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Administrative Law

Administrative Law is concerned primarily with judicial control of the activities of the executive branch of government. The main topics covered are: (1) the grounds on which decisions and rules made by the executive can be challenged in the court - some of these relate to the substance of the decision or rule and others to the procedure by which it was made; (2) the remedies which can be obtained by applicants challenging administrative decisions; (3) the liability of public authorities in contract and tort.

Some tutors also deal with tribunals, public local inquiries, next steps agencies, contracting out and public sector ombudsmen. Some of these topics are the subject of lectures, which also occasionally deal with more theoretical aspects of the subject. Administrative Law is now one of the compulsory standard subjects within the Final Honours School syllabus. It also covers material in the “foundations of legal knowledge” and so must be taken by those seeking a professional qualification in England and Wales. The subject is taught in tutorials arranged by your college tutor.

Compulsory for these programmes: BA in Jurisprudence, BA in Law with Law Studies in Europe, BA in Jurisprudence with Senior Status

Optional for these programmes: Diploma in Legal Studies, Magister Juris (MJur)

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Company Law

The company is one of the most important institutions in our society. There are over two million registered companies which, of course, vary radically in size and commercial significance ranging from the "one person" company to the large public companies. By virtually any measurement the company is the dominant vehicle through which business is conducted. There are a number of reasons for this but principally it is because it is a very flexible commercial institution and it is made conveniently and cheaply available.

The purpose of the course is to introduce students to the basic conceptual apparatus of company law and to analyse some of the policy issues raised in regulating this pervasive commercial form. It is important to note that the course is of relevance not only to those who wish to pursue a career as commercial or company lawyers, but also to those who have no such aspirations, as a knowledge of the company and how it works is relevant to many aspects of legal practice. The course involves an analysis of not only cases but also statute law and, although the Companies Act 2006 is among the largest statutes on the statute book, the course is not overly dominated by the study of statutory materials.

Optional for these programmes: BA in Jurisprudence, BA in Jurisprudence with Senior Status, Diploma in Legal Studies, Magister Juris (MJur)

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Comparative Private Law

Comparative Law is one of the most fascinating subjects in the legal syllabus. Comparative lawyers examine the differences and similarities of legal rules and doctrines across various legal systems. Students of comparative law soon realise that many of the legal issues that they have examined in the first two years of their degree are resolved in a very different manner in foreign jurisdictions.

English private law in particular has certain features that exist in a radically different shape, or are not present at all in other jurisdictions. These include the doctrine of consideration, the specific structure of tortious liability and the entire law of trusts.

An awareness of such differences is vital for students if they wish to be prepared for the challenges of legal practice in a globalised world, where many of them will be faced with cross-border dealings on a daily basis. It also enables them, at a time when they are approaching the end of their degree, to build on the knowledge of English private law that they have been able to acquire in their first and second year. Studying comparative private law allows them to draw together various threads of the wider discourse on the foundations of private law and to reflect critically on the English law by comparison with other legal systems. 

The course focuses on a number of selected topics, drawn from the areas of contract (the conception of contract; performance, non-performance and remedies), tort (the structure of extra-contractual liability; product liability), property law (ownership, title and possession) and trusts (trust and fiduciary devices). English law is mostly compared to the private laws of France and Germany, the two most influential jurisdictions within the Western legal tradition other than England and the US.

Teaching is provided throughout Michaelmas and Hilary. For each of the selected topics there is an introductory two-hour lecture and a two-hour class contrasting English law with the solutions found in other jurisdictions. In 2016-2017 there will also be a special series of lectures on relevant aspects of the new French contract law (which comes into force on 1 October 2016). Lectures and classes are followed by tutorials. Instead of producing four or more standard length tutorial essays students write two extended essays of 4,000-5,000 words on a topic of their choice (one in Michaelmas and one in Hilary). They receive four (one-to-one) tutorials overall: for each of the two essays there is a tutorial discussing the proposed plan of research and another one discussing the result.

The teaching also includes a general lecture series provided in Michaelmas. This gives a general overview of the discipline of comparative law and provides a theoretical and methodological framework for the actual comparison to be made in the classes and tutorials.

Students work with a wide range of materials including primary sources, such as cases and statutes, and legal writings drawn from articles and textbooks. All materials are made available in English, so no knowledge of foreign languages is required.

Learning outcomes: an understanding of how certain fundamental aspects of private law are dealt with in jurisdictions beyond England and Wales and a capacity to reflect on the differences and similarities between practices in those jurisdictions and those of English common law.

 

Optional for these programmes: BA in Jurisprudence, BA in Jurisprudence with Senior Status, BA in Law with Law Studies in Europe

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Constitutional Law (Senior Status)

This course covers the law of the constitution, including the structure and basic principles of the British constitution, and the impact of European Union law on the constitution. It also provides an introduction to the protection of human rights in English law.

Constitutional Law covers material in the “foundations of legal knowledge” and so must be taken by those seeking a profession qualification in England and Wales.

Students taking the BA in Jurisprudence (Course 1 and Course 2) take Constitutional Law as one of the three papers for Law Moderations and will in general cover eight topics in tutorials. Students taking the BA in Jurisprudence with Senior Status may choose to take Constitutional Law as an option in the Final Honour School and these students will in general cover seven topics in tutorials.

The precise pattern of tutorial teaching varies from college to college. Lectures are given in Michaelmas and Hilary Terms on most aspects of the course.

Optional for these programmes: BA in Jurisprudence with Senior Status, Diploma in Legal Studies

Senior status only.

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Contract

The syllabus comprises the general principles of the law governing enforceable agreements. It is not concerned with special rules governing specific types of contracts, such as sale, carriage or employment, except where these are significant for the general principles. The principal topics normally discussed are: (a) the rules relating to the formation of agreements and to certain further requirements which must be satisfied to make agreements legally enforceable; (b) the contents of a contract and the rules governing the validity of terms which exclude or restrict liability and unfair terms in consumer contracts; (c) the nature and effects in a contractual context of mistake, misrepresentation, duress and undue influence; (d) the general principle that right and duties arising under a contract can only be enforced by and against the parties to it and its main exceptions; (e) performance and breach, including the right to terminate for failure in performance and the effects of wrongful repudiation; (f) supervening events as a ground of discharge under the doctrine of frustration; (g) remedies for breach of contract by way of damages, action for the agreed sum, specific performance and injunction. (h) the basis of contractual liability.

Contract is one of the compulsory standard subjects within the Final Honour School syllabus. It also covers material in the “foundations of legal knowledge” and so must be taken by those seeking a professional qualification in England and Wales.

The subject is taught in tutorials arranged by your college tutor. Particular areas are also explored in lectures.

Syllabus:

Candidates will be required to show a knowledge of such parts of the law of restitution as are directly relevant to the law of contract. Questions may be set in this paper requiring knowledge of the law of tort.

Teaching Conventions:

The teaching is based on the assumption that questions will not be asked on contracts that are illegal or contrary to public policy or on gaming and wagering contracts; and that detailed knowledge will not be expected of formal requirements, agency, assignment or contractual capacity.

Compulsory for these programmes: BA in Jurisprudence, BA in Law with Law Studies in Europe, BA in Jurisprudence with Senior Status

Optional for these programmes: Diploma in Legal Studies, Magister Juris (MJur)

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Copyright, Patents and Allied Rights

It is commonplace to say that we live in an age in which expressive, informational and technological subject matter are becoming increasingly important. Intellectual property is the primary means by which the law seeks to regulate such subject matter. It aims to promote innovation and creativity, and in doing so to support solutions to global environmental and health problems, as well as freedom of expression and democracy. It also seeks to stimulate economic growth and competition, accounting for its centrality to EU Internal Market and international trade and development policies. And it is of enormous and increasing importance to business. According to the Hargreaves Report of 2011, for example, “[e]very year in the last decade, investment by UK business in intangible assets has outstripped investment in tangible assets: by £137 billion to £104 billion in 2008. Global trade in IP licences alone is worth more than £600 billion a year: five per cent of world trade and rising.”

In Copyright, Patents and Allied Rights we introduce two of the central intellectual property regimes. Copyright protects authorial works and recordings/transmissions of them (such as music and films), and patents protect inventions of industrial and commercial value (such as biotech, medical and computer products and processes). We ask why we have these regimes and how they operate at a national and European level. The course should have broad appeal, including for those interested in the arts and entertainment industries, technology, research and development, unfair competition, medical law and ethics, European harmonisation, and science and technology. It will be taught in 8 seminars and 6 tutorials spread over Michaelmas and Hilary Terms by Lord L Hoffmann ,Dr D Gangjee and and Mr Luis Porangaba. 

NOTE: MJur and DLS students are welcome to take this course. The course may not be taken in conjunction with Copyright, Trade Marks and Allied Rights.

Learning outcomes: an understanding of intellectual property law with specific reference to copyright and patents, and of various applications of this area of law.

 

Optional for these programmes: BA in Jurisprudence, BA in Jurisprudence with Senior Status, BA in Law with Law Studies in Europe, Diploma in Legal Studies, Magister Juris (MJur)

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Copyright, Trade Marks and Allied Rights

It is commonplace to say that we live in an age in which expressive, informational and technological subject matter are becoming increasingly important. Intellectual property is the primary means by which the law seeks to regulate such subject matter. It aims to promote innovation and creativity, and in doing so to support solutions to global environmental and health problems, as well as freedom of expression and democracy. It also seeks to stimulate economic growth and competition, accounting for its centrality to EU Internal Market and international trade and development policies. And it is of enormous and increasing importance to business. According to the Hargreaves Report of 2011, for example, “[e]very year in the last decade, investment by UK business in intangible assets has outstripped investment in tangible assets: by £137 billion to £104 billion in 2008. Global trade in IP licences alone is worth more than £600 billion a year: five per cent of world trade and rising.”

In Copyright, Trade Marks and Allied Rights we introduce two of the central intellectual property regimes. Copyright protects authorial works and recordings/transmissions of them (such as music and films), and trade marks protect signs that indicate the commercial origin of goods and services (such as the Nike name and swoosh logo). We ask whey we have these regimes and how they operate at a national and European level. The course should have broad appeal, including for those interested in the arts and entertainment industries, brand management, the consumer society, unfair competition, and European harmonisation. It will be taught in 8 seminars and 6 tutorials spread over Michaelmas and Hilary Terms by Professor G Dinwoodie and Dr D Gangjee. 

NOTE: MJur and DLS students are welcome to take this course. The course may not be taken in conjunction with Copyright, Patents and Allied Rights.

Learning outcomes: an understanding of intellectual property law with specific reference to copyright and trade marks, and of various applications of this area of law.

Optional for these programmes: BA in Jurisprudence, BA in Jurisprudence with Senior Status, BA in Law with Law Studies in Europe, Diploma in Legal Studies, Magister Juris (MJur)

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Criminal Law (Mods)

The course deals with the following: (i) General principles of criminal liability: actus reus and mens rea, omissions, causation, negligence, strict liability, complicity and inchoate offences. (ii) General defences. (iii) The law relating to offences against the person (including sexual offences) and offences against property and other economic interests.

The subject requires attention to cases and statutes, and is an important bridge to subjects studied for the Final Honour School, in particular the opportunity it provides to study problem questions. It is hoped that students will find it interesting for its intellectual challenge, as well as for the colourful material.

The subject comprises the following topics:

1. General principles of criminal liability: actus reus (including liability for omissions); mens rea (including different kinds of fault, such as intention, negligence, strict liability); causation.

2. General defences to criminal liability.

3. Liability as a party to a crime, including participation as a principal and secondary participation (including ‘joint enterprise’). Questions will not be set on sections 4 or 5 of the Criminal Law Act 1967 (assisting offenders after the fact and compounding offences).

4. Liability for the inchoate offences of statutory conspiracy, attempt and the offences created by sections 44, 45 and 46 of the Serious Crime Act 2007.

5. Liability for the following kinds of homicide: murder; manslaughter (excluding corporate manslaughter). No question will be set requiring knowledge of infanticide or of encouraging or assisting suicide.

6. Liability for the offences created by sections 1, 2 and 3 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. Candidates will be expected to know of the existence of the other offences created by that Act.

7. Liability for the following offences: common assault and common battery; the offences created by the following sections of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861: 16, 18, 20, 23, 24, 47.

8. Liability for the following offences: the offences created by the Criminal Damage Act 1971 sections 1-3; the offences created by the Theft Act 1968, sections 1, 8 and 9; and the offences created by the Fraud Act 2006, sections 1-4. Candidates will be expected to know of the existence of the offences created by sections 12, 21, 22 and 25 of the Theft Act 1968 and section 3 of the Theft Act 1978.

NB Second BA students taking Criminal law study a slightly different syllabus and should refer to the FHS Handbook for details of what that syllabus covers.

Coverage

Examiners may set questions on all the topics listed above. In every case, candidates are expected to have knowledge of the statutory provisions and case law relevant to the interpretation of the examinable offences

Learning outcomes

A general understanding of the principles and theory of criminal law and a specific knowledge of criminal liability for the offences listed above. An ability to demonstrate this knowledge in both essays and problem questions.

Compulsory for these programmes: BA in Jurisprudence, BA in Law with Law Studies in Europe, BA in Jurisprudence with Senior Status

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Criminal Law (Senior Status)

The course is not available for those who have taken the subject in Law Moderations and is intended for those who have transferred to Law after Mods, and for senior status students. The syllabus is the same as for the Law Moderations course, but only covers topics 1 - 7 (it does not include topic 8). The paper in the Final Honour School is examined separately, and is intended to be more challenging.

Criminal Law covers material in the “foundations of legal knowledge” and so must be taken (if not taken in Law Moderations) by those seeking a professional qualification in England and Wales. The subject is taught in tutorials arranged by your college tutor.

Teaching Conventions:

The following matters are examinable. In every case, candidates are expected to have knowledge of other statutory provisions which are relevant to the interpretation of examinable offences. 1. General principles of criminal liability: actus reus (including liability for omissions); mens rea (including different kinds of fault, such as intention, negligence, strict liability); causation. 2. General defences to criminal liability. 3. Liability as a party to a crime, including participation as a principal and secondary participation (including "joint enterprise"). Questions will not be set on sections 4 or 5 of the Criminal Law Act 1967 (assisting offenders after the fact and compounding offences). 4. Liability for the inchoate offences of statutory conspiracy, attempt and the offences created by sections 44, 45 and 46 of the Serious Crime Act 2007. 5. Liability for the following kinds of homicide: murder; manslaughter (excluding corporate manslaughter); the offence created by the Suicide Act 1961, s.2(1). 6. Liability for the offences created by sections 1, 2 and 3 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. Candidates will be expected to know of the existence of the other offences created by that Act. 7. Liability for the following offences: common assault and common battery; the offences created by the following sections of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861: 16, 18, 20, 23, 24, 47. 8. Liability for the following offences: the offences created by the Criminal Damage Act 1971 sections 1-3; the offences created by the Theft Act 1968, sections 1, 8 and 9; and the offences created by the Fraud Act 2006, sections 1-4. Candidates will be expected to know of the existence of the offences created by sections 12, 21, 22 and 25 of the Theft Act 1968 and section 3 of the Theft Act 1978.

Learning outcomes: an understanding of the criminal law of England and Wales including criminal liability, general defences, offences against property and economic interests.

Optional for these programmes: BA in Jurisprudence with Senior Status, Diploma in Legal Studies

Senior status only.

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Criminology and Criminal Justice

Why are criminal laws made? Why are they broken? How do we, and how should we, react to the breaking of criminal laws? These three questions are the stuff of criminology. They also occupy a central and controversial place in public and political debates about the condition and future of contemporary liberal democratic societies. This course provides students with the chance to study them in depth.
Criminology and Criminal Justice offers students an opportunity to study crime and the ways in which it is dealt with by the criminal justice and penal systems. It enables students to explore the nature of crime and its control by examining the issues at stake using the resources of legal, penal and social theory. It also offers students the chance to think about crime as a social phenomenon and to explore using criminological research and analysis how criminal justice and penal systems operate in practice.
The course is structured as follows: 18 lectures; four classes and four tutorials.
Reading lists and handouts are available via the link in the left menu bar or here.
Lectures, classes and tutorials are provided by several academics from the Law Faculty who are also members of the Centre for Criminology.
More information about the Centre for Criminology, including the All Souls Criminology Seminar Series, can be found on the Centre's website.
 

Optional for these programmes: BA in Jurisprudence, BA in Jurisprudence with Senior Status, Diploma in Legal Studies, Magister Juris (MJur)

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Environmental Law

This course is an introduction to the subject of environmental law and covers the main areas of substantive UK (with the focus on England) and – as far as applicable - EU environmental law. Environmental law is concerned with the law relating to the protection of the environment and includes areas such as planning law, pollution control law, nature conservation, environmental impact assessment as well as waste law which have been significantly shaped in the past also by EU law, such as the provisions on the free movement of goods. Environmental law therefore builds on the core subjects of Administrative Law and EU law. It also applies legal concepts from other areas such as criminal law and tort law.

The course will take into consideration the socio-political context in which environmental law operates and it will explore the innovative, complex and ever expanding case law and legislation on the subject.

A major theme of the course is an exploration of the type of challenges that environmental problems provide for law and legal reasoning. In the last decade environmental law has given rise to difficult legal questions including:

  • what should be the rights of citizens to legally challenge ‘public’ environmental decision-making?

  • what should be the limits of discretion placed on administrative decision-makers in their pursuit of environmental protection?

  • how should environmental protection be balanced with other social and economic goals?

  • what are the best means of achieving environmental protection?

Learning Outcomes: knowledge of the substantive  legal aspects of environmental law in the UK; understanding of the complexity of environmental problems and how that complexity affects the application of the law; knowledge of how environmental law relates to core legal areas, particularly administrative law and EU law where relevant.

In the light of Brexit the course will provide a really interesting opportunity to think about the direction that environmental law in the UK may and can take in the future. Will a distinct ‘UK approach’ towards environmental law (re-)emerge, despite the fact that environmental law in the UK in the past has been significantly shaped by both general and specific EU environmental and energy law?

Optional for these programmes: BA in Jurisprudence, BA in Jurisprudence with Senior Status, Diploma in Legal Studies, Magister Juris (MJur)

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European Union Law

The law of the European Union is based largely on the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union, and legislation made under the Treaties by the Council, the Parliament, and the Commission. The case law of the European Courts is of considerable importance and looms large in the study of EU law. EU law takes immediate effect in English Law, and is enforceable by English courts. EU law raises issues of intrinsic theoretical interest, and considerable practical importance. No linguistic expertise is necessary, since EU legislation and case law are published in all official EU languages, including English.

 The Oxford course deals with: (i) the institutions of the EU, including the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice and General Court; (ii) the essential features of the EU law, and its incorporation into national law; (iii) the principle of free movement of persons and services within the EU; and (iv) the rules governing the free movement of goods within the EU. Study of the institutions entails consideration of the majority voting rules used by the Council in making EU legislation, and examination of the roles of the Commission and European Parliament in decision-making. Emphasis is placed on the scope of the law-making competence of the institutions, in particular as regards the internal market, and on the principle of subsidiarity, which is intended to act as a brake on the exercise of such competence. Most of the course, however, is concerned with the nature and operation of rules of EU law rather than with institutional matters.

 The ‘general part’ of the course covers such matters as the aims and policies of the European Union, the sources and supremacy of EU law, its direct effect before national courts and its impact on domestic legal rules, procedures and remedies, including the principle of State Liability for breach of EU Law. The court of final recourse in matters of EU law is the Court of Justice of the European Union. It has jurisdiction, e.g., to give preliminary rulings on references from national courts (references are an increasingly common occurrence in the U.K.), and to review the legality of EU legislation. Such matters receive detailed treatment in the course.

 The free movement of persons aspect of the course presents a combination of social and commercial law. The rights of EU employed and self-employed persons to free movement and non-discrimination graphically illustrate the significance of the EU legal system for such persons, while at the same time being of considerable significance to commercial undertakings and their advisors. General principles applicable to mutual recognition of qualifications are covered, as are the Directives on establishment and service provision by lawyers. All nationals of Member States are also “EU Citizens” and this status is of increasing importance as regards rights of free movement, residence and equality. The syllabus also includes study of EU rules on the free movement of goods. These have been given wide-ranging effect by the European Court and have given rise to considerable litigation in English courts, which have made many references to the European Court.

 The subject is taught in tutorials arranged by your college tutor.

Compulsory for these programmes: BA in Jurisprudence, BA in Law with Law Studies in Europe, BA in Jurisprudence with Senior Status

Optional for these programmes: Diploma in Legal Studies, Magister Juris (MJur)

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Family Law

This course focuses on the legal regulation of individuals’ intimate personal and family lives. The fact that the definition of ‘family’ itself is both highly contested and much assumed offers some insight into the hotly contested nature of much of Family Law.

Studying Family Law often involves taking a legal concept or underpinning idea with which most have some familiarity from daily life, such as marriage, divorce, parenthood, or children’s rights, and then exploring exactly how the law regulates that subject and why. Key issues are examined within their historical, social, economic, and theoretical context. For example, what is the purpose of the consanguinity restrictions on marriage and should those have been extended to civil partnership? What does it mean to say a child is a rights-holder? If we cannot offer a coherent account, is there no such thing as ‘children’s rights’? Why do so many people believe the ‘common law marriage myth’? Should the courts and Parliament care that these people think that legal benefits and obligations exist when they do not? The syllabus lists the precise topics covered.

Our focus is on the substantive law, though an awareness of the family justice system in practice adds an important additional perspective to key debates. We currently examine through essay questions only so as to enable students the opportunity to devote sufficient attention to the interplay between law and the larger social and policy issues that are critical to an in-depth understanding of the Family Law field.

Family law is inter-disciplinary in terms of the range of materials students are expected to read and the nature of the arguments and debates with which students are expected to engage. This includes working with social science research, government publications, and non-government public and social policy materials. Family law involves an examination of statutory law, which is more extensive than in many other subjects.

Property law and trusts law are relevant to discussing the legal position of relationships outside of marriage and civil partnership. Students may find the background from having studied these as part of their core Land Law and Trusts courses useful, though the Family Law perspective is distinctive. Underlying conceptual ideas and a little substantive detail covered in Contract Law are also relevant to private ordering and adult intimate relationships more generally. Discussion of contentious issues in parenthood and disputes over who should raise and see children when interested adults do not live together (residence and contact disputes) includes children born as a result of fertility treatment, which is discussed from a different perspective as part of the Medical Law and Ethics course. The child’s capacity to make medical treatment decisions also features as part of both courses; in Family Law, it is one aspect of a larger discussion of children’s rights and children’s involvement in decision-making affecting them in a number of contexts. Examination of the legal approach to child protection includes limited discussion of public authority liability in negligence, as explored in Tort Law.

Optional for these programmes: BA in Jurisprudence, BA in Jurisprudence with Senior Status, Diploma in Legal Studies, Magister Juris (MJur)

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Human Rights Law

The objective of the course is to provide a thorough grounding in the law of human rights which applies in the United Kingdom. The primary aim is to introduce students to the substance of these applicable rights and to their interpretation and enforcement. This will include an analysis of general principles as well as broad themes arising from the interpretation and limits of several specific rights (such as fair trial, protection of private life, and non-discrimination). The course will also follow developments in the reform of human rights law in the United Kingdom, and its content will reflect changes in a fast moving field of law.   The course will incorporate domestic UK law, as well as the relevant law of the European Convention on Human Rights and other international human rights norms which apply directly to UK human rights law.

Teaching will take place over Michaelmas and Hilary Terms, and will consist of a combination of lectures, seminars, classes and tutorials.

Learning outcomes: by the end of the course, students will: have a sound understanding of the significance of human rights and civil liberties, and their theoretical dimensions; be familiar with and able to apply the relevant provisions to practical problems concerning a range of the rights and liberties; have a knowledge and understanding of the human rights system as a whole; and have an understanding of the institutional procedural requirements for bringing human rights claims.

Optional for these programmes: BA in Jurisprudence, BA in Jurisprudence with Senior Status, BA in Law with Law Studies in Europe, Magister Juris (MJur)

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International Trade

This course takes as its subject matter a sale of goods by a seller in one country to a buyer in another, and examines the contractual relations between various parties that may be involved in the making and performance of such a sale. Accordingly, it is concerned first with the relations between buyer and seller, emphasising the special features of the sale which are due to its international character. Secondly, it is concerned with the carriage of goods from the seller to the buyer, once again emphasising the special rules which govern international carriage. So as to keep the course within reasonable bounds, it deals only with carriage by sea; it does not cover the special rules governing international carriage by air, road and rail. Thirdly, the course deals with an aspect of banking law. Payment in international sales is often made, not directly by buyer to seller, but through the mechanism of a banker’s commercial credit; the law relating to such credits forms the third part of the course.

Looked at from another angle, the course is concerned with the special problems that arise in overseas sales because the parties are often comparative strangers to one another, and because there is often a long interval of time between the despatch of goods and their receipt. During that time, the parties are exposed to certain financial and physical risks. The financial risk to which each party is exposed is that of the other’s insolvency: to protect himself against this risk the seller will want to be paid as early as possible while the buyer will want to pay as late as possible. One major topic for discussion is the way in which the law and commercial practice seek to reconcile these conflicting desires. So far as the physical risks are concerned, there is the possibility that the goods may be lost or damaged or delayed in transit. Sometimes that risk has to be borne by one of the parties to the contract of sale; sometimes it has to be borne (at least in part) by the carrier; and exactly how it is to be borne has obvious repercussions on the decisions to be made by each party with regard to insurance.

Although its name might suggest something different, the course is about a branch of English domestic law. Our concern is with the English rules governing international transactions (though these rules are often applied to contracts which have no physical connection with this country). It follows that the materials and methods of this course are almost entirely those of the traditional law course, i.e. that it consists largely of a study of decided cases and legislation, though the latter is to a considerable extent influenced by international conventions. Internationally accepted customs and practices figure prominently in the banking section of the course; but the course contains nothing that anyone with the standard equipment of a common lawyer cannot handle.

The course has three principal attractions. Firstly, it raises not only complex and fascinating analytical issues but also fundamental issues of legal policy. Secondly, a study of International Trade will help candidates very considerably with their understanding of the law of contract, particularly in the areas of privity, breach, frustration and remedies. Thirdly, the course forms a useful background to one of the most intellectually satisfying types of legal practice.

Lecturing and other guidance is important in this subject because there are no suitable student books for students to study it for themselves at the right level. The books available are either too simple, or are large practitioners’ works in the use of which students need guidance.

Lectures in Michaelmas Term usually cover carriage by sea and on letters of credit. There are handouts for each set of lectures. In the Hilary Term (second of the year) there is normally a weekly class where the three contracts are treated together and their interaction studied. For this there are separate lists of cases and questions. Tutorials (which include practice in analysing problems) are also available in that term, and that is the term in which the bulk of the student’s own personal work on the subject (other than attending lectures) should be done.

Optional for these programmes: BA in Jurisprudence, BA in Jurisprudence with Senior Status, BA in Law with Law Studies in Europe

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Jurisprudence

Jurisprudence is one of the compulsory standard subjects within the Final Honour School syllabus. It is, however, taught and examined in a distinctive way (see below).

Jurisprudence, in the sense relevant to this subject, is the philosophy of law. In studying it you will learn to reflect in a disciplined and critical way on the nature, role, and importance, of legal systems, legal reasoning, and legal institutions, often using examples from other parts of your law studies. By choosing a suitable ‘mini-option’ (see below) you could also examine the philosophy of a particular area of law such as criminal law or tort law.

Teaching: In the second year of the Final Honour School your Jurisprudence teaching will be as follows:

(i) Core topics:   You will have six tutorials covering some core topics in philosophy of law, in the traditional way.

(ii) Mini option: You will then choose a mini-option from a list that the teaching group will provide. The mini-options will be taught in classes and you will not necessarily be taught by the same person who was your tutor for the core topics.

Authoritative guidance on the range of topics in the core will be issued in Michaelmas Term, together with an indicative list of mini-options. You will choose your mini-option from a finalized list in HT or TT of your second year, when you are studying Jurisprudence (all Jurisprudence tutorials take place in HT and/or TT of the second year).

Examination:

Core topics: your Jurisprudence unseen written examination (at the end of your final year) will take a new form. Instead of our traditional finals paper taking three hours and requiring you to answer three out of sixteen questions, your finals paper will take two hours and will require you to answer two out of ten questions. This examination paper will cover only core topics on the tutorial syllabus.

 Mini option: your mini-option will be examined by an essay that you must write in your own time during the summer vacation at the end of your second year (this applies to Law with Law Studies in Europe students too). You will be provided near the end of TT with a list of questions arising from your mini-option and you will choose one to answer. The essay writing will be unsupervised. However guidance on what is expected will be given, including one or more classes on how to write an essay for assessment.

 Arrangements for lectures and other teaching will be explained in full during the course.

Compulsory for these programmes: BA in Jurisprudence, BA in Law with Law Studies in Europe, BA in Jurisprudence with Senior Status

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Labour Law

Issues in labour law affect most people during their working lives. What rights does a worker have if he or she is dismissed? Is there a right to strike? What can the law do about discrimination? This is a rapidly changing field, particularly in the past decade, which has witnessed a transformation in labour law. Most major industrial disputes are now fought out in the courts rather than on the shop-floor, in stark contrast with the traditional view that strikes are best resolved by the parties themselves. Of growing importance is the impact of EU law on British labour law, particularly in the field of discrimination. Labour law will be of considerable interest to anyone who is concerned with the interaction between law, politics and society. All British governments in recent decades have regarded policies on labour law as central to their political programmes.

Labour Law is also useful in practice. Many young barristers acquire invaluable experience by appearing before employment tribunals; and most solicitors’ firms, whether in the City or elsewhere, require specialists in employment law. It remains truer than ever that “the law governing labour relations is one of the centrally important branches of the law - the legal basis on which the very large majority of people earn their living. No-one should be qualified as a lawyer - professionally or academically - who has not mastered its principles.” (Kahn-Freund).

The course covers the law concerning individual employment law (including discrimination law), as well as trade unions, industrial action and collective bargaining. The student is not expected to acquire a detailed knowledge of the whole of this relatively large and complex field, but to pick out the central themes, and integrate them into a wider social and theoretical context.

The main relevant statutes are supplied to examination candidates. It has normally been the case that candidates are not expected to have detailed knowledge of any legislation which has not received the Royal Assent by the beginning of the calendar year in which the examination takes place. Candidates will be required to answer four questions from a choice of twelve.

The subject is taught by means of a programme of lectures/seminars in Michaelmas and Hilary Terms, and by college tutorials which are co-ordinated with them.

Optional for these programmes: BA in Jurisprudence, BA in Jurisprudence with Senior Status, BA in Law with Law Studies in Europe, Diploma in Legal Studies

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Land Law

The focus of attention within the course is on interests in land: interests which do not merely operate not merely between the parties to a particular transaction involving the land, but can also affect third parties - other people coming into contact with it, such as later purchasers. Examples of such interests are the fee simple (virtually equivalent to ownership of the land), leases, easements and mortgages. The course concerns itself with questions such as: What interests count as interests in land? How are they created? Exactly when will they affect third parties?

Land Law has a well established set of principles, often regulated by statute, to govern it. In part this is because people dealing with land need to know with certainty what the result of a particular transaction will be. Even so, there are many areas of the subject which are currently being developed by case law.

The course is not about conveyancing, the buying and selling of land. It is true, however, that in Land Law we are conscious of the needs of purchasers. Thus, for example, the circumstances in which purchasers will be bound by interests are inextricably tied in with the way land is bought and sold.

Land Law covers material in the “foundations of legal knowledge” and so must be taken by those seeking a professional qualification in England and Wales. Candidates in the FHS examination must offer both Land Law and Trusts.

The subject is taught in tutorials by your college tutor. For an introduction to the subject see Simon Gardner with Emily MacKenzie, An Introduction to Land Law (Hart Publishing, 3rd edn, 2012).

 

Compulsory for these programmes: BA in Jurisprudence, BA in Law with Law Studies in Europe, BA in Jurisprudence with Senior Status

Optional for these programmes: Diploma in Legal Studies, Magister Juris (MJur)

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Media Law

Media Law is a fast developing and increasingly high profile area of law. It is an area that allows scholars to look at advanced issues relating to freedom of expression and the right to communicate, and the way these rights intersect with competing interests. The course covers a number of key themes in Media Law and will begin by looking at the justifications for and meanings of media freedom. This introduction will provide a theoretical background against which the later topics will be evaluated. The topics in the course can be grouped into three broad categories:

(1) Liability for media content – for example, when can the press publish facts about a person’s private life? Do public figures have weaker rights to reputation? Will media coverage prejudice a jury trial?

(2) Legal assistance and control of newsgathering – can the police seize journalists’ notebooks? When do journalists have a right not to disclose the identity of confidential sources?

(3) Media regulation – what system of regulation should govern the press? Why do we have different regulatory systems for television and newspapers (and where should the internet fit in this scheme of things)? How much media should any person or company be allowed to control?

In different weeks, the course will build on areas already studied in Tort Law, Criminal Law and Constitutional and Administrative Law. The course will analyse these various issues in the light of the political and social functions (and responsibilities) of the media. In doing this, aspects of media theory and policy may be drawn on in the readings and discussion. At the end of this course students will have a good understanding of the key debates and principles underlying the legal controls on media and communications.

Optional for these programmes: BA in Jurisprudence, BA in Jurisprudence with Senior Status, BA in Law with Law Studies in Europe, Diploma in Legal Studies

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Medical Law and Ethics (FHS)

This course covers selected legal, ethical and medical issues arising in medical practice and research. It focuses on issues of consent, autonomy and best interests of the patient and other interested parties, and how these create intersections with other areas of law, such as tort, criminal and personal property law.

Four core areas of medical law are covered: intentional torts and clinical negligence; reproductive medicine and rights; organ donation and transplantation; and end of life issues. Lectures cover both the legal and ethical issues arising in those areas of medicine, and assume knowledge of the relevant law already covered in the Law Moderations Criminal Law course, and the FHS Tort Law course. Students will be encouraged to take a critical approach and consider where the law may require reform, drawing on the legal and ethical literature to support their views. The course also includes lectures on reasoning in ethics, which will cover various methodologies in ethics for determining about how to act, to give students a grounding in how conclusions about ethical issues are reached (and critiqued), and on a range of issues in medical ethics not covered elsewhere in the course.

The subject is through five tutorials and a series of 20 lectures. The lectures are intended to be interactive and students should be expect to be called upon to participate in discussion and debate. Lectures will cover the syllabus, and a number of guest lecturers will also speak on topics of interest in medical ethics. These guests will include barristers, medical practitioners, religious leaders and members of the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics.

The course is assessed entirely by means of extended writing assessment, undertaken at the end of Hilary Term.  

Learning outcomes: a critical understanding of the principal areas of medical law and of the social and ethical considerations relating to his field of law.

Optional for these programmes: BA in Jurisprudence, BA in Jurisprudence with Senior Status, BA in Law with Law Studies in Europe, Diploma in Legal Studies

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Moral and Political Philosophy

The aim of this course is to provide an introduction to the fundamental questions of moral philosophy and some central issues in political philosophy. The course is divided into two parts: Part A covering the nature of moral philosophy, and Part B dealing with the topics in political philosophy.

Part A takes a philosophical perspective on fundamental questions about the nature of morality. It asks whether moral values are (or can be) ‘objective’, or whether they are simply ‘subjective’ or ‘relative’, and what reason(s) we have (if any) to be moral. Part A also examines three of the most prominent approaches to the nature of morality—-consequentialism, deontology and virtue ethics. Finally, it raises questions about our relationship to morality: Do we really have the freedom to choose whether or not to act in the morally right way? Does morality always provide us with a permissible course of action?

Part B examines some central topics in political philosophy, namely, democracy, liberty, equality and justice.

Optional for these programmes: BA in Jurisprudence, BA in Jurisprudence with Senior Status, BA in Law with Law Studies in Europe

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Personal Property

The objective of this course is to provide students with an overview of the law of personal property, focusing in particular on underlying concepts and subjecting those concepts to a detailed, critical examination. The course aims to broaden students’ knowledge by introducing them to fundamental ideas which the FHS compulsory subjects do not cover: such as the role of the tort of conversion in protecting interests in property; and the means by which gifts of interests in property can be made. The course further aims to deepen students’ understanding of important concepts which feature in the core subjects of Land Law and Trusts: students will be re-introduced to and, more importantly, invited to re-examine concepts such as the nature of ownership and the need for security of transactions.

This special subject may not be taken by any student who is also taking the standard subject Principles of Commercial Law.

i) Introductory Seminar/Lecture: 1 x 2hr session
ii) Seminars: 7 x 2hr sessions
iii) Tutorials: 4 x 1hr sessions

These sessions will be spread over Michaelmas Term and Hilary Term.

Optional for these programmes: BA in Jurisprudence, BA in Jurisprudence with Senior Status, Magister Juris (MJur)

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Public International Law

There has never been a more exciting time to study Public International Law (PIL). Issues of PIL and international justice are at the forefront of public debates to a greater degree than ever before. International law provides the technical and intellectual underpinnings to large areas of international co-operation, including the prosecution of war crimes (both internationally and nationally), the legality of the use of force against States (e.g. Syria and Iraq), environmental protection, the scope of human rights protection, the economic effects of globalisation promoted through the work of institutions such as the World Trade Organization, the settlement of land and maritime boundary disputes, and the resolution of jurisdictional conflicts arising in the context of economic regulation by States.

PIL today not only impacts and shapes decisions by States to a greater degree than ever before, but it also penetrates into the national legal order – often through national court decisions – to give rights to individuals and corporations to an extent that is unrivalled in the history of the subject. These developments have in turn led to the growth of lawyers and law firms who specialise in the practice of PIL. This is in addition to the demand for PIL lawyers in governments, inter-governmental organizations (such as the United Nations and the large number of UN Specialized Agencies), and non-governmental organizations. For those who do not intend to follow a career in international law, the subject provides a broad sweep of issues which illuminate not merely questions of international law but the problems and processes of the world of diplomacy.

The PIL course at Oxford covers the major areas of general international law and is not over-specialized. The lectures cover the core tutorial topics on the nature and sources of international law, the law of treaties, international legal personality, jurisdiction and immunities, State responsibility, the use of force and the procedures for peaceful settlement of disputes. In addition, the lectures introduce students to selected special subject areas such the law of the sea, international humanitarian law and investment arbitration. The consideration of these subject areas takes place within their broader policy context and having regard to recent experience.

Although in principle the syllabus is extensive, both the teaching practice and the mode of setting the FHS paper avoid any drawbacks which might result from this wide scope. Students will find that it is not necessary to know the whole syllabus from A to Z, and  the Schools paper provides a wide selection of questions.

Learning outcomes: an understanding of a variety of areas of Public International Law selected from a list which covers laws relating to international relations, international economic issues and human rights, amongst others.

Optional for these programmes: BA in Jurisprudence, BA in Jurisprudence with Senior Status, Diploma in Legal Studies, Magister Juris (MJur)

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Roman Law (Delict - FHS)

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 Moderations Roman law course. 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 discussion of fundamentals of the law of delicts/torts, aided by comparisons 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 provided in relation to the texts. Knowledge of Latin is not required or necessary; sensitivity for philological dimensions of the original texts, where relevant, is. Much literature will quote Latin phrases but in practice this should not cause problems; for sources on the reading list, translations are provided either in the sources or separately.

By its nature, this course attracts and is suitable for only small numbers. This fact tends to dissolve the distinction between tutorials and lectures. However, it remains true that the backbone of the course is an exposition of the set texts, supported by further lectures on associated topics.

Learning outcomes: an understanding of the concepts of Roman law and of the ideas and methods of classical jurists, and a capacity to reflect on their influence on English common law.

Optional for these programmes: BA in Jurisprudence, BA in Jurisprudence with Senior Status, BA in Law with Law Studies in Europe, Diploma in Legal Studies

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Taxation Law

Taxation pervades every area of life, including property, family, employment and business affairs. Tax law is well suited to interdisciplinary study, intersecting as it does with economics and politics. It also offers rich opportunities for the study of many areas of law, given that tax factors have frequently influenced development of legal concepts and principles. In turn, tax laws are shaped by concepts of property, commercial, corporate and employment law and approaches to drafting and interpretation of legislation. This course introduces students to selected issues in the law of taxation, chosen to illuminate fundamental concepts and to link to other parts of the undergraduate law course. The focus is on tax law, but the technical issues are examined by focusing on themes and principles and placing the law within its political and economic context, in order to create an understanding of the requirements of a tax system and the difficulties encountered in designing, legislating for and administering such a system.

Students taking this course are required to use a variety of sources, ranging from statute and case law to easily accessible literature from other disciplines, such as economics and political theory, of which no prior knowledge is required. All the material is non-mathematical and no computation is required in any part of the course. The approach taken and topics chosen ensure that the course is of interest to a wide range of students.

Those entering the legal profession will find that knowledge of taxation is of value whether they intend to specialise in taxation, for which there are many opportunities, both in the City and in private client work, or as background to practice in other areas. The course will provide a valuable intellectual framework for the tax element in the professional legal training courses. Students interested in careers outside the legal profession will also find that the tax course provides a thorough grounding in a topic of central importance to business, politics and government.

The course examines the objectives and functions of a "good" tax system and how these affect what society chooses to tax. The focus of the course is on direct taxes - income tax, capital gains tax and inheritance tax in relation to individuals and businesses and the application of these taxes to private trusts. The issue of tax avoidance is of central concern in most tax systems. The course examines the way in which our tax system has lent itself to ingenious tax avoidance (or tax planning?) schemes and the attempts of the judges and the legislature to combat these activities.

The course is taught by lectures and co-ordinated classes commencing in Michaelmas and continuing to 4th week in Hilary. These lectures and classes are key elements of the teaching. The five tutorials are also spread through Michaelmas and Hilary.

Learning outcomes: an understanding of the fundamental concepts and instruments of taxation law and of the political and economic contexts within which taxation law operates.

Optional for these programmes: BA in Jurisprudence, BA in Jurisprudence with Senior Status, BA in Law with Law Studies in Europe, Diploma in Legal Studies

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Tort

Tort is one of the compulsory standard subjects within the Final Honour School syllabus. It also covers material in the “foundations of legal knowledge” and so must be taken by those seeking a professional qualification in England and Wales. The law of tort is mainly concerned with providing compensation for personal injury and damage to property, but also protects other interests, such as reputation, personal freedom, title to property, enjoyment of property, and commercial interests.

The subject is taught in tutorials arranged by your college tutor. Lectures in Michaelmas and Trinity terms cover most, but not all, of the topics on the agreed reading list. Revision lectures on contract and tort take place in Hilary term.

Compulsory for these programmes: BA in Jurisprudence, BA in Law with Law Studies in Europe, BA in Jurisprudence with Senior Status

Optional for these programmes: Diploma in Legal Studies, Magister Juris (MJur)

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Trusts

The institution of the Trust is one of the most important ideas in English law. Its very definition is heavily contested, but most would agree that a trust arises where someone (a trustee) nominally owns property, and may wield many of the powers of ownership, but is generally unable to take advantage of that ownership. Instead the trustee-owner holds the property to the benefit of some other person (known as a beneficiary), a class of persons, or an object such as a charitable purpose bringing benefit to the public. Trusts can arise in two main ways – by intention; or because the law has other reasons to make an owner into a trustee. The purpose of the intentional trust is to transfer wealth in a more complex way than would be easy or possible to achieve by straight-out conveyance, such as to have the property distributed on particular terms and conditions, or to disperse ownership to win tax advantages, or to allow ongoing management of the asset. There are myriad situations in which the law has other reasons to make an owner of property into a trustee; one very important one is where a couple’s home is nominally owned by only one partner, but the other partner deserves a share in it. The course looks at the scenarios in which the different kinds of trusts arise, and at how they behave.

In one respect, the course also looks outside trusts. A trustee is a fiduciary, being someone having a duty to act for another’s benefit through the control of property. But there are other examples of fiduciaries too, such as solicitors, who must act for their clients’ benefit; or agents who can contract on behalf of their principals. The course looks at the law’s control of fiduciaries in general, whether they are trustees or persons otherwise charged with promoting the interests of others.

Trusts is one of the compulsory standard subjects within the Final Honours School syllabus. It also covers material in the “foundations of legal knowledge” and so must be taken by those seeking a professional qualification in England and Wales.

 

Compulsory for these programmes: BA in Jurisprudence, BA in Law with Law Studies in Europe, BA in Jurisprudence with Senior Status

Optional for these programmes: Diploma in Legal Studies, Magister Juris (MJur)