thinkers to have addressed these questions, including Durkheim (the notion of law as a mirror of social life and the basis of social solidarity), Weber (law as an instrument of the ruler), and Ehrlich (living law). We will use case studies, along with the writings of more recent scholars, such as Roberts, Cotterrell, and Galligan, to assess the relevance of their approaches for contemporary scholarship and social issues.

The second part of the course (8 weeks in HT) uses anthropological and historical case studies to address the same questions. The focus is largely on understanding the different systems of law found in other societies and historical periods. How are we to understand the laws and legal processes of non-literate societies, for example, or the codes of medieval European kings, or the feuding relations of contemporary Tibetan pastoralists? What do they mean and do, and where do they come from? On what grounds can we even define them as law? We do not, however, neglect contemporary studies from the western world, also considering studies of court use, the appeal of human rights, and new forms of transnational law. The diversity of such examples challenges us to ask what unites them as examples of law. Asking about what is unfamiliar causes us to reflect on the parameters and cultural specificity of our own concepts of law and students will be encouraged to think constructively and critically about familiar legal phenomena and their universal application.

The course is convened by Dr Fernanda Pirie of the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies. There are 4 seminars in Michaelmas term (odd weeks) and 8 in Hilary term (weekly).

Assessment is by a three hour written examination.

Legal Concepts in Financial Law

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Corporate Law

The purpose of this course is to explore the most significant legal concepts and private law issues encountered in commercial finance and in commercial and investment banking. . This is particularly topical, as many of these issues have been brought into sharp focus by the recent financial crisis.

Students will be introduced to the various concepts in contract, property and fiduciary law which are used to allocate, manage and transfer risk in transactions on capital markets and in commercial banking. They will also be invited to consider the legal nature of property, money and payment, and the conceptual basis for corporate personality and limited liability. By examining a range of transactions, and critically considering relevant case law and legislation in the light of market practice, this course will provide a deep understanding of the part that private law plays in the operation of financial markets. Transactional structures covered will include loans, guarantees, documentary credits and first demand bonds,, security, debt issues on the capital markets (and other intermediated securities), derivatives and structured finance.

The focus will be on English law, although the law of other jurisdictions (particularly common law jurisdictions) will be studied where appropriate for criticism and comparison.

Whilst the course will primarily be a doctrinal law course, involving close study of cases and legislation and analysis of their underlying principles, the reading lists will contain a significant amount of secondary material examining wider policy issues, different theoretical approaches and possible legal reform.

The course will be taught in eleven seminars, each supported by lectures, and four tutorials. Teaching will be by Professor Louise Gullifer, Mr Christopher Hare and Mr Richard Salter QC, with input from others practising in this area of law.

Medical Law and Ethics

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Medical Law and Ethics

The Medical Law and Ethics course provides students with the opportunity to develop a critical understanding of the legal and ethical difficulties that arise in the provision of health care. The primary focus will be on UK law, but the issues to be covered have global relevance and we encourage students to contribute insights from other jurisdictions wherever possible. Students must be prepared to read many types of material and to consider how legal, ethical and policy issues interact. There are no prerequisites for this course.

Topics to be covered include consent to treatment, abortion, ownership of body parts and organ donation, death and dying, medical negligence, public health, and the rationing of health care resources in the UK National Health Service. As the course progresses, we will also encourage students to be aware of the current issues in medical research and healthcare provision that are being reported in the media.

The course will be taught by Dr Imogen Goold and Prof Jonathan Herring with contributions from other members of the faculties of law and medicine in Oxford, and visiting speakers. There will be twelve seminars, eight in Michaelmas Term and four in Hilary Term, and four tutorials, one in Michaelmas and three in Trinity. The seminars will involve extensive class participation and the tutorials will provide an opportunity to practise essay writing and to prepare for the examination.

Personal Taxation

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Tax

Taxation comprises a difficult and complex mass of material. It is hard to deny that proposition, but the Oxford Personal Tax course is designed to be questioning and challenging. For a start, only a limited range of taxes is within the syllabus: income tax on trusts and annual payments, capital gains tax and inheritance tax. Legislative and judicial methods of countering tax avoidance are dealt with in depth. We attempt to teach the material in such a way that the detail is much less important than the cases and the ideas underpinning the law. Company taxation is not covered in the Personal Tax course, but is dealt with in the Corporate and Business Taxation course. The two tax courses on the BCL are complementary but are also completely freestanding so may be taken alone or together depending on the student's interest. It is not essential to have studied tax previously in order to take either the Personal Taxation course or Corporate and Business Taxation but students who have studied the subject at undergraduate level will find that the material in the graduate courses will flow on well from their initial courses and will enhance their existing knowledge of taxation. A theme that runs through a significant proportion of the course is the way in which trusts are affected by taxation, particularly in comparison with taxation of individuals. This involves considerable use of trusts cases and theories - not surprising when one remembers the number of trusts cases that have arisen in a taxation context. Accordingly, it is not advisable to study Personal Taxation unless you have covered Trusts already or are taking it as an option in the MJur. Personal Taxation offers the opportunity to consider an almost entirely statutory area and study the reaction of the judiciary to it. This is particularly revealing in the fast developing area of judicial reaction to tax avoidance schemes. This is an area of intense judicial activity and disagreement, at its heart being the question as to how far the courts should go to defeat schemes that set out to frustrate the intended effect of taxes or exemptions from taxation. This is an area that benefits from comparisons with other countries, although most of Personal Taxation has its focus on purely English taxation provisions.

Lectures in Michaelmas and Hilary Terms set out to cover virtually the entirety of the syllabus. Tutorials are normally arranged after lectures are completed. There is a "Tax Problem Class" in Trinity Term which combines the objectives of developing the necessary skills to handle problem questions on taxation and of enabling seminar discussion of some of the more perplexing issues in the subject. Anyone who wishes to have further information before deciding whether to take Personal Taxation is welcome to contact Mr R J Smith (Magdalen College).

This course covers selected topics within (a) Income Tax; (b) Capital Gains Tax; (c) Inheritance Tax and other methods of taxing capital; (d) general responses to tax avoidance. The taxes are to be studied with particular reference to the taxation of gifts and settlements. Candidates will not be examined on the details of the Finance Bill or Act of the year of examination. Candidates are advised not to offer this paper unless they have studied the law of Trusts in their first law degree course. Income Tax comprises: (i) Principles of the general charge to tax on individuals and families: personal reliefs and allowances in general; (ii) taxation of settlors, trustees and beneficiaries; foreign element relating thereto. Capital Gains Tax comprises: (i) General charge to tax on individuals; (ii) disposals and acquisitions of assets in general; (iii) gifts and settlements; (iv) disposal on death and administration of estates; (v) computation of gains and losses in general (but not the rules relating to leasehold interests, or wasting assets); (vi) exemptions; (vii) foreign element. Inheritance Tax comprises: (i)historical background; (ii) general charge to tax on individuals; iii) settled property; (iv) administration of estates; (v) reliefs and exemptions; (vi) valuation; (vii) foreign element.

Philosophical Foundations of the Common Law

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Jurisprudence

This course explores the principles which may be thought to underlie each of the three areas it is concerned with – contract, tort, and the criminal law – and the relations between them.

Do notions such as causation, intention and foresight, which figure in all three areas, lend them doctrinal unity, or do these branches of the law represent different (complementary or conflicting) principles? For example: can one or other of them be understood as embodying principles of corrective justice, while the others are based on considerations of distributive justice? Does the law, in these areas, reflect moral concerns, or pursue efficiency or some other goal, or is it the case that no underlying principles can be discerned? Does the law make sense only in the light of certain assumptions about the nature of persons (e.g. that they are rational choosers, that they are autonomous beings)? These are some of the issues explored in this course.

The course presupposes knowledge of the basic doctrines of contract, tort, and criminal law. While some philosophical background might be helpful, it is not essential.

The main teaching is by seminars. At least two but not necessarily all three of the areas identified in the syllabus (criminal law, torts, contracts) are covered in depth in any given academic year. Up to four tutorials are also provided, and these are arranged centrally via the seminars. The course is among those supported with detailed material on the Faculty's Jurisprudence website

Principles of Civil Procedure

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Judicial Process

The aim of the course is to acquaint students with the fundamental principles of Civil Procedure. These principles are not specific to England but are common to all advanced systems of law. The operation and implications of these principles is discussed against the background of English law and the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights. A short introduction to English civil procedure is provided so that students not familiar with the English system could soon acquire a working knowledge. However, students coming from other jurisdiction are encouraged to consider how the principles and the ideas discussed in the lectures can play a part in their own home litigation systems.

 Both lectures and seminars involve active student participation. The course consists of approximately 20 lectures (most of 2 hours duration), 6 to 8 guest lectures and seminars and 4 tutorials. The lectures are normally held in Michaelmas and Hilary Terms and the seminars in Trinity Term. The lectures will be given by Professor Zuckerman and Dr Higgins. The seminars address central issues in contemporary procedure in England and elsewhere. The sessions are conducted by Professor Zuckerman with guest speakers, such as scholars, practitioners and judges from England and abroad. Tutorials are given in all three terms and may be spread over two or three terms. Tutorials will be taken with Dr Higgins, Professor Zuckerman and a graduate teaching assistant.

 The course contains the following topics:

  1. General theory of civil adjudication
  2. The common law right to fair trial and procedural implications of the European Convention on Human Rights
  3. An introduction to English civil procedure
  4. Adversarial litigation; case management and sanctions for non-compliance with rules or orders; fraudulent litigants
  5. Summary adjudication
  6. Interim remedies including super injunctions, freezing orders and search orders
  7. Disclosure
  8. Exceptions to disclosure including public interest immunity, closed material proceedings, legal professional privilege and privilege against self-incrimination
  9. Expert evidence
  10. Collective redress including class actions
  11. Appeals and finality of litigation
  12. Costs: full cost shifting, partial (fixed) cost shifting, qualified one way cost shifting and the no-costs rule; Funding: hourly fees, conditional fees, referral fees, damages based agreements and third party commercial funding; Protection from costs: part 36 offers; security for costs; wasted costs orders.
  13. Litigants in person
  14. Alternative dispute resolution (Time permitting)


Principles of Financial Regulation

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Law and Finance

Financial regulation is subject to rapid change, and its optimal content is hotly debated. This course will introduce you to the underlying principles which various forms of financial regulation seek to implement. The focus is on the financing of firms and their interaction with capital markets. Students completing this course will be able to understand the regulatory goals of market efficiency, investor protection, financial stability and competition, and the principal regulatory strategies that are employed to try to bring these about in relation to financial markets and financial institutions. The course will conclude with a consideration of the structure of financial regulators, both at the domestic and international level. Students having taken the course will be able to assess critically new developments in financial regulation and their implementation in novel contexts.

Private Law and Fundamental Rights

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Law of Obligations

The enactment of the Human Rights Act 1998 and the adoption of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU as a binding treaty has provoked new questions about the relation between fundamental rights and the legal principles and rules elaborated in fields of private law, principally contract, tort, and property.  Questions that have been raised include: Is private law based on or derived from fundamental rights?  Can fundamental rights provide a source for new private law rights and obligations? Does the enactment of fundamental rights in a legal order collapse the distinction between public and private law, and if so, what are the consequences for theories of law? Do fundamental rights have the same meaning in a horizontal dispute between private parties?  How should the fundamental rights of private parties be balanced against each other?  As well as examining these broad questions, the course critically examines and assesses the case-law concerning the impact of fundamental rights on contract law, tort law, property law and other fields of private law.  Cases and examples are drawn primarily from the common law in the UK and decisions of the Court of Justice of the EU and the European Court of Human Rights, but selective comparisons from other jurisdictions are occasionally introduced.

Punishment, Security and the State

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Criminology

The proposed course aims to provide an in-depth understanding of the theoretical underpinnings, justifications, and contemporary practices of punishment and security. The subject is approached from criminological, socio-legal, philosophical, and historical perspectives. The course explores the role of the state in the exercise of its most coercive functions against individual citizens – whether punishing those found guilty of criminal wrongdoing or taking security measures against those deemed to pose a risk to the safety of the public and the nation.

In Michaelmas Term it will focus on ‘why we punish’ by examining major debates in penal theory concerning the justification and rationale for punishment (not least desert theory and its critics, communicative and consequentialist theories). The second half of the term will consider ‘how we punish’ by exploring diverse social, economic and political aspects of punishment and examining whether it is possible to do justice to difference.

In Hilary Term the focus will shift from punishment to the pursuit of security and critically examine what is meant by security (whether, for example, as pursuit, commodity, or public good). Successive seminars will consider whether the growth of markets in private security and the development of communal and personal security provision evidence the fragmentation or dispersal of state power. They will go on to examine exercises in state sovereignty in the name of risk management, counterterrorism, and migration and border control. These reassertions of state power permit significant intrusions into individual freedom and the deployment of exceptional measures and the course will address important questions about the limits of legality and the balancing of liberty and security.

In Trinity Term two final seminars will provide an opportunity for critical reflection and engagement with issues raised throughout the course. The first will examine the case for ‘civilizing security’ and consider how security should be pursued, distributed, and governed and by whom; the second returns to the question of punishment to explore the notion of penal excess and the case for penal moderation.

The course will be taught by 12 seminars and 4 tutorials spread across Michaelmas and Hilary Terms (six seminars and two tutorials in each) with 2 further summative seminars in Trinity providing an opportunity for critical reflection on the whole course. The standard exam for the BCL (ie, 3 hour closed book) will be set.

The focus of teaching will be the weekly seminar which all those taking the course are required to attend. Students will be expected to read and think about the assigned materials in advance of the seminar. The seminar will be introduced by a Faculty member, followed by discussion, usually based around a set of questions distributed in advance. In addition the Centre for Criminology organizes seminars during the academic year at which distinguished invited speakers discuss current research or major issues of policy. This programme is advertised on the Centre's website and all students are encouraged to attend.


Please see also the 'what we do' page for Socio-legal Studies

Regulation is at the core of how modern states seek to govern the activities of individual citizens as well as corporate and governmental actors. Broadly defined it includes the use of legal and non-legal techniques to manage social and economic risks. While regulation is traditionally associated with prescriptive law, public agencies and criminal as well as administrative sanctions, the politics of the shrinking state and deregulation have meant that intrusive and blunt forms of legal regulation have given way at times to facilitative, reflexive and procedural law which seeks to balance public and private interests in regulatory regimes. Policy debates have addressed whether there is actually too much, too little or the wrong type of regulation.

This course examines what role different forms of law play in contemporary regulatory regimes. It thereby analyses how legal regulation constructs specific relationships between law and society and how legal regulation is involved in mediating conflicts between private and public power. The first section of the course critically examines key conceptual approaches for understanding regulation. How can economic reasoning be employed in order to justify legal regulation? Does a focus on institutions help to understand the operation of regulatory regimes? What rationalities, and hence ‘governmentalities’ are involved in regulating through law? What role do emotions, such as trust, play in regulatory interactions? The second section of the course examines specific regulatory regimes against the background of the conceptual frameworks explored in the first section. This second section discusses ‘regulation in action’ in specific fields of current significance, such as: - the regulation of the legal profession, - the regulation of the carbon market in the EU - the regulation of the provision of health care in the UK - the regulation of education policy-making in the EU - the regulation of the internet - the regulation of housing The course thus provides an opportunity for students to examine the pervasive phenomenon of regulation with reference to different disciplinary perspectives, in particular law, sociology, politics and economics and to gain detailed knowledge of substantive regulatory law in specific fields of current relevance.

The course is taught through 15 two hour seminars - which provide opportunities for active student participation – over Michaelmas and Hilary terms. Four tutorials spread over Hilary and Trinity terms will support students’ exam preparation. The 3 hour written examination at the end of the course involves essay questions.

The convenor of the course is Dr. Bettina Lange and the course is taught by a small group of Faculty members. If you have any questions about the contents, approach or teaching methods of this course do not hesitate to contact me:, Room 280, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, Social Science Building, Manor Road.

Restitution of Unjust Enrichment

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Law of Obligations

Restitution of Unjust Enrichment is concerned with about how and when a claimant can compel a defendant to surrender an enrichment gained at the claimant’s expense. Long neglected, the subject has in recent years been one of the most exciting in the postgraduate curriculum. It draws its cases from areas of the law which have resisted rational analysis, largely because they have tenaciously preserved the language of an earlier age.

Common lawyers found themselves unable to escape from money had and received, money paid, and quantum meruit, while those on the chancery side became defensively fond of the unsolved mysteries of tracing and trusts arising by operation of law. In the result, down to earth questions about getting back money and value in other forms have been made to seem much more difficult than they need be. The aim of any course on restitution must be to try to understand what has really been going on and to play back that understanding to the courts in accessible modern language. These aims are helped by keeping an eye on the main lines of civilian solutions to the problems with which the common law has to wrestle.

Note that this course is concerned only with restitution of unjust enrichment. Restitution for wrongs is not part of the course and is dealt with in the Commercial remedies course.

Teaching is through twelve seminars. The seminars are supported by two introductory lectures and by the provision of four tutorials. A detailed account of the course is produced every year in and posted on this site. The subject of every seminar is set out, with a list of cases and other materials to be read, together with questions and problems intended to stimulate thought.

Roman Law (Delict) (not offered in 2015-16)

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Roman Law

The Roman Law option focuses on set texts from the Institutes and Digest. Its primary aim is to understand those texts and the ideas and methods of the great Roman jurists who wrote them. The secondary aim is, by comparison, to throw light on the law of our own time. It caters for the interests of those who are interested in making use of their classical background or of developing the knowledge of Roman law they have acquired by taking the ‘A Roman Introduction to Private Law’ course in Law Moderations, although it is not essential to have done the Roman Law course for Mods. It allows students to study in some detail the outlook and methods of reasoning of the classical jurists who provide the models on which professional legal argument has ever since been based. In practice this will lead to discuss fundamentals of the law of delicts/torts, aided by the comparison with English cases. The lectures are based, so far as the Roman law is concerned, on the set texts, in English translation. Indeed, one of the advantages of this course from the point of view of students is that the body of relevant texts and other authoritative material is more limited than it is in most, perhaps all, the other options. It is possible to concentrate on detail. In the examination candidates are required to comment on selections from the set translated texts and on questions regarding the literature given for the texts. Knowledge of Latin is not required or necessary, sensitivity for the philological aspects of the originals, when relevant, is. Much literature will quote Latin phrases but it practice this should not cause problems; for fully cited texts either the translation is present in the set texts or it is separately provided.

There will be seven seminars in Michaelmas Term, on quasi-delict, furtum and the lex Aquilia, and eight in Hilary Term on the lex Aquila, noxal liability and iniuria. Students will be offered four tutorials, to be arranged by their college tutors.

This subject cannot be taken by an Oxford graduate who has offered Roman Law in the Final Honour School.

The Roman and Civilian Law of Contracts

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Roman Law

The purpose of the course is to study the Roman Law of Contracts in detail, particularly the Law of Sale, and to examine, subsequently, on this basis, doctrinal and philosophical aspects of the Civilian law on contracts as it developed from ca. 1100 AD till the middle of the 19th century, with where possible a comparison with and excursus into English law.

The course is structured as follows: 1. General I. 2. General II: conditions, error, performance 3. Contractus litteris, Contractus re (loan for consumption [mutuum], loan for use [commodatum], deposit [depositum]). 4. Sale I: general, price, price must be certain, price must be real; the object (res); emptio spei and emptio rei speratae, res extra commercium, sale of goods of third party, sale of purchaser’s own thing, sale of debts; pacts. 5. Sale II: duties of the seller, duty to tranfer property, duty to deliver possession, latent defects, damages for non-delivery. 6. Sale III: transfer of possession/property, passing of risk, eviction. 7. Mandate, Partnership. 8. Contractus verbis: the stipulation, use of writing. With every sub-subject point of departure are the relevant Roman texts, with subsequently mediaeval and later commentaries, which will show how the texts were interpreted and eventually adapted to contemporary use. Out of the mass of commentaries several important and influential ones are chosen (like Bartolus, Voet). For application cases of the Roman-Dutch jurisdiction will also be chosen, which is still present as South-African law. In view that we rely basically on English translations (exception: Wolff in a French translation), much attention will be given to the basic texts (Digest) and the 17th and 18th century authors who have been translated.


Transnational Commercial Law (not offered in 2015-16)

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Commercial Law

With the growth of international trade has come a growing recognition of the benefits to be obtained through the harmonization of international trade law. Transnational commercial law consists of that set of rules, from whatever source, which governs international commercial transactions and is common to a number of legal systems. Such commonality is increasingly derived from international instruments of various kinds; such as conventions, EC directives and model laws, and from codifications of international trade usage adopted by contract, as exemplified by the Uniform Customs and Practice for Documentary Credits published by the International Chamber of Commerce and the Model Arbitration Rules issued by the UN Commission on International Trade Law. Underpinning these are the general principles of commercial law (lex mercatoria) to be extracted from uncodified international trade usage, from standard-term contracts formulated by international organisation and from common principles developed by the courts and legislatures of different jurisdictions.

The first part of the course concentrates on the general framework, policies and problems of transnational commercial law, while in the second part these are examined in the context of specific international trade conventions, model laws and contractual codes, so that the student gains a perception of the way transnational law comes into being and helps to bridge the gap between different legal systems.

The course will be taught by Dr Thomas Krebs (convenor) and Professor Stefan Vogenauer. There will be eight lectures in Michaelmas Term. There will then be a weekly two-hour seminar in Hilary Term. There will also be four tutorials. The lectures and seminars will examine the following main areas: General issues of harmonisation; Recurrent problems in harmonisation through conventions; Harmonisation through specific binding instruments (Vienna Sales Convention); Harmonisation through contract and institutional rules; Harmonisation through model laws; The future development of transnational commercial law.

Note. This course is open to a maximum of twenty-four students in any one year. If applications exceed this number, a ballot will be held.


A BCL, MJur or MLF student can offer a dissertation, in lieu of one law option. The dissertation must be written in English. It must not exceed 12,500 words which includes notes, but which does not include tables of cases or other legal sources. The subject must be approved by the Graduate Studies Committee. The Committee will take account of the subject matter and the availability of appropriate supervision. Candidates must submit the proposed title and description of the dissertation in not more than 500 words, not later than Monday, Week Minus Two of Michaelmas Term  to the Academic Administrator (Paul Burns).

You should be aware that the demand for supervision for such dissertations may exceed the supply, especially from particular Faculty members, and where this is the case a potential supervisor may elect to supervise only those dissertations which he or she judges most promising. Although in principle the option of offering a dissertation is open to all BCL, MJur and MLF students, therefore, in practice it is possible that some students who wish to offer a dissertation will be unable to do so, as a suitable supervisor with spare capacity cannot be found.

The dissertation (two copies) must be delivered to the Clerk of the Examination Schools for the attention of the Chairman of the BCL and MJur Examiners, or the Chairman of the MLF Examiners, as appropriate. It must arrive not later than noon on the Friday of fifth week of the Trinity Full Term in which the examination is to be taken.

The topic of your dissertation may (and often will) be within the area of one or more of your taught courses, and/or in an area which you have studied previously. But any part of the dissertation which you have previously submitted or intend to submit in connection with any other degree must be excluded from consideration by the BCL, MJur and MLF Examiners.

Although BCL students cannot take the List III courses, they are allowed to offer a dissertation within these fields. BCL students may offer a dissertation which does not fall into the field of any BCL course, if a suitable supervisor within the Faculty can be found. Candidates for the MJur will not normally be given approval to do a dissertation on a subject which falls within List I (those subjects which entail an advanced knowledge of the common law).

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