Advanced Topics in Property Law: the politics of ownership - LW609

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2017-18 2018-19
Canterbury Autumn and Spring
View Timetable
6 30 (15) PROF HP Carr


LW316/LW416 or LW324 Foundations of Property and LW599 Land Law.





This module, building on Foundations of Property, explores the nature of property as a legal institution and its economic, political and cultural importance in a variety of contexts. It seeks to question the common sense understandings of property as privately owned 'things', in relation to which the role of law is essentially passive and protective. This course will bridge the too often repeated divide in law school curricula between forms of real property (land law) and intellectual property, exploring theoretical approaches alongside concrete examples drawn from both of these fields, and thereby asking what and why holds such different fabrications together (and apart) under the rubric of 'property'. We will look at intangible forms of property, such as intellectual property (eg patents, copyright) and financial property (eg stocks, shares, government bonds), and will explore the active, constructive and political role of law in constituting property and property rights. One of the module's themes will be the complex relationship between property and power. During the course of the module, in a series of case studies, a wide range of different topics in which issues of property and property rights are central will be examined: from issues surrounding corporate rights and power to land rights (especially in the colonial context); from the construction and protection of intellectual property rights to those surrounding housing and access to housing. The module will also explore the cultural dimension of property, and examine the role played by property practices and thinking in the recent financial crisis, and the potential to think and practice property differently under the rubric of 'alternative property practices'(eg in commons, land trusts, mutuals, co-operatives etc).


This module appears in:

Contact hours

40 hours of combined lecture and seminar.

Method of assessment

100% coursework consisting of a research paper of 6000 words for 75% and an oral presentation for 25%.

Preliminary reading

Preliminary Viewing - La Terre Parle Arabe, 2007, Dir M. Gargour.
Preliminary Viewing - The Truman Show, 1998, Dir P Wier.
Preliminary Viewing – Holy Motors, 2012, Dir L Carax.
J Brewer and S Staves (eds), Early Modern Conceptions of Property, 1996, London: Routledge.
R McQueen, A Social History of Company Law, 2009, London: Ashgate.
M Callon (ed), Laws of the Market, 1998, Oxford: Blackwells.
N Blomley, Unsettling the City, 2004, London: Taylor and Francis.
M Davies, Property: Meanings, Histories, Theories, 2007, London: Glasshouse.
C Dickens, Bleak House (1854)
H Lim and A Bottomley (eds), Feminist Perspectives on Land Law, 2007, London: Glasshouse.
C Rose ,Property and Persuasion: Essays on the History, Theory and Rhetoric of Ownership, 1994, Bolder, California: Westview Press.
T Murphy et al ,Understanding Property Law, 2004, London: Sweet and Maxwell.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

Articulate orally a sound theoretical and practical understanding of key legal-political debates and issues.
Upon completing this module, students will be able to:
gain a deeper understanding of property and law through the examination of historical and contemporary forms of ownership, and a range of theoretical understandings as to what constitutes ‘ownership’ as a foundational components carried within the idea of 'property'.
to analize property as a juridical relation and institution, which can be contested, challenged, and remade.
to recognize potential alternative solutions to particular problems, and make a reasoned choice between them.

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