The Law of Contract - LAWS6500

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Autumn Term 5 15 (7.5) Alan McKenna checkmark-circle


This module will offer a one-week overview of Contract law doctrine by reviewing the essentials of contract law gained by students in Introduction to Contract and Tort and provide an overview of the lectures to follow.

Thereafter, students will spend the majority of the time on contract doctrine and problem-solving in contract law, comprised of doctrinal topics not covered in LAWS3150 Introduction to Contract and Tort e.g. breach of contract and remedies, contractual terms, misrepresentation, termination and frustration of contracts and policing bargaining behaviour.

The remainder of the module will focus on contract theory (e.g. freedom of contract, relational contract theory, contract and the vulnerable, contract and consumption). This section of the module will overlay the doctrine covered in the previous section with a basic theoretical framework, and ground students' understanding of critical essay writing in contract law. It will also build on discussion of the purposes of contract law in Introduction to Contract and Tort.


Contact hours

Private Study Hours: 121
Total Contact Hours: 29
Total Study Hours: 150


All single and joint honours undergraduate Law courses.

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods

The module will be assessed by 40% coursework and 60% examination according to the following breakdown:

Coursework - Written assessment, (2000 words) - 40%
Examination unseen (2 hours) - 60%

Reassessment methods

The module will be reassessed by like-for-like reassessment of failed individual component(s) of assessment.

Indicative reading

MacDonald, E & R. Atkins, Koffman & Macdonald's Law of Contract (9th ed)(OUP, 2018)
Merkin, R & S. Saintier, Poole's Textbook on Contract Law (15th ed) (OUP, 2021)
Merkin, R & S. Saintier, Poole's Casebook on Contract Law (15th ed) (OUP, 2021)
O'Sullivan, J, O'Sullivan & Hilliards The Law of Contract (9th ed) (OUP, 2020)
Adams, J and Brownsword, R, Understanding Contract Law (5th ed.) (Sweet & Maxwell, 2007)
Mulcahy, L, Contract Law in Perspective (5th ed.) (Routledge-Cavendish, 2008)
Mulcahy, L & Wheeler, S, Feminist Perspectives on Contract Law (Glasshouse, 2005)
Smith, SA, Contract Theory (OUP, 2004)
Smith, SA, Atiyah's Introduction to the Law of Contract (OUP, 2006)
Wightman, J, Contract: A Critical Commentary (Pluto, 1996)

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. Build on 'Introduction to Contract and Tort' and 'Introduction to Property Law' in developing an in-depth understanding of the nature of private law, its sub-divisions and development.
2. Demonstrate a clear understanding of the main types of legal obligation arising from the law of contract and of the principles and rules of this area of law.
3. Use the knowledge of the law gained, and of its contextual and socio-economic underpinnings, to engage with questions of policy, regulation and change.
4. Demonstrate well-developed case reading skills, including an ability to understand and critique the arguments made and which may drive the outcome of a case, as well as policy and other considerations that may affect outcomes of cases.
5. Use cases, including judicial quotation (including from dissenting judgments), to help support (or negate) an argument.
6. Demonstrate a detailed understanding of the use of precedent while understanding the ability of judges to be creative, including an advanced ability to judge the weight of a case (or judgment) and provide critical and contextual comment.
7. Conduct research into complex legal issues to discover the relevant rules and principles, relevant cases (or statutes), secondary or extra-legal sources and to use these to construct sophisticated arguments and legal opinions while recognising areas of uncertainty or contention.

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

1. Use materials to evaluate legal solutions in terms of their consequences and theoretical coherence.
2. Use library and web resources, including journal articles and policy documents, to conduct research on complex areas.
3. Properly present material with correct citation and use of references where appropriate.
4. Show an understanding of the differences in use and value of primary and secondary sources.
5. Distinguish soundly-based knowledge and evidenced claims from unfounded assertions and to use evidence to support their own assertions and arguments.


  1. Credit level 5. Intermediate level module usually taken in Stage 2 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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