Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2007-2008 (archived)

Module LAW53730: Advanced Law of Obligations

Department: Law

LAW53730: Advanced Law of Obligations

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2007/08
Tied to


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To provide an advanced study of the common law of obligations, with a particular focus on the principles and policies behind the relationship of contract and restitution in the light of recent restitution-based criticism of compensatory damages for breach of contract.


  • The syllabus covers the principles and policies that explain and justify:
  • the law of remedies for breach of contract;
  • the law of restitution as its relates to remedies for breach of contract.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students will gain an in-depth knowledge of the law of remedies for breach of contract.
  • Students will develop a critical understanding of the inter-relation between contract and restitution.
  • Students will develop a critical understanding of the principle and policies underpinning the law of obligations.
  • Students will understand the key concepts of causation, remoteness and fault.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will be able to identify the remedies available for breach of contract.
  • Students will be able to evaluate the alternative rules for the quantification of damages.
Key Skills:
  • Students will be able to demonstrate the ability to find and utilise a wide range of both electronic and printed resources.
  • Students will be able to communicate effectively both orally and in writing.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Through an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the rules of law relating to private law obligations in the common law tradition (particularly, but not exclusively, in England and Wales), and through an in-depth knowledge of the existing judicial and academic commentary on these legal rules.
  • By allowing students to develop a critical understanding of the policies and principles that lie at the foundation of private law obligations, and hence of the consequent areas of law that highlight these policies and principles.
  • The teaching will be based on Socratic seminars supported by substantial but targeted reading assignments before each seminar session. The readings are selected from both established doctrinal sources as well as cutting-edge scholarship in the area. The seminars will work from a basic level of doctrinal knowledge and build on that foundation into discussion of more difficult and controversial issues within the sub-discipline. This will encourage students to learn material and develop the ability to discuss it and understand where each aspect of the reading fits in with the relevant debates.
  • The assessment supports the aims of the teaching methods. The assigned essay will assess the extent to which students have developed an overall grasp of the subject matter and issues, and can discuss a challenging problem emerging in the sub-discipline. The essay will assess the ability of the students to not only analyse the subject material, but to perform research in the sub-discipline, and present a structured, articulate argument on the subject.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 15 Week with a few reading weeks 2 30
Reading and Preparation 270
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Essays Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 3000 words 50%
Essay 3000 words 50%

Formative Assessment:

The course will incorporate elements of formative assessment, but the methods of assessment may vary from year to year. They may incorporate: written work, either an essay or problems question or individual presentations.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University