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2010/1 Module Catalogue
 Module Code: LAWM059 Module Title: PROPERTY LAW 1
Module Provider: School of Law Short Name: LAWM059
Level: M Module Co-ordinator: MALCOLM RN Prof (Schl of Law)
Number of credits: 30 Number of ECTS credits: 15
Module Availability
Assessment Pattern

Components of Assessment


Percentage weighting (%)


A 3,000 word researched essay on a set topic.


Three-hour examination

The examination will cover not only those areas dealt with in lectures and seminars but also those included in general and guided reading.


Module Overview
Module Aims

This module introduces the principles of equity and the development of the law and theory of real property. The primary objectives of the module are to develop an understanding of the underlying principles and rules relating to land law and trusts.

Learning Outcomes

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

  • Demonstrate a systematic understanding of the nature and operation of the law of real property in context; 
  • Demonstrate understanding of the historical, social, economic and political influences on the development of Land Law and the application of human rights;
  • Demonstrate understanding of the distinction between real and personal property;
  • Demonstrate understanding of the distinction between estates and interests;
  • Demonstrate understanding of the distinction between legal and equitable rights and remedies in relation to land;
  • Demonstrate understanding of the nature of the trust;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between the conceptual frameworks that underpin land law and the resulting statute and case law;
  • Be able to demonstrate their ability to critically analyse the substance, structures and application of land law;
  • Have undertaken an appropriate degree of sustained and systematic research that identifies concerns arising from a number of topics, or line of enquiries in relation to land law and have developed the skills necessary to carry out independent research, using a variety of sources (e.g. case-law, statutes, newspapers, journals and electronic information sources);
  • Be able to apply this knowledge to practical problems and demonstrate development of problem solving skills;
  • Demonstrate a critical awareness of how real property law compares with that of other jurisdiction;
  • Apply acquired knowledge to complex problems, demonstrating both self-direction and originality in tackling and solving such problems and a critical awareness of current issues and new insights in contract law; 
  • Deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data and communicate conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences;
  • Demonstrate a conceptual understanding that enables the student to evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in property law.
Module Content

TOPIC 1 Introduction to ideas of property and law 

TOPIC 2 Justifications for property 
2.1 Economic justifications and the tragedy of the commons 
2.2 Locke’s justification for private property 

TOPIC 3 Allocation of property rights 
3.1 First occupancy 
3.2 Property in new things 
3.3 Capture 
3.4 Colonisation and property rights 

TOPIC 4 Personal and proprietary rights 

TOPIC 5 Ownership 
5.1 What do we mean by ownership?  Honore’s classification 
5.2 Limitations on ownership: reconciling incompatible uses 
5.3 Public and private regulation of land use

TOPIC 6 Fragmentation of ownership 
6.1 Present and future interests 
6.2 Legal and equitable interests 
6.3 Fragmentation of management, control and benefit: trusts and companies 
6.4 Co-ownership 

TOPIC 7 Recognition of new property interests 

TOPIC 8 Particular use rights

TOPIC 9 Possession
9.1           What constitutes possession? 
9.2           Possession and occupation: the distinction between leases and licences 

TOPIC 10 Title
10.1         General principles 
10.2         Acquiring title to land by adverse possession 
10.3         Acquiring title to goods by taking possession 

TOPIC 11 Possessory interests 
11.1         Leases  
11.2         Compare leases and bailment 

TOPIC 12 Transfer of title and enforceability of interests 
12.1         Transfer of title by sale, gift or inheritance 
12.2         Enforceability and priority of legal and equitable interests 

TOPIC 13 Rights and obligations arising from conduct
13.1         Resulting trusts arising from contribution 
13.2         Resulting trust and common intention constructive trust: the contribution cases 

TOPIC 14 Interests under a trust 
14.1         Creating an express trust 
14.2         Certainty of beneficiaries 
14.3         Trusts for purposes 
14.4         Trust interests, beneficial interests and equitable interests 

TOPIC 15 Frustrated purposes and resulting trusts 


In the seminars students will engage with topics of current interest in property law and in doing so explore the practical application of concepts discussed in lectures. Students will be asked to research current issues intensively and prepare presentations on set topics. They should also be prepared to answer questions raised by other students. Problems arising from practical situations will also be discussed and remedies should be suggested and critically analysed by students.

Methods of Teaching/Learning

Run once, throughout the year 
2½ hours per week (1 two-hour lecture weekly and a seminar fortnightly) 

The method of teaching is by lectures and seminars.   The lectures will introduce the students to the subject areas and provide an overview to enable students to understand the basic principles and underlying concepts.   The seminars will delve deeper into the complexities of the subject and consider key principles and theories. Students will be provided with preliminary reading references but will be expected to undertake additional independent research into the subject.   During seminars students will be expected to demonstrate their ability to apply that research to discuss given legal problems, to demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and proposing solutions to such problems, and to evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in relevant areas. Each student will be given at least one opportunity during the year to prepare and deliver a presentation on a set topic during a seminar session, and to respond to questions raised by other seminar participants on the topic. This presentation will be formatively assessed by the seminar leader and feedback given to the student on his/her performance.

Selected Texts/Journals

Expected purchase: 

Clarke & Kohler Property Law Commentary and Materials ( Cambridge , 2005)
Moffat,  Trusts Law: Text and Materials (4th ed. 2005, Cambridge University Press) 

Reference books: 

Lawson and Rudden Law of Property 3rd ed, 2002 Clarendon – a good short over-all view of most of the topics covered in this part of the course 
Cooke, Land Law  (Clarendon, OUP 2005) 
Worthington , Equity  (Clarendon, OUP, 2nd ed. 2005) a good short introduction on some of the topics covered in detail in Moffat   
Hudson , Understanding Trusts and Equity (2001), Cavendish 
Anderson and McChesney, Property Rights: Co-operation, Conflict and the Law  (2003) Princeton – essays in the law and economics tradition covering several topics, especially in Term 1 
Cooter and Ulen Law and Economics (Scott, Foresman and Company) esp Ch 1 (An Introduction to Law and Economics); Ch 4 (An Economic Theory of Property); and Ch 5 (Topics in the Economics of Property) 
Munzer, A Theory of Property (1990, Cambridge ) esp Ch 1 (Property, justification, and evaluation); Ch 2 (Understanding Property); Ch 3 (Persons and their Bodies); Ch 8 (Utility and Efficiency); Ch 9 (Justice and Equality); and Ch 10 (Labour and Desert) 
Ryan, Property (Open University)
Becker, Property Rights: Philosophic Foundations (1977, Routledge and Kegan Paul) 
Grunebaum, Private Ownership (1987, Routledge and Kegan Paul) 
Mensch and Freeman (ed), Property Law: Vol I ( Dartmouth ) (collection of essays, mostly on topics covered in this course) 
Sackville and Neave, Property Law: Cases and Materials (6th ed  Butterworths ) 
Hayton and Marshall, Cases and Commentary on the Law of Trusts 12th ed (Sweet & Maxwell)                  
Hackney, Understanding Equity and Trusts ( Fontana ) 
Bright and Dewar, Land Law: Themes and Perspectives (1998) OUP (some of the essays are on topics covered in this course) 
Smith, Property Law (2006 ed, Longman) 
Gray and Gray Land Law (4th ed 2005, OUP) 
Palmer & McKendrick, Interests in Goods  (2nd  ed  1997, Lloyds of London Press) (some of the essays are on topics covered in this course) 

Journals and Periodicals:

Cambridge Law Journal 
Estates Gazette  
Law Quarterly Review  
Modern Law Review  
New Law Journal

Law Reports: 

Law Reports, Weekly Law Reports and All England Law Reports 
Estates Gazette Law Reports 
Family Law Reports 
Housing Law Reports  
Property and Compensation Reports

Useful Web Sites:

Land Registry:  
Law Commission:      

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