Public Law 2 - LW592

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2017-18 2018-19
Canterbury Spring
View Timetable
6 15 (7.5) MR GT Sullivan


In order to take this module you must have taken LW588 Public Law 1. Students cannot take this module in the same year as LW588. Co-requisite with LW593 European Union Law. Only available to students following a Law programme of study (either single or joint honours).


Only available to Law students, or students on Politics and Law or Psychology and Law.



The module builds on the understanding of constitutional government developed in Public Law 1 to examine the changing nature of the state in new modes of governance and governmentality. The focus is on the shift away from the vertical character of the relationship between state and citizen to a more diffuse mode of governing populations through expertise, techniques of management, and biopolitics.
In recent times there has been a shift away from states governing through legislation as a mode of command and control. Legislation is increasingly understood as enabling administration and governance rather than as the definitive word on a social or political problem. In some respects, this is a continuation of legislation as a mode of authorising the exercise of public power. However, the nature of power deployed and regulated through legislation has changed. Government through officials or agents directly responsible to Ministers or Parliament is increasingly replaced by quasi-government authorities (QUANGOS) whose strength is technical expertise. While the administrative state as it has evolved in the last century views this shift as a new strength in public administration, the key weakness is that accountability in the exercise of public power is lacking. What are the implications of these transformations for public law? How has public law facilitated these developments? What are the socio-legal and critical legal responses to these developments? These are the central concerns of this module. It thus offers a specialised and complementary extension of themes and issues introduced to students in Public Law 1 in Stage 1 of the LLB degree.
The administrative authorities that have emerged in the era of the ‘new administrative law’ – post 1970s - lack the formality of liberal constitutional protections. Consider the relative informality in the administration of ASBOS. Moreover, the traditional public/private divide has broken down - e.g. the privatisation of prisons, private corporations providing public services such as nursing homes or transport. The absence of social consensus, or unitary sovereign power has meant that the governance of gambling, security, the environment, gender and sexuality, science and technology, are not phenomena that can be dealt with through traditional liberal concepts or constitutional mechanisms. This module will examine how public law has been the site of social, political, and legal contestations regarding these issues.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

20 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars (approximately)


This module is normally recorded and may be downloaded.

Method of assessment

20% coursework consisting of an annotated bibliography (1000 words) worth 20% and a special study essay project (5000 words) worth 80%)

Preliminary 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)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

to identify contemporary problems in public law through the application of concepts such as governance, regulation, risk, state and sovereignty.
to appreciate that a range of contemporary economic and political developments and demands such as globalisation, cheaper justice, informal justice, transformative justice, quasi-judicial tribunals have transformed the ambit of public law.
to appreciate that a vast amount of public power is exercised without direct legislative authorisation or judicial scrutiny, and thus consider strategies for strengthening accountability.
to appreciate the role of non-governmental organisations in mobilising and channelling public concerns.
to appreciate 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.
to appreciate that the traditional distinction between politics and science has undergone significant changes recently, and that public law must absorb and respond to these challenges - eg. calls for public regulation of genetic technologies, testing of GM Crops.
read, understand and apply legislation and to read and understand complex cases and secondary commentary.
research and identify policy and legal debates – and appreciate different perspectives. And to Convert policy debates into conceptual analyses: Connect social and political policy alternatives to the conceptual framework introduced in the module – e.g. ‘genomics’ as a breakdown of the politics/science divide; Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOS) as a collapse of the policing/administration divide; proliferating security measures as a collapse in the sovereign/police power divide.
have the conceptual tools necessary to navigate the changing landscape of regulatory and accountability mechanisms
understand and deploy the literature in law and governance in the examination of issues in public law.

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