Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)


Department: Law


Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Not available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham


  • Introduction to English Law and Legal Method (LAW 1121) and Employment Law (LAW 2111) OR as a corequisite


  • Employment Law (LAW 2111) (if not taken as a prerequisite)

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To develop a detailed understanding of specialized aspects of UK and international employment and discrimination law through the study of selected topics. The course is designed to explore and evaluate the most important recent legal developments in the field, to engage with academic and policy debates, and to highlight the main areas of research within the Law School. A central aim is to explore the role of labour market regulation in the light of the key challenges to legal regulation of labour markets, such as the influence of global economic pressures, the growth of precarious and 'non-standard' forms of work and the increasing awareness of the range of grounds of discrimination that operate in the workplace.


  • A selection of topics drawn from the following indicative areas will run in each year:
  • Precarious work (e.g. part-time work, temporary agency work, domestic workers);
  • Conditions of work (working time, wages, work/family);
  • Job security in the modern labour market;
  • Collective labour law (freedom of association, the right to strike, collective bargaining);
  • Discrimination and equality law and theory;
  • Sex discrimination;
  • Racial discrimination;
  • Disability discrimination
  • Religious discrimination;
  • Sexual orientation discrimination;
  • Age discrimination;
  • Labour rights as human rights;
  • The influence of EU and international labour law.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students will be able to:
  • Identify key challenges in the contemporary regulation of the UK labour market;
  • Understand employment and discrimination law in its social, economic and political context;
  • Demonstrate familiarity with the key academic and policy literatures;
  • Describe the various positions in the debates on the contemporary evolution of the field.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will be able to:
  • Critically evaluate significant developments in the field of employment and discrimination law;
  • Conduct research into materials from a variety of doctrinal, academic and policy sources;
  • Analyse how economic, social and cultural factors shape legal approaches to the regulation of employment.
Key Skills:
  • Students will be able to:
  • Critically evaluate legal rules, policies and principles;
  • Engage in critical reading of legal and academic texts;
  • Present complex ideas in writing;
  • Make critical judgements on the merits of a range of arguments.

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

  • The course will be taught as a series of ten two-hour sessions that will combine lectures and seminars. Students will be expected to engage in extensive pre-session reading and preparation. The reading will be selected to enhance students' capacity for evaluative critical analysis and to build an appreciation of law's intersection with broader fields of enquiry. During seminars, students will be encouraged to engage in in-depth discussion and to express and develop their own ideas and perspectives on the seminar topics. During Michaelmas Term, students will have a 10 minute individual consultation with teaching staff to discuss the formative assignment.
  • Assessment will be through two summatively assessed papers. These papers will develop the students' ability to produce a substantial piece of written work that evaluates the law in a critical and contextual manner and engages with the academic debates. The first paper has a formative component and therefore detailed feedback and guidance will be given to students including in an individual student consultation.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures/Seminars 10 Normally: five in each of Michaelmas and Epiphany 2 hr 20
Preparation and reading 180
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: summative essay Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
summative essay 3000 words 100%
Component: summative essay Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
summative essay 5000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Plan for summative Essay 1 of no more than 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