Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2012-2013 (archived)

Module LAW40530: Current Issues in Commercial Law

Department: Law

LAW40530: Current Issues in Commercial Law

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2012/13 Module Cap
Tied to M1K116
Tied to M1K316
Tied to M1K216
Tied to M1K416
Tied to M1K516


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • The aim of this module is to provide postgraduate students with the opportunity to investigate developments in commercial law and practice that do not necessarily fall within the taught syllabus. It does so by considering the nature, scope and functioning of the commercial law by an examination of current problems in national and international trade and commercial practice. Over the course of the year, several developing areas of commercial practice will be examined in some depth to identify the major legal questions they raise, and to explore the commercial background in which they arise. The areas considered are likely to change from year to year but, as examples, students might consider, amongst other issues, the impact of new technologies on commercial law and practice (such as e-commerce and electronic shipping documents), changing trends in secured financing, new international existing treaties governing private commercial relations and new interpretations of important existing treaties. The class discussions will examine the doctrinal issues that arise in these areas, as well as more general and theoretical aspects of the development and place of private commercial law.


  • Current legal issues arising in the commercial world, whether at the national regional, or international level. Specific topics will vary from year to year, but are likely to include one or more of the following: commercial conflicts of law; insolvency law (incl. cross-border insolvency); secured credit and finance law; negotiable instruments; commercial agency; capital markets; sales of goods; transnational commercial contracts; arbitration (national or international); sources and theory of commercial law; unification of commercial law; competition law; intellectual property law.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Be able to demonstrate a detailed knowledge of selected areas of commercial law, and the theoretical, comparative, economic or practical context to which they relate.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Be able to demonstrate the ability to analyse and evaluate the rules of law relating to selected areas of commercial law, and the ability to analyse these rules in their context.
Key Skills:
  • be able to demonstrate the ability to research and write a commentary on a specific issues or aspects of selected areas of commercial law;
  • to use appropriate web-based materials for conducting research;
  • to analyse and explain complex material written in technical language;
  • to do the foregoing independently.

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

  • Seminar teaching will enable the teaching staff to communicate material and ensure that the appropriate level of subject knowledge and skills are being attained, and that problems with key skills can be addressed where necessary.
  • The assessment in the form of the 4000-word essay enables students to demonstrate the subject knowledge, subject skills and key skills in relation to a narrow topic of law.
  • The unseen examination enables students to demonstrate that they have obtained a sound overview of the topics covered in the course of the year.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 20 Weekly 1.5 30
Preparation and reading 270
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
essay 6000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:


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