Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2014-2015 (archived)

Module LAW53730: Advanced Law of Obligations

Department: Law

LAW53730: Advanced Law of Obligations

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Not available in 2014/15 Module Cap
Tied to


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • The aim of this module is give graduate students the opportunity to study a subject, unjust enrichment, which because of its difficulty, is not usually taught at undergraduate level


  • The introduction of the module, which is of crucial importance, to an understanding of the modern law, seeks to explore the place of unjust enrichment from a historical perspective. The core of the module which follows focuses on the four questions that need to be answered in order to establish a claim:
  • 1. has the defendant been benefited (i.e. enriched)?
  • 2. was the enrichment at the claimant’s expense?
  • 3. was the enrichment unjust?
  • 4. are there any defences?
  • The second part of the module will continue with the core questions and proceed to consider the relationship between unjust enrichment and other legal categories such as contract. The module will conclude with a discussion of some of the critics of unjust enrichment

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students will be able to demonstrate a detailed knowledge of unjust enrichment, and the way in which it fits within the overall scheme of the law of obligations.
  • 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 demonstrate the ability to analyse and evaluate the law in relation to unjust enrichment.
  • be able to discuss different models of unjust enrichment from a theoretical, historical and critical perspective
Key Skills:
  • be able to demonstrate the ability to research and communicate effectively orally and in writing on aspects of unjust enrichment;
  • to use appropriate web-based materials for conducting research;
  • to analyse and explain complex material;
  • to do all of the above independently

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

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

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