Public Law 2 - LW592

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
Canterbury Spring
View Timetable
6 15 (7.5) DR G Sullivan


LW588/614 Public Law 1. This is also a co-requisite with LW593.


Only available to Law students, including Joint Honours.



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 (LW588) 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 (LW593) 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.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

14 hours of lectures and 7 hours of seminars.


This module is normally recorded and may be downloaded.

Method of assessment

Coursework consisting of an annotated bibliography worth 20% and a special study essay project worth 80%.

Indicative reading

J Butler Precarious Life: The Power of Mourning and Violence (Verso, 2005)
M Dean Governmentality : Power and Rule in Modern Society (SAGE, 1999)
N Rose ''The Death of the Social'', the journal Economy and Society (2006)
E Christodoulidis and S Tierney Public Law and Politics: The Scope and Limits of Constitutionalism (Ashgate, 2008)
S Franklin Dolly Mixtures: The Remaking of Genealogy (Duke University Press, 2007)
E Jackson Regulating Reproduction: Law, Technology, and Autonomy (Hart, 2001)
M Laughlin The Idea of Public Law (OUP, 2004)
P Miller and N Rose Governing the Present: Administering Economic, Social and Personal Life (Polity, 2008)
N Rose The Politics of Life Itself: Biomedicine, Power, and Subjectivity in the Twenty-First Century (PUP, 2006)
R Kaushik Sunder Biocapital: The Constitution of Post-genomic Life (Duke University Press, 2006)
K Horsey and H Biggs (eds) Human Fertilisation and Embryology: Reproducing Regulation (Routledge Cavendish, 2006)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

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.

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