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 None. Location Durham


  • Introduction to English Law and Legal Method (LAW 1121), The Individual and the State (LAW 1081), UK Constitutional Law (LAW 1091), Land Law (LAW 2021) OR, at the discretion of Chair of Board of Studies or delegate, a suitable module or combination of modules from another Department.


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To provide an introduction to the historical development and political context of constitutional and human rights to property in the UK;
  • To provide an introduction to the impact of the Human Rights Act 1998 and the European Convention on Human Rights on property rights. The focus would fall on Article 1 of the First Protocol to the Convention (‘A1P1’), but other Convention rights would be discussed as relevant;
  • To develop skills in making a legal argument based on A1P1 and other Convention rights.


  • Identifying constitutional rights in the UK constitution: parliamentary standards, judicial doctrines, and executive powers;
  • Specific topics, such as: railway boom of 1845; land reform, land tax proposals and the People’s Budget; development of planning laws, to the TCPA 1947; nationalisations in the post-WW2 period, the 1970s, and under Labour’s 2019 manifesto; Conservative proposals on the HRA and their impact on rights to property; examples from comparative law;
  • The drafting of A1P1: why it was controversial and the UK’s position;
  • Sporrong v Sweden, James v UK, and Lithgow v UK, and the rise of proportionality test;
  • The decline of the social democrat theory of property rights - Specific topics, such as: post-conflict restitution; regulation of property (especially environmental and market regulation); minorities and property rights; examples from comparative law.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students should be able to demonstrate a knowledge of:
  • Rights to property under the UK Constitution, including their development and current relevance;
  • The background, structure and interpretation of Convention rights relating to property;
  • Detailed knowledge of specific topics, as outlined above.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students should be able to:
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of the issues relating to constitutional and Convention rights to relating to property;
  • Demonstrate an awareness and understanding of wider political, social and economic context relating to rights to property.
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.

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

  • The teaching of this module will be by way of seminars supported by targeted reading assignments before each session. The readings are selected from both primary and secondary sources. The seminars will work from a basic level of doctrinal knowledge. Building on that foundation, they will then discuss more complicated and practical issues. This will encourage students to learn the material and develop the ability to discuss it and understand how each aspect of the reading fits in with relevant debates;
  • Formative assessment is used both to develop problem-solving skills, the ability to engage in sustained evaluation of ideas and issues in this area, and the ability to evaluate the law in a critical and contextual way;
  • Summative assessment comprises one summative essay of 6000 words, which will provide the means for students to demonstrate that they have acquired the subject knowledge and are able to apply it to a specific topic or question;
  • 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 12 Normally weekly for the first 12 weeks 1 hour 12
Seminars 6 Normally weekly, starting from the third week of Epiphany 2 hours 12
Preparation and reading 176

Summative Assessment

Component: Summative Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Summative essay 6,000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

One presentation in a seminar, with explanatory notes of up to 1,000 words (the notes could comprise a short outline or set of slides of the talk for the audience).

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