Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2022-2023 (archived)


Department: Law


Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Not available in 2022/23 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • Introduction to English Law and Legal Method (LAW 1121) and Individual and the State (LAW 1081) and UK Constitutional Law (LAW 1091).


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • This module seeks to redress the typical disregard shown to the most important branch of government - the legislature - and the most important form of law - legoslation. It is divided into two parts: the first concerns the workings of the legislature; the second concerns legislation. Thus, the aims of the module are:
  • To gain a critical understanding of the work, roles and functions of the legislature as a separate branch of government
  • To gain a critical understanding of the legislative process and legislation
  • To strengthen students' understanding of statutory interpretation


  • The legislature (amongst other issues: theories of the legislature, legislative governance, bicameralism, select committees, parliamentary privilege and exclusive cognisance)
  • The legislative process (the nature of legislation; policy making; legislative drafting; the parliamentary process)
  • The process of statutory interpretation

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students should be able to:
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of some of the key debates concerning legislatures;
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the key structures, procedures, and internal dynamics of legislatures (with particular reference to the UK Parliament);
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of the legislative processes for both primary and second legislation;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of theories of statutory construction and the main approaches of statutory interpretation.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Analyse and evaluate the particular institutional and constitutional issues that legislatures face;
  • Make a reasoned evaluation of proposed legislation and its effectiveness;
  • Critically discuss the findings of scholarly works on legislation and statutory interpretation;
  • Critically analyse the standards and techniques judges deploy to determine the meaning of statutes and the intention of legislature.
Key Skills:
  • Students should be able to:
  • Demonstrate developed research and writing skills, including the ability to work independently and to take responsibility for their own learning;
  • Develop critical thinking, research, analytical and writing skills, engage in critical reading of legal and academic texts;
  • Make critical judgements on the merits of a range of arguments;
  • Apply different interpretation methods to interpret the existing law and formulate strategic legal arguments.

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

  • The module will be taught through a series of twelve two-hour seminars. The seminar format is intended to encourage pre-session reading and preparation followed by in depth discussion in class. This is intended to allow students to develop an in-depth understanding of a range of topics concerning the legislature and legislation;
  • The formative essay will connect directly to preparing students for the summative essays and assess the same skills needed for the summative essays;
  • Summative assessment comprises two summative essays of 3000 words each. The summative essay tests the ability to focus on relevant issues and organise knowledge and argument appropriate to questions raised.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 12 Normally 7 in Michaelmas, 5 in Epiphany 2 hours 24
Preparation and reading 176

Summative Assessment

Component: Summative Essay Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
summative essay 3,000 words 100%
Component: Summative Essay Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
summative essay 3,000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

One essay of 1,000 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