Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2022-2023 (archived)


Department: Law


Type Open Level 3 Credits 10 Availability Available in 2022/23 Module Cap Location Durham


  • Introduction to English Law and Legal Method (LAW 1121).


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To introduce students to basic concepts in economics applicable to law.
  • To build on foundations laid in mandatory Law modules, with a shift towards the economic analysis of law.
  • To introduce students to the fundamental insights of law and economics and how these insights can aid lawyers and policy makers in understanding the law.
  • To introduce students to the basic concepts and techniques in the established body of literature on law and economics.
  • To teach students how to use economic concepts to analyze core categories of the law.
  • To introduce students to select advances in law and behavioural economics.


  • The economic analysis of law is an important field of study for law students, offering them a powerful set of tools to develop a thorough understanding of the law. In the field of law and economics, rational choice theory has traditionally dominated as the means to predict human behavior and the incentive effects of legal rules. In recent years, researchers in economics and psychology have begun to show that people deviate from the predictions of rational choice theory.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Demonstrate knowledge of basic economic concepts in widespread use in the economic analysis of law.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the differences between rational choice theory and behavioural economics as these approaches are applied to law.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the basic law and economics literature and the history of the field.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Apply basic economic concepts to various core legal doctrines.
  • Explain the key differences in approaches of economic analysis of law from traditional legal analysis.
  • Articulate and use the core concepts of rational choice theory and behavioural economics in examining the law.
  • Explain the limitations of economic analysis as a way of understanding law.
Key Skills:
  • Demonstrate the skill of communicating complex ideas and arguments in clear written form.
  • Demonstrate the skill of analysing the effects of rules.
  • Show the skill of distinguishing between different disciplinary forms of analysis.
  • Show the skill of formulating complex policy arguments.

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

  • The core principles of the subject will be conveyed by seminars. Additional reading will be set to ensure that more complex aspects of the principles are investigated. Formative essays will be used to develop both subject-skills and communication skills. Formative essays will connect directly to preparing students for the summative essay and assess the same skills needed for the summative essay.
  • Summative assessment comprises one summative essay of 3000 words. Students are given a choice of questions to write their summative essays, but the questions are structured in such a way as to assess students on all the specific outcomes. The summative essay tests the ability to focus on relevant issues and organise knowledge and argument appropriate to questions raised. The summative essay questions will provide the means for students to demonstrate the acquisition of subject knowledge and the development of their analytical skills.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 12 Weekly or fortnightly 1 hour 12
Preparation and reading 88

Summative Assessment

Component: Summative Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
summative essay 3000 words 100% yes

Formative Assessment:

1 written essay of about 1500 words.

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