The course explores the foundations of property and trusts, and also developments going beyond the core topics typically explored in core or undergraduate courses. 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. 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.
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 teachers for debate and discussion.
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 analyses of the arguments.