MSc in Law and Finance Options
Core (compulsory) courses
This class builds the conceptual foundation required for the economic analysis of corporate financial policy, competitive asset markets and the regulation of both corporations and financial markets. The course's lectures will focus on: rationality, the Coase Theorem, property rights, competitive markets, the market for risk, market failures, asymmetries of information, and aggregation of information.
Students on the Finance course study the financing, valuation and governance of firms. This course is very similar to courses of the same name that are taught on the MBA, but tweaked slightly to ensure they are particularly relevant for MLF students.
This course will cover:
- The valuation of a firm’s assets
- The determinants of a firm’s structure
- Capital Asset Pricing Model
- Pricing of financial options
- Investment and financing decisions
- How financial markets operate
- New issues of securities
- Debt and dividend policy
- Relevance of different financial institutions to the financing of firms
- Corporate restructurings
- Financial distress
The Law and Economics of Corporate Transactions (LECT) course is the interdisciplinary course that acts as the fulcrum for the entire MLF degree. LECT uses the tools of conventional microeconomic theory (the study of the behaviour and decision-making process of individuals, or individual firms) to help students understand how the legal structure determines the value of corporate transactions. LECT brings together students’ knowledge and the analytical techniques they have developed whilst studying the pure finance and pure law courses on the MLF, to create a single integrated “toolkit” for effectively considering corporate transactions. It does so by taking into account their legal, financial and economic issues and implications. LECT is taught in Hilary and Trinity terms.
- Economic theory of contracting
- Incomplete contracting and uncertainty
- Information costs and adverse selection
- Strategic behaviour
- Agency costs
- Professional ethics
- Hold-up costs
In the third and final term, students have to apply their studies to five well-known, real-life transactions, which is why LECT is often referred to as the “Deals course”. Students split into groups and use the theoretical materials from LECT and their finance courses, as well as what they have studied in their law electives to analyse the legal, financial, and economic issues raised by the transactions. Each group presents its work on a particular transaction to their classmates, Faculty members, and the practitioners who worked on the transaction; then, the practitioners respond to give their views and explain what happened in the real deal.
Law & Finance Options
Not every option will be available every year
Business taxation is at the very heart of business affairs and practice. In recent years it has also caught the media and the public’s attention following revelations that many well-known multinational companies were able to structure their affairs in a way that significantly lowered their global tax liabilities. This led to claims that these companies were paying less than their “fair share” of tax, to parliamentary enquires on the issue and even to public protests outside the retail outlets of some of these companies. At the same time, concerns were raised that the existing system for taxing companies is not suited for a digitalised economy. These and other concerns have led to an unprecedented coordinated international process of reform involving 137 countries. This process, which is still on-going, could lead to the most fundamental reform of the international corporate tax system since its foundations were put in place in the 1920s. But some countries, including France and the UK, sped ahead, introducing new taxes targeting digital giants such as Facebook, Amazon and Google, leading the US to threaten broader retaliation through tax and trade measures. International business taxation is highly politically sensitive.
All this means that there has never been a more exciting time to study business taxation. Not only is it of huge importance in practice, but we are also living in a period of unprecedented public, media and political interest in the topic and unprecedented change. The Covid-19 pandemic has only sharpened the focus on taxation. Countries around the world will either increase existing taxes or introduce new taxes to raise further revenues to repay the eye-watering costs of the crisis. This course will provide you with a solid understanding of how business tax systems work in a domestic and international setting. But it aims to do much more. It looks at black letter tax law but always in the context of the policy behind it. The course will thus set out some of the basic policy choices that are made when designing a business tax system and assess their strengths and weaknesses. In other words, it will critically evaluate the existing system and the different options for reform. It will also take a step back and ask more fundamental questions, including: Does a properly functioning international business tax system require cooperation among countries? Can the international tax system take account of the interests of developing countries? And most fundamentally, should we have a corporation tax at all? To undertake this critical evaluation and to answer these questions we need to combine a rigorous understanding of the law with an understanding of concepts drawn from economics and other disciplines that are essential to good tax policy making. We adopt this dual approach on this course. We will engage with the law as it emerges from statutes, case-law and international treaties, as well as concepts, theory and empirical results from economics and other literatures.
The aim of this option is to (i) introduce students to a conceptual approach to negotiation and mediation (negotiations assisted by a neutral third-party) and to the most important economic, game theoretic, psychological and legal issues and findings regarding the resolution of commercial disputes by means of negotiation and mediation; (ii) develop students’ skills in negotiating and mediating such disputes by engaging in role plays and other practical exercises, highlighting also the intercultural dimension of dispute resolution; and (iii) let students benefit from the experience of seasoned practitioners in the field who report on specific problems that arose during negotiated and/or mediated cases and provide feedback on students’ negotiation and mediation performance. By attending the course, students will gain the theoretical insights and practical skills to resolve commercial disputes by way of negotiation and/or mediation. The course will be taught by a combination of lectures, seminars, and tutorials, and will also feature practical workshops involving negotiation and mediation role play exercises. This option will not be available in 2023-24
The course offers an analytical framework and a comparative study of corporate governance and corporate law in major economies. Corporate governance, broadly defined, is the set of legal and non-legal tools that can be used to ensure that companies are run consistently with their purposes. In many jurisdictions, this has traditionally meant making sure that those in charge of making day-to-day and strategic decisions on behalf of the company act in the interests of shareholders. More recently, a ‘multi-stakeholder’ view of corporations has started to become mainstream: these are organizations whose actions affect the welfare not only of shareholders but also of creditors, employees, local communities and society more generally.
While the emphasis in the teaching will be on legal institutions, and corporate law specifically, the course materials will also cover the ways in which corporate culture, market pressures, reputational constraints, and so on, affect corporate governance and corporate law in action.
The course will be comparative, providing students with knowledge about corporate governance and corporate law core features in major jurisdictions and asking why governance regimes in most countries display some common features and why they diverge in other respects. Closer attention will be given to the UK, the US and continental European jurisdictions, but an attempt will be made to include readings covering newly emerged countries such as India, Brazil and others. This option will not be available in 2023-24
The objective of the course is to provide students with an understanding of this area of law, together with the ability to subject it to critical legal and economic analysis. The course aims to cover the main substantive laws relating to competition within the EC, including the control of monopoly and oligopoly; merger control; anti-competitive agreements; and other anti-competitive practices.
The emphasis is placed predominantly on EU competition law to reflect the importance it assumes in practice. UK competition law is also taught, both because of its value in providing a comparative study of two systems of competition law and because of its importance to the UK practitioner. The antitrust laws of the USA and competition laws of other jurisdictions are also referred to by way of comparison.
Visiting speakers: There is a programme of visiting speakers details of which are found on the CCLP website.
Learning outcomes: a comprehensive understanding of the core principles of Competition Law and its application in the EU, UK and elsewhere. At the end of the course, students should be able to critically reflect upon the law, economic and legal principles underpinning competition law enforcement.
The limited company is a hugely popular business vehicle, and the primary reason for this is its ability to act as a successful vehicle for raising business finance and diversifying financial risk. All companies need to raise money in order to function successfully. It is these "money matters" which are at the heart of corporate law, and an understanding of the ways in which companies can raise money, and the manner in which their money-raising activities are regulated, is central to an understanding of how companies function. The aims of the course are (a) to explain the complex statutory provisions governing the issue and marketing of corporate securities, against the background of business transactions; (b) to explore the fundamental legal propositions around which corporate finance transactions are usually organised and (c) to examine the means by which money is raised by borrowing and quasi-debt and different methods of securing debt obligations. Technical issues will therefore be placed in their economic and business context. There is a strong emphasis on the policy issues underlying the legal rules. The course focuses on the forms of corporate finance and on the structure and regulation of capital markets. The course also examines the attributes of the main types of securities issued by companies and the legal doctrines which are designed to resolve the conflicts of interests between shareholders and creditors. Consideration is given to the EU directives affecting the financial markets, especially the manner in which they have been implemented into English law. Many of the issues arising are of international importance and the course examines the harmonisation of these matters within the EU.
This course will be of interest to any student wishing to develop a knowledge of corporate law, as well as to those who are corporate finance specialists. No prior knowledge of the subject is required, nor is it necessary to have studied company law, though this will be of significant advantage. Those with no knowledge of company law will need to do some additional background reading prior to the start of seminars, and advice can be given on this issue.
Learning outcomes: an understanding of the means by which companies raise money and the laws which govern those activities.
The insolvency of a company gives rise to a number of fascinating questions. Why are formal (state-supplied) procedures needed for the treatment of distressed companies? When should such procedures be triggered, and for whose benefit should they be conducted? To what extent should they be geared towards the rescue of the company or its business? What rights should those to whom the company is indebted - its creditors - have over the conduct of the proceedings? In what order of priority should their claims be paid? How should the managers of the distressed company be dealt with, in and outside of formal insolvency proceedings? In this course, students explore these questions in three ways: first, by reading and evaluating theoretical and empirical literature on the purpose and design of corporate insolvency laws in general; second, by a close study of the formal insolvency and restructuring procedures available under English law, considering their operation in both purely domestic cases and in those with one or more cross-border elements; third, by exploring some of the core features of the insolvency laws of other jurisdictions, with a view to evaluating the procedures available under English law from a comparative and functional perspective.
Students taking the course can thus expect to acquire:
- an advanced understanding of English corporate insolvency law;
- knowledge of some of the core features of the corporate insolvency laws of other jurisdictions, including US, German and French law;
- knowledge of the core features of European corporate cross-border insolvency law (particularly the European Insolvency Regulation), as well as of other legal rules that influence the treatment of cross-border insolvencies in English courts;
- advanced understanding of seminal literature on the purpose and design of corporate insolvency laws, and the ability to draw on this literature to critique the laws studied in the course, or any other corporate insolvency system.
Many students taking the course intend to embark upon or continue a career in corporate or commercial law, where an advanced understanding of English corporate insolvency law (on which the insolvency laws of many other jurisdictions are modeled) is particularly valuable. However the course has also proven to be of interest to students who are interested more generally in understanding the purposes of mandatory corporate law rules, and their impact on the cost and availability of finance. No prior knowledge of corporate insolvency law is required, nor is it necessary to have studied company law, though the latter is of some advantage.
This course examines the legal basis of the "level playing field" of the internal market of the European Union, covering the law of free movement across borders (goods, establishment and services), as well as competence to regulate the internal market, with special reference to the function of harmonisation of laws.
Learning outcomes: to enable students to acquire knowledge and understanding of the law in relation to the above subject matter, and to be able to discuss critically at an advanced level the legal and policy issues arising therefrom - including in particular the relationship between the judicial and the legislative contributions to the making of the EU's internal market.
This course introduces students to the principles and institutions of international economic law. It focuses primarily on the institutions and substantive law of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), including notably the WTO dispute settlement mechanism and its substantive jurisprudence, and the main WTO Agreements, including those dealing with goods (GATT), services (GATS), the environment, subsidies, intellectual property rights, and other WTO agreements that are indispensable for a knowledge of the theory and practice (by governments, corporations, NGOS, and lawyers) of the subject area. In addition to introducing participants to the major legal disciplines under the GATT/WTO and the basic principles and cores concepts of the GATT/WTO (based on in-depth study of the relevant GATT/WTO case law), the course considers the underlying philosophy of free trade and a number of the controversies concerning the future evolution of the WTO and its relationship to globalisation, regionalism, and the attempt by States to achieve other policy objectives (such as protection of the environment).
The course also examines aspects of international investment arbitration, especially compared to WTO dispute settlement.
No prior knowledge of international law or economics is necessary. Students without such knowledge will be directed to basic reading in these fields.
Learning outcomes are an understanding of the philosophy of free trade and the law of the WTO, and the institutions responsible for its governance (including WTO dispute settlement).
This course introduces students to the fundamental pillars of International environmental law, and international climate change law, in particular. The 2015 Paris Agreement, the result of the most significant, high-stakes and high-profile multilateral negotiation in the last decade, reflects considerable innovation, with implications both for international environmental law, as well as for public international law more broadly. This course explores the conceptual architecture, principles, standards and rules of international environmental law, with a particular focus on the international law relating to climate change.
This course is divided into three parts. The first part focuses on the nature, evolution, sources and principles of international environmental law as well as key institutions and actors, tools and techniques, and compliance mechanisms. The second part engages in an in-depth case study of the climate change regime, and the third part is a practical component in multilateral environmental treaty-making.
This course, jointly offered by the Law Faculty and the Department of Computer Science, will introduce students from both backgrounds to the terrain at the boundaries of their two disciplines. The overarching theme is understanding law and computer science at their intersection.
The purpose of this course is to explore the most significant legal concepts and private law issues encountered in commercial finance and in commercial and investment banking. This is particularly topical, as many of these issues have been brought into sharp focus by the recent financial crisis.
Students will be introduced to the various concepts in contract, property and fiduciary law which are used to allocate, manage and transfer risk in transactions on capital markets and in commercial banking. They will also be invited to consider the legal nature of property, money and payment, and the conceptual basis for corporate personality and limited liability. By examining a range of transactions, and critically considering relevant case law and legislation in the light of market practice, this course will provide a deep understanding of the part that private law plays in the operation of financial markets. Transactional structures covered will include loans, guarantees, documentary credits and first demand bonds, security, debt issues on the capital markets (and other intermediated securities), derivatives and structured finance.
The focus will be on English law, although the law of other jurisdictions (particularly common law jurisdictions) will be studied where appropriate for criticism and comparison. Whilst the course will primarily be a doctrinal law course, involving close study of cases and legislation and analysis of their underlying principles, the reading lists will contain a significant amount of secondary material examining wider policy issues, different theoretical approaches and possible legal reform.
The course will be taught in twelve sets of lectures and seminars, and four tutorials. Teaching will be by Professor Ewan McKendrick QC (Hon) FBA, Professor Andreas Televantos and Visiting Professor Mr Richard Salter QC, with input from others practising in this area of law.
Learning outcomes: a knowledge of some of the more topical and/or complex issues in the banking and financial field (the particular topics selected reflecting the research and professional interests of the teaching team) and a comprehensive understanding of the part that private law plays in the operation of financial markets.
Financial regulation is subject to rapid change, and its optimal content is hotly debated. This course will introduce you to the underlying principles which various forms of financial regulation seek to implement. Students completing this course will be able to understand the regulatory goals of market efficiency, investor protection, the safety and soundness of financial institutions, and the promotion of financial stability and competition, along with the principal regulatory strategies that are employed to try to achieve these objectives in relation to financial markets and institutions.
Learning outcomes: an understanding of the functions of the financial system and the primary financial markets and institutions through which these functions are performed; an understanding of the core principles and objectives which govern financial regulation; an understanding of the regulatory strategies for achieving these objectives and the policy debates that surround them; the capacity to assess critically new developments in financial regulation and their implementation in novel contexts.
Regulation is at the core of how modern states seek to govern the activities of individual citizens as well as corporate and governmental actors. Broadly defined it includes the use of legal and non-legal techniques to manage social and economic risks. While regulation is traditionally associated with prescriptive law, public agencies and criminal as well as administrative sanctions, the politics of the shrinking state and deregulation have meant that intrusive and blunt forms of legal regulation have given way at times to facilitative, reflexive and procedural law which seeks to balance public and private interests in regulatory regimes. Enduring policy debates address whether there is actually too much, too little or the wrong type of regulation in different policy areas.
This course examines what role different forms of law play in contemporary regulatory regimes. It thereby analyses how legal regulation constructs specific relationships between law and society and how legal regulation is involved in mediating conflicts between private and public power.
The first section of the course critically examines key conceptual approaches for understanding regulation. How can economic reasoning be employed in order to justify legal regulation? Does a focus on institutions help to understand the operation of regulatory regimes? What rationalities, and hence ‘governmentalities’ are involved in regulating through law? What role do emotions, such as trust in experts, play in regulatory interactions?
The second section of the course examines specific regulatory regimes ‘in action’ against the background of the conceptual frameworks explored in the first section. In 2019-20, only the second stream of this section is being offered. The focus of this stream is on technology, and the regulatory regimes devised and adapted to meet the challenges created by developing digital and bio technologies specifically. The aim in studying these regimes is to generate insights about the different roles and expectations of law and other regulatory mechanisms, such as the market and social norms, and their capacity to function effectively and appropriately in the radically changing socio-economic environment of the current technological age.
The course thus provides an opportunity for students to examine the pervasive phenomenon of regulation with reference to different disciplinary perspectives, in particular law, sociology, politics and economics and to gain detailed knowledge of substantive regulatory law in relation to cutting-edge technological developments. It should appeal to those interested in the theory and practice of regulation, jurisprudence, new technologies, and the substantive legal fields of intellectual property, privacy and data protection, liability, competition, supranationalism, and fundamental rights.
Relationship to “Law and Computer Science” option
Regulation differs from the BCL/MJur “Law and Computer Science” option in its focus on regulation and legal solutions to the challenges created by digital and bio technologies rather than, as for Law and Computer Science, the effects of digital technology on the nature of legal work and how lawyers and computer scientists can work together to devise technical solutions to deal with them. The options will not overlap and may therefore be taken together.
The course is taught through weekly two-hour seminars - which provide opportunities for active student participation – over Michaelmas and Hilary terms. Four tutorials spread over Michaelmas, Hilary and Trinity terms will also support students’ exam preparation. The 3 hour written examination at the end of the course involves essay questions in relation to the theoretical approaches to regulation discussed in MT as well as the ‘law and technology’ case studies examined during HT. No prior knowledge of law in the fields discussed in Hilary Term is required to take this course.
The convenor of the course is Dr Bettina Lange and the course is taught by a small group of faculty members led in 2019 and 2020 by Dr. Chris Decker and Dr. Justine Pila. (Bettina Lange is on research leave during MT 2019 and HT 2020.) If you have any questions about the contents, approach or teaching methods of this course do not hesitate to make contact: email@example.com, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, Social Science Building, Manor Road.
Dr. Bettina Lange, Associate Professor in Law and Regulation
With the growth of international trade has come a growing recognition of the benefits to be obtained through the harmonization of international trade law. Transnational commercial law consists of that set of rules, from whatever source, which governs international commercial transactions and is common to a number of legal systems. Such commonality is increasingly derived from international instruments of various kinds; such as conventions, EC directives and model laws, and from codifications of international trade usage adopted by contract, as exemplified by the Uniform Customs and Practice for Documentary Credits published by the International Chamber of Commerce and the Model Arbitration Rules issued by the UN Commission on International Trade Law. Underpinning these are the general principles of commercial law (lex mercatoria) to be extracted from uncodified international trade usage, from standard-term contracts formulated by international organisation and from common principles developed by the courts and legislatures of different jurisdictions.
The first part of the course concentrates on the general framework, policies and problems of transnational commercial law, while in the second part these are examined in the context of specific international trade conventions, model laws and contractual codes, so that the student gains a perception of the way transnational law comes into being and helps to bridge the gap between different legal systems.
The course will be taught by Dr Thomas Krebs (convenor) and Professor Stefan Vogenauer. There will be eight lectures in Michaelmas Term. There will then be a weekly two-hour seminar in Hilary Term. There will also be four tutorials. The lectures and seminars will examine the following main areas: General issues of harmonisation; Recurrent problems in harmonisation through conventions; Harmonisation through specific binding instruments (Vienna Sales Convention); Harmonisation through contract and institutional rules; Harmonisation through model laws; The future development of transnational commercial law.
Note. This course is open to a maximum of twenty-four students in any one year. If applications exceed this number, a ballot will be held.
CONTENT TO BE UPDATED