Diploma in Legal Studies Options
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.
Advanced Criminal Law provides students with an opportunity to return to and learn more about the criminal law that they studied for Mods. The idea behind this course is that by examining some of the areas where criminal law touches other forms of regulation, or has to draw a fine line between unwanted and socially useful behaviour, we will understand better what it is that criminal law is and does, and thus get a better understanding of the core of the subject by considering its limits. It will therefore draw on the general knowledge of criminal law that students have from Mods, but it will go deeper into some of the general principles and philosophical or other concepts which underlie the subject.
This course will introduce students to key procedural rules and principles in civil litigation (and alternative dispute resolution) and teach them how to critically evaluate the rules and the leading cases seeking to apply them. The course is divided into 5 topics, although the time dedicated to each varies substantially:
i) The right to fair trial: the rights to which people are entitled in court, and to get to court, and exceptions and limits on those rights.
ii) Litigation procedures and the overriding objective of the Civil Procedure Rules: how the courts balance accuracy, timeliness and cost in resolving disputes.
iii) Alternative dispute resolution: principles of mediation and arbitration, and the benefits and costs of private and public, formal and informal enforcement mechanisms.
iv) Introduction to the history of English civil procedure
v) Theories of procedural justice: the nature of procedural justice and its relationship to substantive law
Part of the fascination of commercial law springs from its responsiveness to the changing needs of the business community. Through the ingenuity of those in business and their legal advisers new instruments and procedures are constantly being devised which have to be tested for their legal effect against established principles of the law of property and obligations.
The core of the course involves a rigorous examination of personal property law in the context of commercial transactions, together with contractual issues of central importance to commercial transactions. The first part of the course looks at issues related to the sale of goods, such as implied terms, transfer of property and title disputes with third parties. Basic principles of commercial transactions, such as assignment, agency and possession are then examined. The last part of the course looks at real security in personal property, including priorities (between secured interests) and the characterisation of, and justification for, real security. There are also lectures covering negotiable instruments and documents of title to goods.
A feature of the whole course is that the student learns how a desired legal result can be achieved, or a legal hazard avoided, by selection of an appropriate contract structure.
Though students will be expected to analyse statutory materials as well as case law, a distinguishing feature of the course is its concentration on fundamental concepts and their application in a commercial setting. The course thus offers an intellectual challenge and provides a good foundation for those contemplating practice in the field of commercial law.
This special subject may not be taken by any student who is also taking Personal Property.
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.
The aim of the course is to enable students to critically reflect upon the core principles and policies at the heart of competition law. In particular, to understand how the law governs business practices that may restrict competition in economic markets through private and public enforcement and to analyse how competition law can curb anticompetitive activities and facilitate free competition.
Learning outcomes: at the end of the course, students should be able to: (i) understand how the law controls: a. cartel agreements and concerted practices b. the abuse of monopoly power c. mergers and acquisitions d. enforcement of competition law through private enforcement and via the investigations of the Commission (ii) critically reflect upon the economic principles underpinning the definition and control of anti-competitive practices (iii) apply the law to solve practical problems concerning the control of anti-competitive practices (iv) critically analyse how far the law facilities the promotion of free competition. (v) develop their own critical perspective concerning how law should and could control anti-competitive practices and the role of the European Community in developing this law.
The teaching in this course is done by way of lectures, seminars and tutorial sessions. The lecture series is devoted to examination of the relevant statutory and case law framework and to the discussion of basic economic concepts (no prior knowledge of economics is required). Lectures are normally held on weeks 1-8 in MT. Each lecture lasts two hours. Two seminar sessions, each lasting two hours, will also be held in MT.
The tutorial series provides practical experience in the application of competition law through problem solving. Tutorials will be arranged centrally by the competition law group. There will be two tutorials in MT and two in HT.
For more information on the course see the Centre for Competition Law and Policy website at: www.competition-law.ox.ac.uk
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.
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.
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.
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.
Intellectual property is the field of law which protects valuable intangibles. It does so by recognizing property rights in cultural, innovative and informational subject matter. As we enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution, intellectual property rights are increasingly valuable. According to a report by the EU in 2016, 42 % of the total economic activity (GDP) in the EU is attributable to IPR-intensive industries, worth EUR 5.7 trillion.
In Copyright, Trade Marks and Allied Rights we introduce two of the central intellectual property regimes. Copyright protects authorial works (such as books, music and films) and recordings/transmissions of them. Some of the more challenging issues presently being debated are whether artificial intelligence algorithms which produce paintings or write poems ought to be recognised as authors and whether platforms such as YouTube should be responsible for the infringing uploads of their users. Trade mark law protects signs that indicate the commercial origin of goods and services (such as the Apple logo). However these marks also form the basis for valuable and evocative brands. Granting legal protection to this brand image dimension might insulate the trade mark owner against competition and prevent legitimate critiques, so where should the line be drawn?
For each of these regimes, this course outlines protected subject matter of protection, relevant legal institutions (such as registration systems), the suite of rights available and exceptions to those rights. The primary focus is UK law, as it is shaped by its European and international context.
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.
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.
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.
Employment law is the body of law that governs the relationship between working people and their employers. At any given time, around three-quarters of adults in the UK are in work, so labour law affects a huge number of people for a significant period of their lives.
The course covers the rights and responsibilities of working people and employers at all stages during the relationship, including hiring and firing, and everything that happens in between. We consider topics such as the role of equality law in the workplace in tackling discrimination, entitlement to the National Minimum Wage, and the regulation of working hours. We also look at the changing nature of modern workplaces and the impact of the ‘gig economy’ on the way in which we traditionally think about employment relationships. Around 23% of employees are trade union members, and many more have a trade union presence in their workplace, so we consider how trade unions interact with their members and how they represent people at work, and at the role played by strike action.
Labour law manages to be both a highly useful subject and an intellectually stimulating one. There are plenty of opportunities to use your knowledge in practice as a solicitor or barrister, or just to be aware of your own rights at work. But the subject also throws up big questions about dignity, rights, justice and fairness, as well as about how to build a thriving economy. Political parties on the right or left generally have quite different ideas about what labour law should look like, so the subject should be of considerable interest to anyone who is concerned with the interaction between law, politics and society.
The course takes a thematic approach: you are not expected to acquire a detailed knowledge of the whole of this relatively large and complex field, but to be able to pick out the central themes, and integrate them into the wider social and theoretical context. We anticipate that this year’s exam will require you to answer four questions from a choice of ten.
The subject is taught by means of a programme of seminars in Michaelmas and Hilary Terms, and by tutorials which are co-ordinated with them. We cover four topics in Michaelmas and three in Hilary, and there is an introductory session at the start of Michaelmas. For each of the seven topics, we will provide a two-hour seminar introducing the material, with ample opportunity for you to ask questions and take part in discussion. There will be a total of four tutorials for the course, allowing you to focus on issues of particular interest to you and to explore the way in which different parts of the course fit together. We may offer an additional session in Hilary Term covering a ‘hot topic’ of current interest or dealing with recent developments, in order to help with your revision.
Learning outcomes: an understanding of the central themes of labour law, including individual and collective topics, and the associated social and political context.
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?
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.
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.
This option studies the history of the judicial system and sources of English law and of the principal features of the branches of law that are today known as tort, contract, land law, and trusts. The course is taught using a selection of primary sources (in translation where necessary) and of academic literature. The timespan covered varies with the particular topics, but is roughly between the thirteenth and the nineteenth century. This period, of course, contains a large number of separable issues, and the course is designed so that individuals can follow to some extent their own preferences, both amongst and within the major heads of study.
The teaching presumes a familiarity with the notions of property, tort and contract law and is virtually exclusively taught as a final year option. The legal history does not serve as an introduction to the modern law; if anything, the converse is the case. It is in this sense an advanced course; the feedback to the modern law is conceptual or theoretical, though a study of the history may occasionally illuminate a modern problem. There is, however, absolutely no need to have studied any other kind of English history, nor is familiarity with foreign languages necessary since the course is designed around translated materials.
Learning outcomes: an understanding of the origins of English law and the judicial system and a more specialised knowledge of developments in English law during the period between the thirteenth and nineteenth century, including an understanding of relevant social, political and economic contexts.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.