Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)


Department: Law


Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham


  • Introduction to English Law and Legal Method (LAW 1121) and EU Constitutional Law (LAW 1061) and The Individual and the State (LAW 1081) and UK Constitutional Law (LAW 1091).


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To develop an understanding of specialized aspects of public law, including UK and comparative constitutional law, constitutional theory, human rights and/or administrative law, encompassing advanced doctrinal, theoretical, and/or socio-legal materials and concepts, representing some of the main research areas in public law in the Law School and aiming in particular to enhance the student’s experience of research-led teaching.


  • The course will consist of six topics in public law. A selection of topics in the following indicative areas will run in each particular year:
  • Constitutional Theory
  • Comparative Constitutional Law
  • Constitutional Change and Constitutional Reform
  • Institutions and Institutional Design
  • Frameworks for the Protection of Fundamental Rights
  • Discrimination and Equality Law and Theory
  • Substantive Topics in Human Rights Law (for instance, privacy, public protest, prevention of terrorism, etc)
  • Devolution and the Territorial Constitution
  • Advanced Issues in Judicial Review
  • Administrative Justice

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students will have:
  • A thorough knowledge of the intellectual topography of selected issues in public law.
  • A demonstrably in-depth knowledge of certain key issues.
  • A familiarity with the secondary literature and debates surrounding key issues.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students should be able to:
  • interpret and critically evaluate relevant international treaty provisions, domestic law, general principles and theoretical approaches;
  • identify key reasoning tools employed by international and constitutional courts in resolving public law issues and be capable of applying these to new situations and legal provisions;
  • appreciate how political, cultural, social and historical factors affect legal approaches to key public law problems
Key Skills:
  • Students should be able to:
  • demonstrate an ability to understand and critically analyse a wide variety of complex issues, drawing on comparative and theoretical materials;
  • develop expertise in conducting research into materials from a variety of national and international sources;
  • describe accurately and comprehensibly the arguments and analysis of other commentators
  • write in a clear and structured way and to put forward ideas in a scholarly manner
  • demonstrate an ability to explore complex issues creatively in writing.

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

  • The course 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. Two seminars will be devoted to each of six topics. This is intended to allow students to develop an in-depth understanding of a range of topics in public law. However, cross-cutting themes will be brought out by the teaching team.
  • The assessment will be through a summatively assessed essay, with a formatively assessed essay on a closely-related topic, followed by an unseen exam at the end of the year. Students will be required to answer two questions in the exam. The essays and exam will ensure that students have attained the required substantive knowledge and analytical skills. The formative and summative essays will ensure that students have met the research, analysis, and communication objectives.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 12 Six per term 2hrs 24
Preparation and reading 176

Summative Assessment

Component: Summative Essay Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Summative essay 4000 words 100% yes
Component: Examination Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written examination 2 hours 100% yes

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