Homelessness Law and Policy - LAWS6460

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Spring Term 6 15 (7.5) Vivien Gambling checkmark-circle


This module will provide students with a strong grounding in the technical law relating to homelessness, as well as an understanding of some of the key policy debates which underlie this legal framework. The module opens with discussion of social understandings of home and homelessness, before moving to a detailed assessment of the current framework of England's homelessness law. It will examine statute and case law relating to the duties on local authorities to respond to homelessness, including the definition of homelessness; who is "eligible" for housing; the key concepts of priority need and the meaning of vulnerability; what happens when someone is considered to be “intentionally homeless”; and the impact of a connection to another local authority. The review of the contemporary legal structure closes with discussion of the procedure which homeless applicants will undergo and a review of the law and policy relating to allocation policies. The second part of the module places this legal structure in context by examining the history of homelessness provision and regulation; considering responses to homelessness in other jurisdictions and examining the regulation and perceptions of street homelessness.


Contact hours

Contact hours: 20
Private study hours: 130
Total study Hours: 150


All social sciences undergraduate law programmes.

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods

Legal problem question (2000 words) (50%)
Essay (2500 words) (50%) *

* Students must achieve a mark of 40% in the essay to pass the module overall.

Reassessment methods

Reassessment instrument: 100% coursework

Indicative reading

• Andrew Arden et al., Homelessness and Allocations, 10th Edition (Legal Action Group, 2017)
• David Cowan, Housing Law and Policy (Law in Context), (Cambridge University Press, 2011)
• Jessie Hohmann, The Right to Housing: Law, Concepts, Possibilities, (Hart Publishing, 2013)
• Jan Luba QC, Liz Davies and Connor Johnston, Housing Allocations and Homelessness Law and Practice, 4th Edition, (Jordan Publishing, 2016)
• Peter Marcuse and David Madden, In Defense of Housing: The Politics of Crisis (Verso, 2016)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of the relevant statutory provisions relevant to homelessness.
2. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the policy frameworks underpinning state provision for the homeless including an historical and
comparative understanding.
3. Demonstrate an in-depth understanding of how devolution has impacted upon legal responses to homelessness throughout the UK.
4. Demonstrate a critical understanding of responses to street homelessness and how those responses inform contemporary understandings
of the state.
5. Critically assess claims about the progressive potential of homelessness law and policy and its relationship to broader social policies such
as addressing social exclusion.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. Effectively locate primary and secondary legal and policy sources and to apply them to specific policy and legal issues.
2. Critically evaluate an area of law both doctrinally and in terms of its socio-economic consequences.
3. Recognise potential alternative solutions to particular problems and make a reasoned choice between them.
4. Formulate and sustain a complex argument, supporting it with appropriate evidence.


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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