The Law of Succession - LAWS6620

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2021 to 2022
Spring Term 6 15 (7.5) Nick Piska checkmark-circle


The law of succession (also known as inheritance) is a core area of legal and socio-economic practice enabling, and sometimes mandating, the transfer of wealth from one generation to another. Common law jurisdictions, such as England, Australia and America, are often described as upholding the principle of 'freedom of testation'. This course provides a critical introduction to the law of succession, in particular the nature of wills, will formation, and the administration of estates; it will assess the problem of intestacy (dying without a will); it will critically evaluate the principle of ‘freedom of testation’ with regard the limitations placed on freedom of testation and through comparative analysis with other jurisdictions.


Contact hours

Contact hours are:-
Contact hours: 20
Private study hours: 130
total Study hours:- 150

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:-
Coursework- In-class assessment (30 minutes. Multiple choice questions) – 20%
Coursework - Short essay (2,500 words) – 80%

Students must attain a pass mark in the essay in order to pass the module overall.

Reassessment method:

Indicative reading

L.M. Friedman, Dead Hands: A Social History of Wills, Trusts, and Inheritance Law (Stanford University Press, 2009)
B. Hacker and C.Mitchell (eds.), Current Issues in Succession Law (Hart Publishing, 2016)
R. Hedlund, The Law of Succession (Hall and Stott Publishing, 2019)
B. Sloan, Borkowski's Law of Succession (4th ed., Oxford University Press, 2020)
B. Sloan (ed.), Landmark Cases in Succession Law (Hart Publishing, 2019

Learning outcomes

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

1. demonstrate a detailed knowledge and understanding of the concepts, doctrines and principles associated with the law of succession, in particular the law of wills and intestacy;
2. demonstrate a critical awareness of, and sensitivity to, the political, economic and/or social implications that arise from different succession practices across international jurisdictions;
3. critically identify the theoretical and policy underpinnings of the law of succession;
4. critically evaluate succession law: to take nothing at face value, to go beneath the surface of the law to critically analyse and evaluate it.

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

1. critically evaluate an area of law both doctrinally and in terms of its socio-economic consequences;
2. undertake a detailed examination of the merits of competing issues and interests and make a reasoned choice between them;
3. apply further research from a variety of sources informing a sustained and detailed argument;
4. demonstrate an independence of mind and an ability to critically challenge received understandings and conclusion


  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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