Public Law 2 - LAWS5920

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Module delivery information

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


Over the course of the late twentieth century the modern state was transformed in far-reaching ways. The deregulation and privatisation of national economies, the rise of risk governance, the proliferation of administrative agencies and the increasing the involvement of experts in public policy have all profoundly affected the practice of government. At the same time, states responded to global problems cutting across national boundaries (eg, in finance, security and the environment) by governing through transnational networks and global institutions far removed from conventional mechanisms of democratic and legal accountability. These changes have dramatically transformed the landscape of public law - broadly defined as 'the practices that sustain and regulate the activity of governing'.

This module helps students to navigate this shifting constitutional terrain and grapple with the key legal and political challenges it poses. In Public Law 1 students learned about the core principles of constitutional and administrative law, exploring issues like parliamentary sovereignty, the separation of powers, judicial review, human rights and devolution. In the Law of the European Union students were introduced to the principle of multi-level governance through which the modern state operates. Public Law 2 builds on these insights by analysing the complexity of contemporary governance in detail. The aim is to have students think critically about (i) the changing nature of the state, global governance and regulation; (ii) how globalisation is changing the ways public law problems are governed; (iii) the key challenges these shifts pose for the protection of rights and (iv) the different techniques and processes for holding states and powerful actors to account.


Contact hours

Total study hours: 150 hours
Contact hours: 21 hours
Private study: 129 hours


All single and joint honours undergraduate law programmes.

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods

This module will be assessed by 20% coursework and 80% project.

Short Research Assignment – 1000 words – 20%
Special Study research project – 3000 words – 80%

Reassessment methods

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

Indicative reading

• Kevin Davis, Angelina Fisher, Benedict Kingsbury and Sally Engle Merry (2012), Governance by indicators - Global Power through
Quantification and Rankings (Oxford University Press)
• Emilios Christodoulidis and Stephen Tierney (2008), Public Law and Politics: The Scope and Limits of Constitutionalism (Ashgate)
• Mitchell Dean (1999), Governmentality : Power and Rule in Modern Society (Sage)
• Nico Krisch (2012), Beyond Constitutionalism: The Pluralist Structure of Postnational Law (Oxford University Press)
• Martin Loughlin (2004), The Idea of Public Law (Oxford University Press)
• Peter Miller and Nikolas Rose (2008), Governing the Present: Administering Economic, Social and Personal Life (Wiley)
• Dawn Oliver, Tony Prosser and Richard Rawlings (eds.) The Regulatory State - Constitutional Implications (Oxford University Press)
• Saskia Sassen, Territory, Authority, Rights - From Medieval to Global Assemblages (Princeton University Press)
• Anne-Marie Slaughter (2005), A New World Order (Princeton University Press)

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. Identify complex contemporary problems in public law through the application of concepts such as governance, regulation, risk, state,
sovereignty and globalisation.
2. Appreciate, in detail, that contemporary economic and political developments have transformed the ambit of public law and the
technologies and practices of governance.
3. Appreciate, in detail, that a vast amount of public power is exercised without direct legislative authorisation or judicial scrutiny, and thus
consider strategies for strengthening accountability.
4. Appreciate, in detail, that the distinction between public and private power has broken down, and that the field of constitutional and
administrative law (public law) needs to respond to the ensuing challenges.
5. Demonstrate the conceptual tools necessary to navigate the changing landscape of public law.

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

1. Conduct independent research which informs a sustained and complex argument.
2. Appreciate that legal problems can only be fully understood through interdisciplinary research.
3. Use electronic databases for research.
4. Demonstrate advanced research skills in law and related disciplines.
5. Explore critically and in-depth a particular topic with the help of theoretical tools.


  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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