Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2022-2023 (archived)

Module LAW3511: TAX LAW

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 (LAW1121).


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • Revenue Law


  • Tax is an important part of the business environment in which lawyers work. Revenue law is a subject that touches on every aspect of the law on which a lawyer might advise, including contract law, tort law, family law, company law, labour and employment law and criminal law. It is a gateway to understanding the choice of investment and business vehicles, the structure of trusts, the form of legal contracts, tort settlements, family dissolution agreements and the design of commercial arrangements. The aim of this module is to introduce students to the key policy and legal issues, as well as contemporary developments, in the UK tax system. Topics include personal income tax, corporation tax, capital gains tax, inheritance tax and tax avoidance and anti-avoidance rules.
  • The module will give students the opportunity to engage in current policy debates and equip them with the ability to analyse legislation and case law to solve complex tax problems in practice.
  • The module will provide students with a better understanding of how law actually operates in a complex economy and enhance their studies in other areas of law.
  • The module will prepare students for a career in a wide range of global employment destinations, including but not limited to the legal profession, legal practice in accountancy, house company counsel and government agencies.


  • The module will feature legal and policy issues in UK taxation. The syllabus will cover the following topics:
  • Principles of taxation: purpose of tax; functions of government expenditures; key elements of a tax system; main types of taxes; tax design criteria
  • Taxing income: schedular and global systems
  • 1. Personal income tax: rate schedule and the tax unit; employment income; business income; deductions for expenses; tax expenditures; capital allowances
  • 2. Corporation tax: imputation and classical systems; debt and equity; income and losses; distributions; international aspects
  • 3. Capital gains tax: gains and losses; exemptions and reliefs
  • Taxation wealth: net wealth tax and wealth transfer taxes
  • 1. Inheritance tax: gift and testamentary transfers of wealth
  • Tax avoidance and anti-avoidance rules: judicial doctrines and legislative approaches (targeted anti-avoidance rules and general anti-abuse rules)

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students should be able to:
  • Demonstrate detailed knowledge of basic principles, core policy issues and the complex body of rules and case law in the field of UK taxation
  • Understand the key challenges of the design of tax law and policy in the UK's specific social, economic and political contexts
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students should be able to:
  • Critically comment or critique on currently debated tax issues and related arguments in the academic literature
  • Demonstrate ability to evaluate government policy in light of alternative benchmarks and how effectively legislation has achieved the policy intention of the government
  • Demonstrate ability to evaluate whether judicial interpretation is consistent with the policy intent of the law
  • Demonstrate ability to apply legislation and case law to solve tax problems in complex factual situations
Key Skills:
  • Students should be able to:
  • Demonstrate sophisticated research, analytical and writing skills and ability to think critically
  • Manage time efficiently and work independently within a limited time frame to complete a specified task

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

  • Lectures are primary teaching sessions that impart knowledge.
  • Tutorials are used to clear up confusion, reinforce understanding and show how the information is used to solve actual legal problems.
  • Formative assignments are used to develop problem-solving skills, research skills and the ability to evaluate legislation and judicial interpretation against the policy intent of the law.
  • Summative assessment comprises one unseen examination. The examination tests the ability to focus on relevant legal issues and organise knowledge and arguments appropriate to the questions raised. The examination questions will provide the means for students to demonstrate the acquisition of subject knowledge and the development of their problem-solving skills.
  • Students will be supported and encouraged in the development of their research and writing skills.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 20 Weekly 1 hour 20
Tutorials 4 Normally: two in each of Michaelmas and Epiphany 1 hour 4
Preparation and reading 176

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
written examination 2 hours 100%

Formative Assessment:

One 2,000 word essay.

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