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Courses

The courses we offer are:

Undergraduate

FHS (Phase II)

The degree is awarded on the basis of nine final examinations at the end of the three-year course (or four years in the case of Law with Law Studies in Europe) and (for students who began the course in October 2011 or later) an essay in Jurisprudence written over the summer vacation at the end of the second year. Note: the Jurisprudence exam at the end of the third year is correspondingly shorter. This phase of the Final Honour School includes the third term of the first year, and all three terms of the second year.

Administrative Law

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Constitutional and 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.

Contract

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

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.

 

Jurisprudence

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

Land Law

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

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).

Teaching Conventions:

(a) Estates and interests in land; the idea of ownership

(b) Formalities required for transactions relating to land: estoppels

(c) Successive and concurrent interests

(d) Leases

(e) Easements, covenants, licences

(f) Mortgages

(g) Protection of title to and of rights in and over land by registration

(h) Human rights as relevant to land law. [W.e.f. FHS 2015 for Course 1, 2016 for Course 2.]

(i) Acquisition of title by possession; Loss of title because of dispossession. [W.e.f. FHS 2016 for Course 1, 2017 for Course 2.]

 Candidates will not be expected to display in-depth knowledge of human rights issues in answering problem questions.

Materials available in exam:

Details to be advised. Materials supplied last year are listed on the front of last year’s examination paper (see www.oxam.ox.ac.uk)

 

Tort

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

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.

Trusts

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

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.

Teaching Conventions:

1 The idea of a trust; beneficiaries’ rights.

• The ‘categories’ of express, resulting and constructive trusts. • The beneficiary principle. • The nature and characteristics of a beneficiary’s interest under a trust (including the effect of the rule in Saunders v Vautier); the transfer of such an interest (including the formality rules relevant to this). • Purpose trusts (non-charitable and charitable, including the rules defining a charitable purpose); purported gifts to unincorporated associations; Quistclose trusts.

2 Express trusts

• Their essential requirements (notably ‘the three certainties’, but not the rule against perpetuities). • Formality rules relevant to express trusts (arising inter vivos and on death); the effect of non-compliance with these rules (including the rule in Rochefoucauld v Boustead and secret trusts, but not including mutual wills). • The effect of promises to settle.

3 Constructive trusts

• Certain possible instances of constructive trusts: those associated with: - acquisition by fiduciaries (Keech v Sandford, A-G for Hong Kong v Reid); - vendor-purchaser contracts (Lysaght v Edwards) (but not the details of these); - transfers ‘subject to’ the rights of others (Binions v Evans, Lyus v Prowsa Developments); - failure for want of formality (Rochefoucauld v Boustead, Blackwell v Blackwell); - co-operative acquisitions (Banner Homes v Luff Developments);  - the tracing rules (Foskett v McKeown); - mistaken payment (Chase Manhattan v Israel-British Bank); - ‘family property’ (Gissing v Gissing); - perfecting imperfect gifts (Pennington v Waine). • ‘Remedial’ constructive trusts.

4 Resulting trusts

5 Duties and powers

 The duties and powers of the trustees of non-charitable trusts. • The enforcement and control of these duties and powers; personal and proprietary remedies (including the tracing rules); the rule in Re Hastings-Bass; trustees’ obligations to disclose information. • Exclusion clauses; the defence of consent to breach of trust, and that in the Trustee Act 1925 s 61, but not other defences. • Delegation. • The possible differences in these respects between express, constructive and resulting trusts. • Fiduciary duties where there is no underlying trust.

6 Trusts and third parties

• The impact of trusts on those not, or not originally, their trustees; recipient and accessory liability, and trusteeship by assumption.

Materials available in exam:

Details to be advised. Materials supplied last year are listed on the front of last year’s examination paper (see www.oxam.ox.ac.uk)

FHS - Final Year (Phase III)

The degree is awarded on the basis of nine final examinations at the end of the three-year course (or four years in the case of Law with Law Studies in Europe) and (for students who began the course in October 2011 or later) an essay in Jurisprudence written over the summer vacation at the end of the second year. Note: the Jurisprudence exam at the end of the third year is correspondingly shorter. This phase of the Final Honour School includes the first and second term of the final year; the Final Examinations are taken in the third term of the final year.

European Union Law

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

 

Commercial Law

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

The course is taught by Dr. Thomas Krebs, Professor Louise Gullifer and Professor Hugh Beale. Teaching is by a combination of tutorials (arranged by your college tutor), and seminars given in Michaelmas and Hilary Terms. Lectures are also given in Michaelmas and Hilary Terms.

Commercial Leases (not offered in 2015-16)

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

A majority of commercial property (shops, offices, and industrial units) is rented property. Leasehold commercial property is therefore very important to the UK economy and to legal practice. This course will provide an understanding of the legal relationship of landlord and tenant in the context of the letting of commercial property. It will encourage students to think about the lease as a contractual arrangement, a proprietary estate and as a regulated instrument, and what the appropriate way is to regulate the division of interest between landlord and tenant. It should appeal to students who have enjoyed contract law, but also builds on aspects of the land law course.

For tenants, flexibility is important. If the business is successful, and its location important, it will want to stay put, even after the lease ends. If the business grows or shrinks it may need to be able to get out of the lease, by selling it or surrendering it. For many landlords, the lease is an investment and they will focus on the lease as a tool for guaranteed, low risk, but rising income. Both parties will want a property that is well maintained, but who should pay for this? The course will look at how leases balance these interests through the contract, but also at when the government has stepped in to regulate.

There are three main stages in the leasehold relationship: entering into the lease, management issues, and ending the relationship. The major influence upon the legal relationship of landlord and tenant is the lease contract negotiated between the parties. The course will therefore look at how leases are distinguishable from other occupancy relationships, and the main terms that appear in leases. In doing so, it will consider the range of factors that influence the content of the lease, such as the type and location of property, the relative negotiating strength of the parties, and wider economic and social policies. The course will also explore how leases provide for management of the property during the lease: allocating responsibility and liability for repair, how the property can be used, reviewing the rent, and servicing the property. As estates, leases can be ‘sold’ or assigned: the course will look at the ability of landlords to control the disposition of leasehold interests, and the impact that this has upon the enforcement of the leasehold covenants between both the original landlord and tenant, and between the current landlord and tenant. It will also look at rights that the tenant has to renew the lease at the end of the term. Leases usually contain ‘forfeiture’ provisions, enabling the landlord to end the lease early in the event of tenant default and the course will look at how this right has been regulated by common law and statute.

Exploring the legal relationship will, therefore, involve looking at the application of principles of land law and contract law that law students will already have encountered (such as the distinction between leases and licences, and principles of contractual interpretation) as well as the law (both statutory and common law) specific to commercial leases.

Company Law

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

Comparative Private Law

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Comparative 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), land 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 lecture and a two-hour class contrasting English law with the solutions found in other jurisdictions. 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 throughout 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.

Competition Law and Policy

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

The aim of the course is to enable students to critically reflect upon the basic 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.

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 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

Constitutional Law (Senior Status only)

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

This course covers the law of the constitution, including the structure and basic principles of the British constitution, and the impact of European Community 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.

 

Copyright, Patents and Allied Rights

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

It is commonplace to claim that we live in an information and technological age, and that rights in creative and informational works, and in technology, are becoming increasingly important. In this course we introduce two of the central regimes for the protection of those rights – copyright and patent law - and their allied regimes. Copyright protects authorial works and recordings/transmissions of them, and is supported by the moral rights and performance rights regimes (which give authors and performers additional rights in respect of their works and performances). Patent law protects inventions, ie, technical ideas for doing things of use in industry (such as making drugs and drilling for oil). We ask why we have these regimes and how they operate at a national and European level. The course should appeal to those interested in the arts and entertainment industries, publishing, literary theory, information technology, research and development, trade, unfair competition, medical law and ethics, European harmonisation, EU law, science and intellectual property practice. It will be taught in eight two-hour seminars and six one-hour tutorials spread over Michaelmas and Hilary Terms by Lord L Hoffmann and Dr J Pila.

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

 

Copyright, Trade Marks and Allied Rights

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

It is commonplace to claim that we live in an information and consumer age, and that rights in creative and informational works, and in words, logos and other signs used in trade, are becoming increasingly important. In this course we introduce two of the central regimes for the protection of those rights – copyright and trade mark law – and certain of their allied regimes. Copyright protects authorial works and recordings/transmissions of them, and is supported by the moral rights and performance rights regimes (which give authors and performers additional rights in respect of their works and performances). Trade mark law protects signs that indicate the commercial origin of goods and services, and is supported by the passing off action (which protects against certain unauthorized uses of information to mislead or deceive the market). We ask why we have these regimes and how they operate at a national and European level. The course should appeal to those interested in the arts and entertainment industries, publishing, literary theory, brand management, European harmonisation, EU law, unfair competition and intellectual property practice. It will be taught in eight two-hour seminars and six one-hour tutorials spread over Michaelmas and Hilary Terms by Dr J Pila and Dr D Gangjee.

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

Criminal Law (Senior Status only)

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

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.

Criminology and Criminal Justice

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

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 system. 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 as well four classes and tutorials

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.

Environmental Law

Please see also the 'what we do' page for 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 EU environmental law. Environmental law is concerned with the law relating to the protection of the environment and includes areas such as planing law,  pollution control law, nature conservation, environmental impact assessment, waste law, and EU free movement law. Much of the substance of UK environmental law is derived from EU law and as a subject environmental law builds on the core subjects of EU Law and Administrative Law as well as applying concepts from other areas such as criminal law and tort law.

The course will take into consideration the socio-political context that environmental law operates in and the course will explore the complex and ever expanding case law and legislation on the subject. A major theme of the course is the type of challenges that environmental problems provide for the law. 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’ 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 weighed up against other social goals; what are the best means of achieving environmental protection; and how much regulatory autonomy should Member States have under EU law to protect the environment in the way they so wish.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge of the substantive  legal aspects of most significant environmental law frameworks in the UK

Knowledge 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 EU law and administrative law

European Human Rights Law

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

The objective of the course is to provide a thorough grounding in the application of the European Convention on Human Rights. The primary aim is to introduce students to the substance of Convention rights and to their interpretation and enforcement, including the relevant jurisprudence of the European Court on Human Rights. This will include an analysis of general principles as well as broad themes arising from the interpretation and limits of several specific Convention rights (such as fair trial, protection of private life, and non-discrimination). Other European conventions and institutions will be referred to when relevant. 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, in Europe; be familiar with and able to apply the relevant provisions of the ECHR to practical problems concerning a range of the rights and liberties; have a knowledge and understanding of the European Human Rights system as a whole and the place of the Convention in that system; and have an understanding of the institutional procedural requirements for bringing human rights claims under the ECHR. Teaching will take place over Michaelmas and Hilary Terms, and will consist of a combination of lectures, seminars, classes and tutorials.

Family Law

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

History of English Law

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

This option studies the history of the development of the sources of law and of the principal features of the branches of law that are today known as land law, trusts, tort, and contract. The course is taught using a selection of primary sources (in translation where necessary) and of academic literature. The timespan covered varies between 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 examination paper contains an above average number of questions, (currently 12), which reflects this flexibility. The treatment of the subject is primarily legal, though the political, social and economic constituents in the story are referred to whenever this assists our perception of specifically legal ideas.

The teaching presumes a familiarity with the notions of property, tort and contract law and is 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.

Teaching is by lectures running down to HT week 6, and six tutorials running in MT and HT

International Trade

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

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 are given in Michaelmas Term on 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 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.

Labour Law

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

Media Law

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

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. 

 

Medical Law and Ethics

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

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.

Moral and Political Philosophy

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

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.

Personal Property

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

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 MT and HT.

 

Public International Law

Please see also the 'what we do' page for 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. Iraq), environmental protection, the scope of human rights protection (e.g. the ‘war on terrorism’), 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 anti-trust and other forms 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, the law of foreign investment, State responsibility, the use of force and the procedures for peaceful settlement of disputes. In addition, the lectures introduce students to special 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. Thus, different teachers will focus on different selected topics, and the student will find that it is not necessary to know the whole syllabus from A to Z. In the same context, the Schools paper provides a wide selection of questions.

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. Thus, different teachers will focus on different selected topics, and the student will find that it is not necessary to know the whole syllabus from A to Z. In the same context, the Schools paper provides a wide selection of questions.

Roman Law (Delict)

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

The Roman Law option focuses on set texts from the Institutes and Digest. Its primary aim is to understand those texts and the ideas and methods of the great Roman jurists who wrote them. The secondary aim is, by comparison, to throw light on the law of our own time. It caters for the interests of those who are interested in making use of their classical background or of developing the knowledge of Roman law they have acquired by taking the ‘A Roman Introduction to Private Law’ course in Law Moderations, although it is not essential to have done the Roman Law course for Mods. It allows students to study in some detail the outlook and methods of reasoning of the classical jurists who provide the models on which professional legal argument has ever since been based. In practice this will lead to discuss fundamentals of the law of delicts/torts, aided by the comparison with English cases.

The lectures are based, so far as the Roman law is concerned, on the set texts, in English translation. Indeed, one of the advantages of this course from the point of view of students is that the body of relevant texts and other authoritative material is more limited than it is in most, perhaps all, the other options. It is possible to concentrate on detail. In the examination candidates are required to comment on selections from the set translated texts and on questions regarding the literature given for the texts. Knowledge of Latin is not required or necessary, sensitivity for the philological aspects of the originals, when relevant, is. Much literature will quote Latin phrases but it practice this should not cause problems; for fully cited texts either the translation is present in the set texts or it is separately provided.

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.

Taxation Law

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

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 accounting 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.

Diploma in Legal Studies

Administrative Law

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Constitutional and 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.

Contract

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

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.

 

Land Law

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

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).

Teaching Conventions:

(a) Estates and interests in land; the idea of ownership

(b) Formalities required for transactions relating to land: estoppels

(c) Successive and concurrent interests

(d) Leases

(e) Easements, covenants, licences

(f) Mortgages

(g) Protection of title to and of rights in and over land by registration

(h) Human rights as relevant to land law. [W.e.f. FHS 2015 for Course 1, 2016 for Course 2.]

(i) Acquisition of title by possession; Loss of title because of dispossession. [W.e.f. FHS 2016 for Course 1, 2017 for Course 2.]

 Candidates will not be expected to display in-depth knowledge of human rights issues in answering problem questions.

Materials available in exam:

Details to be advised. Materials supplied last year are listed on the front of last year’s examination paper (see www.oxam.ox.ac.uk)

 

Tort

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

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.

Trusts

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

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.

Teaching Conventions:

1 The idea of a trust; beneficiaries’ rights.

• The ‘categories’ of express, resulting and constructive trusts. • The beneficiary principle. • The nature and characteristics of a beneficiary’s interest under a trust (including the effect of the rule in Saunders v Vautier); the transfer of such an interest (including the formality rules relevant to this). • Purpose trusts (non-charitable and charitable, including the rules defining a charitable purpose); purported gifts to unincorporated associations; Quistclose trusts.

2 Express trusts

• Their essential requirements (notably ‘the three certainties’, but not the rule against perpetuities). • Formality rules relevant to express trusts (arising inter vivos and on death); the effect of non-compliance with these rules (including the rule in Rochefoucauld v Boustead and secret trusts, but not including mutual wills). • The effect of promises to settle.

3 Constructive trusts

• Certain possible instances of constructive trusts: those associated with: - acquisition by fiduciaries (Keech v Sandford, A-G for Hong Kong v Reid); - vendor-purchaser contracts (Lysaght v Edwards) (but not the details of these); - transfers ‘subject to’ the rights of others (Binions v Evans, Lyus v Prowsa Developments); - failure for want of formality (Rochefoucauld v Boustead, Blackwell v Blackwell); - co-operative acquisitions (Banner Homes v Luff Developments);  - the tracing rules (Foskett v McKeown); - mistaken payment (Chase Manhattan v Israel-British Bank); - ‘family property’ (Gissing v Gissing); - perfecting imperfect gifts (Pennington v Waine). • ‘Remedial’ constructive trusts.

4 Resulting trusts

5 Duties and powers

 The duties and powers of the trustees of non-charitable trusts. • The enforcement and control of these duties and powers; personal and proprietary remedies (including the tracing rules); the rule in Re Hastings-Bass; trustees’ obligations to disclose information. • Exclusion clauses; the defence of consent to breach of trust, and that in the Trustee Act 1925 s 61, but not other defences. • Delegation. • The possible differences in these respects between express, constructive and resulting trusts. • Fiduciary duties where there is no underlying trust.

6 Trusts and third parties

• The impact of trusts on those not, or not originally, their trustees; recipient and accessory liability, and trusteeship by assumption.

Materials available in exam:

Details to be advised. Materials supplied last year are listed on the front of last year’s examination paper (see www.oxam.ox.ac.uk)

European Union Law

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

 

Company Law

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

Competition Law and Policy

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

The aim of the course is to enable students to critically reflect upon the basic 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.

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 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

Copyright, Patents and Allied Rights

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

It is commonplace to claim that we live in an information and technological age, and that rights in creative and informational works, and in technology, are becoming increasingly important. In this course we introduce two of the central regimes for the protection of those rights – copyright and patent law - and their allied regimes. Copyright protects authorial works and recordings/transmissions of them, and is supported by the moral rights and performance rights regimes (which give authors and performers additional rights in respect of their works and performances). Patent law protects inventions, ie, technical ideas for doing things of use in industry (such as making drugs and drilling for oil). We ask why we have these regimes and how they operate at a national and European level. The course should appeal to those interested in the arts and entertainment industries, publishing, literary theory, information technology, research and development, trade, unfair competition, medical law and ethics, European harmonisation, EU law, science and intellectual property practice. It will be taught in eight two-hour seminars and six one-hour tutorials spread over Michaelmas and Hilary Terms by Lord L Hoffmann and Dr J Pila.

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

 

Copyright, Trade Marks and Allied Rights

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

It is commonplace to claim that we live in an information and consumer age, and that rights in creative and informational works, and in words, logos and other signs used in trade, are becoming increasingly important. In this course we introduce two of the central regimes for the protection of those rights – copyright and trade mark law – and certain of their allied regimes. Copyright protects authorial works and recordings/transmissions of them, and is supported by the moral rights and performance rights regimes (which give authors and performers additional rights in respect of their works and performances). Trade mark law protects signs that indicate the commercial origin of goods and services, and is supported by the passing off action (which protects against certain unauthorized uses of information to mislead or deceive the market). We ask why we have these regimes and how they operate at a national and European level. The course should appeal to those interested in the arts and entertainment industries, publishing, literary theory, brand management, European harmonisation, EU law, unfair competition and intellectual property practice. It will be taught in eight two-hour seminars and six one-hour tutorials spread over Michaelmas and Hilary Terms by Dr J Pila and Dr D Gangjee.

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

Criminology and Criminal Justice

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

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 system. 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 as well four classes and tutorials

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.

Environmental Law

Please see also the 'what we do' page for 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 EU environmental law. Environmental law is concerned with the law relating to the protection of the environment and includes areas such as planing law,  pollution control law, nature conservation, environmental impact assessment, waste law, and EU free movement law. Much of the substance of UK environmental law is derived from EU law and as a subject environmental law builds on the core subjects of EU Law and Administrative Law as well as applying concepts from other areas such as criminal law and tort law.

The course will take into consideration the socio-political context that environmental law operates in and the course will explore the complex and ever expanding case law and legislation on the subject. A major theme of the course is the type of challenges that environmental problems provide for the law. 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’ 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 weighed up against other social goals; what are the best means of achieving environmental protection; and how much regulatory autonomy should Member States have under EU law to protect the environment in the way they so wish.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge of the substantive  legal aspects of most significant environmental law frameworks in the UK

Knowledge 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 EU law and administrative law

European Human Rights Law

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

The objective of the course is to provide a thorough grounding in the application of the European Convention on Human Rights. The primary aim is to introduce students to the substance of Convention rights and to their interpretation and enforcement, including the relevant jurisprudence of the European Court on Human Rights. This will include an analysis of general principles as well as broad themes arising from the interpretation and limits of several specific Convention rights (such as fair trial, protection of private life, and non-discrimination). Other European conventions and institutions will be referred to when relevant. 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, in Europe; be familiar with and able to apply the relevant provisions of the ECHR to practical problems concerning a range of the rights and liberties; have a knowledge and understanding of the European Human Rights system as a whole and the place of the Convention in that system; and have an understanding of the institutional procedural requirements for bringing human rights claims under the ECHR. Teaching will take place over Michaelmas and Hilary Terms, and will consist of a combination of lectures, seminars, classes and tutorials.

Family Law

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

History of English Law

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

This option studies the history of the development of the sources of law and of the principal features of the branches of law that are today known as land law, trusts, tort, and contract. The course is taught using a selection of primary sources (in translation where necessary) and of academic literature. The timespan covered varies between 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 examination paper contains an above average number of questions, (currently 12), which reflects this flexibility. The treatment of the subject is primarily legal, though the political, social and economic constituents in the story are referred to whenever this assists our perception of specifically legal ideas.

The teaching presumes a familiarity with the notions of property, tort and contract law and is 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.

Teaching is by lectures running down to HT week 6, and six tutorials running in MT and HT

Labour Law

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

Media Law

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

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. 

 

Medical Law and Ethics

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

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.

Personal Property

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

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 MT and HT.

 

Public International Law

Please see also the 'what we do' page for 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. Iraq), environmental protection, the scope of human rights protection (e.g. the ‘war on terrorism’), 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 anti-trust and other forms 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, the law of foreign investment, State responsibility, the use of force and the procedures for peaceful settlement of disputes. In addition, the lectures introduce students to special 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. Thus, different teachers will focus on different selected topics, and the student will find that it is not necessary to know the whole syllabus from A to Z. In the same context, the Schools paper provides a wide selection of questions.

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. Thus, different teachers will focus on different selected topics, and the student will find that it is not necessary to know the whole syllabus from A to Z. In the same context, the Schools paper provides a wide selection of questions.

Roman Law (Delict)

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

The Roman Law option focuses on set texts from the Institutes and Digest. Its primary aim is to understand those texts and the ideas and methods of the great Roman jurists who wrote them. The secondary aim is, by comparison, to throw light on the law of our own time. It caters for the interests of those who are interested in making use of their classical background or of developing the knowledge of Roman law they have acquired by taking the ‘A Roman Introduction to Private Law’ course in Law Moderations, although it is not essential to have done the Roman Law course for Mods. It allows students to study in some detail the outlook and methods of reasoning of the classical jurists who provide the models on which professional legal argument has ever since been based. In practice this will lead to discuss fundamentals of the law of delicts/torts, aided by the comparison with English cases.

The lectures are based, so far as the Roman law is concerned, on the set texts, in English translation. Indeed, one of the advantages of this course from the point of view of students is that the body of relevant texts and other authoritative material is more limited than it is in most, perhaps all, the other options. It is possible to concentrate on detail. In the examination candidates are required to comment on selections from the set translated texts and on questions regarding the literature given for the texts. Knowledge of Latin is not required or necessary, sensitivity for the philological aspects of the originals, when relevant, is. Much literature will quote Latin phrases but it practice this should not cause problems; for fully cited texts either the translation is present in the set texts or it is separately provided.

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.

Postgraduate

BCL

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

A Primer on EU Law

Dr von Goldbeck

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

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

Children, Families, and the State

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

I.          Overview

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

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

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

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

 

II.        Syllabus

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

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

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

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

 

III.       Assessment

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

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

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

 

IV.       Learning Outcomes

Through studying this Option, you will be able to:

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

 

V.         Course Content in Detail

The course covers 10 substantive topics, as follows:

1.    Theories of children’s rights

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

2.    International children’s rights

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

3.    Children’s welfare and wellbeing

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

4.    Poverty and children

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

5.    International procreation and parenthood

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

6.    Parental responsibilities and rights

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

7.    Gender and family law

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

8.    Family violence

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

9.    Diversity, religion, and families

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

10.      Family law systems

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

Conflict of Laws

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

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

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

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

Corporate Insolvency Law

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

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

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

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

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

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

European Private Law: Contract

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

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

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

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

Evidence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lecture Plan

Michaelmas Term:

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

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

Hilary Term:

Dr Katharine Grevling: Illegally obtained evidence (8 lectures)

Professor Dyson Heydon: Hearsay (4 lectures)

Professor Roderick Bagshaw: Secret evidence (4 lectures)

Dr Amit Pundik: Statistical evidence (4 lectures)

Trinity Term:

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

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

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

Tutorials:

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

 

International Criminal Law

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

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

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

International Law of the Sea

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jurisprudence and Political Theory

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

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

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

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

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

 

Medical Law and Ethics

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

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

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

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

Philosophical Foundations of the Common Law

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

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

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

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

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

Principles of Civil Procedure

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

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

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

 The course contains the following topics:

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

 

Principles of Financial Regulation

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

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

Punishment, Security and the State

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roman Law (Delict)

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

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

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

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

MJur

Our taught postgraduate programme, designed to serve outstanding law students from civil law backgrounds.

Administrative Law (also part of the BA course)

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Constitutional and 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.

Contract (also part of the BA course)

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

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.

 

Land Law (also part of the BA course)

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

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).

Teaching Conventions:

(a) Estates and interests in land; the idea of ownership

(b) Formalities required for transactions relating to land: estoppels

(c) Successive and concurrent interests

(d) Leases

(e) Easements, covenants, licences

(f) Mortgages

(g) Protection of title to and of rights in and over land by registration

(h) Human rights as relevant to land law. [W.e.f. FHS 2015 for Course 1, 2016 for Course 2.]

(i) Acquisition of title by possession; Loss of title because of dispossession. [W.e.f. FHS 2016 for Course 1, 2017 for Course 2.]

 Candidates will not be expected to display in-depth knowledge of human rights issues in answering problem questions.

Materials available in exam:

Details to be advised. Materials supplied last year are listed on the front of last year’s examination paper (see www.oxam.ox.ac.uk)

 

Tort (also part of the BA course)

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

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.

Trusts (also part of the BA course)

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

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.

Teaching Conventions:

1 The idea of a trust; beneficiaries’ rights.

• The ‘categories’ of express, resulting and constructive trusts. • The beneficiary principle. • The nature and characteristics of a beneficiary’s interest under a trust (including the effect of the rule in Saunders v Vautier); the transfer of such an interest (including the formality rules relevant to this). • Purpose trusts (non-charitable and charitable, including the rules defining a charitable purpose); purported gifts to unincorporated associations; Quistclose trusts.

2 Express trusts

• Their essential requirements (notably ‘the three certainties’, but not the rule against perpetuities). • Formality rules relevant to express trusts (arising inter vivos and on death); the effect of non-compliance with these rules (including the rule in Rochefoucauld v Boustead and secret trusts, but not including mutual wills). • The effect of promises to settle.

3 Constructive trusts

• Certain possible instances of constructive trusts: those associated with: - acquisition by fiduciaries (Keech v Sandford, A-G for Hong Kong v Reid); - vendor-purchaser contracts (Lysaght v Edwards) (but not the details of these); - transfers ‘subject to’ the rights of others (Binions v Evans, Lyus v Prowsa Developments); - failure for want of formality (Rochefoucauld v Boustead, Blackwell v Blackwell); - co-operative acquisitions (Banner Homes v Luff Developments);  - the tracing rules (Foskett v McKeown); - mistaken payment (Chase Manhattan v Israel-British Bank); - ‘family property’ (Gissing v Gissing); - perfecting imperfect gifts (Pennington v Waine). • ‘Remedial’ constructive trusts.

4 Resulting trusts

5 Duties and powers

 The duties and powers of the trustees of non-charitable trusts. • The enforcement and control of these duties and powers; personal and proprietary remedies (including the tracing rules); the rule in Re Hastings-Bass; trustees’ obligations to disclose information. • Exclusion clauses; the defence of consent to breach of trust, and that in the Trustee Act 1925 s 61, but not other defences. • Delegation. • The possible differences in these respects between express, constructive and resulting trusts. • Fiduciary duties where there is no underlying trust.

6 Trusts and third parties

• The impact of trusts on those not, or not originally, their trustees; recipient and accessory liability, and trusteeship by assumption.

Materials available in exam:

Details to be advised. Materials supplied last year are listed on the front of last year’s examination paper (see www.oxam.ox.ac.uk)

Company Law (also part of the BA course)

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

Comparative Private Law (also part of the BA course)

Please see also the 'what we do' page for Comparative 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), land 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 lecture and a two-hour class contrasting English law with the solutions found in other jurisdictions. 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 throughout 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.

Copyright, Patents and Allied Rights (also part of the BA course)

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

It is commonplace to claim that we live in an information and technological age, and that rights in creative and informational works, and in technology, are becoming increasingly important. In this course we introduce two of the central regimes for the protection of those rights – copyright and patent law - and their allied regimes. Copyright protects authorial works and recordings/transmissions of them, and is supported by the moral rights and performance rights regimes (which give authors and performers additional rights in respect of their works and performances). Patent law protects inventions, ie, technical ideas for doing things of use in industry (such as making drugs and drilling for oil). We ask why we have these regimes and how they operate at a national and European level. The course should appeal to those interested in the arts and entertainment industries, publishing, literary theory, information technology, research and development, trade, unfair competition, medical law and ethics, European harmonisation, EU law, science and intellectual property practice. It will be taught in eight two-hour seminars and six one-hour tutorials spread over Michaelmas and Hilary Terms by Lord L Hoffmann and Dr J Pila.

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

 

Copyright, Trade Marks and Allied Rights (also part of the BA course)

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

It is commonplace to claim that we live in an information and consumer age, and that rights in creative and informational works, and in words, logos and other signs used in trade, are becoming increasingly important. In this course we introduce two of the central regimes for the protection of those rights – copyright and trade mark law – and certain of their allied regimes. Copyright protects authorial works and recordings/transmissions of them, and is supported by the moral rights and performance rights regimes (which give authors and performers additional rights in respect of their works and performances). Trade mark law protects signs that indicate the commercial origin of goods and services, and is supported by the passing off action (which protects against certain unauthorized uses of information to mislead or deceive the market). We ask why we have these regimes and how they operate at a national and European level. The course should appeal to those interested in the arts and entertainment industries, publishing, literary theory, brand management, European harmonisation, EU law, unfair competition and intellectual property practice. It will be taught in eight two-hour seminars and six one-hour tutorials spread over Michaelmas and Hilary Terms by Dr J Pila and Dr D Gangjee.

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

European Human Rights Law (also part of the BA course)

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

The objective of the course is to provide a thorough grounding in the application of the European Convention on Human Rights. The primary aim is to introduce students to the substance of Convention rights and to their interpretation and enforcement, including the relevant jurisprudence of the European Court on Human Rights. This will include an analysis of general principles as well as broad themes arising from the interpretation and limits of several specific Convention rights (such as fair trial, protection of private life, and non-discrimination). Other European conventions and institutions will be referred to when relevant. 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, in Europe; be familiar with and able to apply the relevant provisions of the ECHR to practical problems concerning a range of the rights and liberties; have a knowledge and understanding of the European Human Rights system as a whole and the place of the Convention in that system; and have an understanding of the institutional procedural requirements for bringing human rights claims under the ECHR. Teaching will take place over Michaelmas and Hilary Terms, and will consist of a combination of lectures, seminars, classes and tutorials.

Family Law (also part of the BA course)

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

Public International Law (also part of the BA course)

Please see also the 'what we do' page for 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. Iraq), environmental protection, the scope of human rights protection (e.g. the ‘war on terrorism’), 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 anti-trust and other forms 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, the law of foreign investment, State responsibility, the use of force and the procedures for peaceful settlement of disputes. In addition, the lectures introduce students to special 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. Thus, different teachers will focus on different selected topics, and the student will find that it is not necessary to know the whole syllabus from A to Z. In the same context, the Schools paper provides a wide selection of questions.

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. Thus, different teachers will focus on different selected topics, and the student will find that it is not necessary to know the whole syllabus from A to Z. In the same context, the Schools paper provides a wide selection of questions.

A Primer on EU Law

Dr von Goldbeck

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

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

Children, Families, and the State

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

I.          Overview

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

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

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

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

 

II.        Syllabus

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

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

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

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

 

III.       Assessment

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

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

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

 

IV.       Learning Outcomes

Through studying this Option, you will be able to:

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

 

V.         Course Content in Detail

The course covers 10 substantive topics, as follows:

1.    Theories of children’s rights

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

2.    International children’s rights

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

3.    Children’s welfare and wellbeing

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

4.    Poverty and children

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

5.    International procreation and parenthood

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

6.    Parental responsibilities and rights

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

7.    Gender and family law

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

8.    Family violence

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

9.    Diversity, religion, and families

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

10.      Family law systems

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

Conflict of Laws

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

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

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

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

Corporate Insolvency Law

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

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

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

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

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

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

European Private Law: Contract

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

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

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

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

Evidence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lecture Plan

Michaelmas Term:

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

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

Hilary Term:

Dr Katharine Grevling: Illegally obtained evidence (8 lectures)

Professor Dyson Heydon: Hearsay (4 lectures)

Professor Roderick Bagshaw: Secret evidence (4 lectures)

Dr Amit Pundik: Statistical evidence (4 lectures)

Trinity Term:

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

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

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

Tutorials:

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

 

International Criminal Law

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

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

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

International Law of the Sea

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jurisprudence and Political Theory

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

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

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

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

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

 

Medical Law and Ethics

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

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

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

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

Philosophical Foundations of the Common Law

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

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

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

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

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

Principles of Civil Procedure

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

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

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

 The course contains the following topics:

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

 

Principles of Financial Regulation

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

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

Punishment, Security and the State

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roman Law (Delict)

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

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

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

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

MSc (Master's in Law and Finance)

Finance I

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

This course lays out the foundations of Finance with a particular emphasis on the financial decisions taken by firms. We begin by developing a framework for the financial evaluation of investment decisions. We introduce the concept of discounting and the net present value as a tool for investment appraisal. The course then moves on to develop a measure of risk and presents a model that allows us to evaluate risk (the Capital Asset Pricing Model). We then introduce another important financial decision by the firm, namely through what source (debt, equity etc.) to fund its activities. We will use insights from the modelling of risk to understand how different sources of finance affect the riskiness and therefore the price of financial claims issued by the firm. The course then shows how the previous models and concepts can be used by firms to evaluate investment proposals and take optimal capital budgeting decisions. Finally, we will discuss tax implications and corporate governance issues related to firms’ financial decisions.

Finance II

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

This course builds on and develops the concepts covered in Finance I. We consider asymmetric information and capital structure; dividend and share repurchase policy; issues in capital budgeting; the concept of adjusted present value; the nature and pricing of financial and real options, and the valuation of complex capital investment projects. Students are also expected to carry out a case analysis of payout policy.

First Principles of Financial Economics

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

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.

Law and Economics of Corporate Transactions

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

This course, which runs during the Hilary and Trinity terms, gives students a toolkit for structuring common corporate transactions. It acts as the fulcrum for the programme as a whole. We begin with sessions on the economic theory of contracting: the nature of the agency, hold-up costs, and other strategic behaviour to be expected in a contracting relationship. We then move on to consider six practical applications to well-known corporate transactions. In each case, an overview of the relevant legal background is introduced in class, and students are then given document packs based on real transactions to work on in a group before presenting their work to the class and academics from the disciplines of law, finance and economics. Practitioners from the leading law firms who completed the transactions under review will then talk to students about the case studies, giving their views and explaining what happened in the real scenario.

Conflict of Laws

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

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

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

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

Corporate Insolvency Law

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

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

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

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

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

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

Principles of Financial Regulation

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

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

MSc

Criminology and Criminal Justice

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

Please visit the course pages on the Centre for Criminology's dedicated website.

Criminology and Criminal Justice (Research Methods)

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

Please visit the course pages on the Centre for Criminology's dedicated website.

International Human Rights Law

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

The Law Faculty and Oxford University's Department for Continuing Education jointly provide a part-time graduate degree offered over 22 months. For further details see the course page on the Continuing Education site.


* course shared with the BA.

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