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LA129-30 Law, State and the Individual

School of Law
Undergraduate Level 1
Module leader
Daniel Matthews
Credit value
Module duration
20 weeks
100% coursework
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description

This foundational module aims to offer students an introduction to the relationship between Law, State and Individual. It explores some of the basic conceptual underpinnings of this relationship (legal, political and philosophical) as well as situating key texts and theories within multiple institutional and clinical contexts.

Module aims

In giving attention to related sources of law (like Acts of Parliament, common law rules, conventions) and foundational concepts (like the legislative supremacy of Parliament, the rule of law and separation of powers), the module aims to emphasise critical reading and understanding of academic material and legal texts (cases and statutes), and also the dynamic extra-legal dimension of politics and economics that give rise to legal contestation in the first place.
The module further aims to familiarise the student with the purposes, limits and possibilities of legal language and methods and thereby approach essay writing and real-world problem solving with greater autonomy and self-confidence.
The module will also provide a critical overview of the institutional and theoretical aspects of the law, alongside a deeper appreciation of its relationship to state and individuals. Student understanding of subject areas will be developed through a mixture of participatory and problem based exercises, workshops, and more orthodox lecture and seminar work. Students will thereby be able to develop and test their theories, knowledge and practical legal skills.

Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

Indicative topics to be covered in the problems set and various lectures are:

  1. The nature of public law (including versus private law and international law) and the principles underpinning it
  2. The nature of democracy (as opposed to other regimes) and the potential for protest or opposition to power exercised by democratic government
  3. The relationship between public law, economics and politics
  4. Constitutionalism and the sources of the British Constitution with consideration of its historical and colonial contexts
  5. The fundamental theoretical concepts that underlie public law (and, in turn, the relationship between the individual and the state), including the rule of law, accountability, the separation of powers, and in the UK, parliamentary sovereignty
  6. Multi-layered government (the EU, devolution and local government)
  7. The protection of human rights (including the Human Rights Act 1998)
  8. Introduction to judicial review, including the grounds for such review, as a legalised remedy for the abuse of power
  9. Introduction to administrative justice (tribunals, inquiries, ombudsmen)

The topics will complement those included in Understanding Law in Context

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate a basic knowledge and critical understanding of public law (administrative and constitutional), and its pivotal role in the relationship between individual and state
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of key institutions, procedures and sources of public law (distinguishing it from private and international law)
  • Demonstrate understanding of basic concepts, values and principles associated with constitutional and administrative law, and an ability to identify these in multiple contexts outside more orthodox court or legal settings
  • Show knowledge and understanding constitutional and administrative law as a dynamic area entailing continuous contestation and development
  • Think systematically about the wider relationship and reciprocal influences between law, politics and society with particular emphasis upon law, state and individual
  • Independently relate contemporary events or new problem based situations and cases to themes addressed in the module
Indicative reading list

To be determined closer to the date of delivery (i.e. not before October 2021)

Research element

Conduct research into problems and legal cases both individually and as part of a small group


Students will need to explore political and philosophical texts and apply to the notion of public law as a constitutional foundation.


The influence and impact of international law, institutions and practices in UK public law will be addressed as elements of the problem and case based scenarios included in the module.

Subject specific skills

Written and oral presentation skills in relation to public law
Legal research
Legal writing

Transferable skills

Written and oral presentation skills
Critical analysis
General research
Collaborative working and team work
Oral presentation
Writing in various genres

Study time

Type Required
Lectures 8 sessions of 1 hour (3%)
Seminars 36 sessions of 1 hour (12%)
Private study 214 hours (71%)
Assessment 42 hours (14%)
Total 300 hours
Private study description

Individual and group preparation for problem and case based learning in seminars.


No further costs have been identified for this module.

You do not need to pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Assessment group A2
Weighting Study time
Group poster presentation on Devolution or Brexit 20% 9 hours

Working in groups students will design and produce a research poster on one of the issues introduced in the seminars in weeks 7-10, term 1. Posters will be presented with a Q&A in week 10.

Individual reflection on the group poster presentation 15% 8 hours

Students will reflect on the work they completed for their group poster presentation. Students will have the opportunity to expand and/or critique the argument developed in the group project and reflect on the work they completed for this project.

Case note - judicial review 25% 11 hours

Students will write a case note that summarises and evaluates a case related to material covered in week 1-6, term 2).

Final coursework essay 40% 14 hours

Students will submit a final coursework essay.

Feedback on assessment

Feedforward will be provided throughout term 1 as seminar tutors comment on and guide the group projects. Written feedback will be provided on all assessment components. A formative assessment will be set in term 2.

Post-requisite modules

If you pass this module, you can take:

  • LA3B6-15 Cinematic Explorations of Public Law
  • LA3B5-15 Judicial review and administrative justice


This module is Core for:

  • Year 1 of ULAA-ML34 BA in Law and Sociology (Qualifying Degree)
  • Year 1 of ULAA-M130 Undergraduate Law
  • ULAA-M105 Undergraduate Law (3 year) (Qualifying Degree)
    • Year 1 of M105 Law (3 year) (Qualifying Degree)
    • Year 1 of M105 Law (3 year) (Qualifying Degree)
  • Year 1 of ULAA-M131 Undergraduate Law (4 Year)
  • Year 1 of ULAA-M106 Undergraduate Law (4 year) (Qualifying Degree)
  • Year 1 of ULAA-M132 Undergraduate Law (Year Abroad)
  • ULAA-M108 Undergraduate Law (Year Abroad) (Qualifying Degree)
    • Year 1 of M108 Law (Year Abroad) (Qualifying Degree)
    • Year 1 of M108 Law (Year Abroad) (Qualifying Degree)
  • Year 1 of ULAA-M135 Undergraduate Law and Sociology
  • Year 1 of ULAA-M133 Undergraduate Law with French Law
  • Year 1 of ULAA-M10A Undergraduate Law with French Law (Qualifying Degree)
  • Year 1 of ULAA-M134 Undergraduate Law with German Law
  • Year 1 of ULAA-M10C Undergraduate Law with German Law (Qualifying Degree)
  • Year 1 of ULAA-M136 Undergraduate Law with Humanities (3 Year)
  • Year 1 of ULAA-M111 Undergraduate Law with Humanities (3 Year) (Qualifying Degree)
  • Year 1 of ULAA-M113 Undergraduate Law with Humanities (4 Year) (Qualifying Degree)

This module is Core option list D for:

  • UPHA-V7MW Undergraduate Politics, Philosophy and Law
    • Year 2 of V7MW Politics, Philosophy and Law
    • Year 2 of V7MW Politics, Philosophy and Law