The University of Southampton

LAWS2019 Law of Torts

Module Overview

The ‘law of torts’ is less unified than many of the core subjects studied, and includes a broad range of torts protecting a variety of different interests. The course itself falls into two parts. The first part introduces the broad range of torts, and then focuses on the fundamental principles of liability with particular reference to negligence.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The aims of this module are:

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • the functions of tort law; report on some empirical evidence concerning its success as a system of compensation for accidents, and evaluate the arguments for significant reform of tort law in this context.
  • the key principles of the torts of negligence, nuisance, and defamation, including principles of liability and defences; determine answers to hypothetical problems concerning these torts; and appreciate key decisions in these torts.
  • the relevance of questions of exclusion and limitation in the Law of Torts.
  • the basic principles relevant to other selected torts, e.g. breach of statutory duty, and recognise and explain their relevance and influence in the key areas studied.
  • tort remedies, and determine which heads are recoverable in hypothetical problem questions.
  • the areas of overlap between different torts, and critically compare their underlying principles in relevant respects.
  • the links between tort and other legal topics, especially contract, public law, and human rights, and understand the role of tort law in these respects.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • identify, locate and analyse primary and secondary legal sources in order to identify key legal principles and policy arguments, including strengths and weaknesses in competing arguments (including academic and policy arguments) and recognise the limits of certainty in legal principle.
  • examine factual situations (generally hypothetical) and produce reasoned arguments for proposed legal solutions.
  • produce a clear, orderly, and well-structured account of aspects of the law and of proposed solutions to legal questions, especially in areas where solutions are open to question and argument.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • analyse and assess legal materials by way of case analysis (and some statutory interpretation) and review of secondary materials to identify, comprehend and evaluate fundamental legal principles and their impact upon contemporary issues.
  • from a given factual scenario: identify the relevant legal facts and issues raised; explain the law applicable to the identified legal issues; apply the relevant law to the facts; examine uncertainties in the law and its application to the given facts and evaluate alternative approaches and arguments; provide adequate support by reference to legal authority.
  • produce effectively reasoned and structured responses to given propositions, drawing on appropriate legal authorities to support assertions.


Negligence – standard of care, breach of duty, causation, remoteness, defences.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching will be by two lectures and one tutorial per week in semester one. In semester two, there will be two lectures per week and one tutorial per fortnight (with the exception of the final two weeks, which return to weekly tutorials). The tutorials are intended as occasions for detailed discussion of specific topics within the broader areas covered in lectures, and you are expected to come fully prepared. Reading, questions and all the cases required for preparation will be placed on Blackboard in advance of each tutorial. Tutorials are also occasions for you to raise problems and questions and to obtain feedback on your progress. In semester two, for the group work, you will be expected to submit a written presentation to your tutor in advance of the tutorial – this will form the basis of the tutorial discussion, and you will be provided with informal feedback on your submission. Lectures will develop: • The structure of the subject and the key applicable principles, policies and rules of law in relation to the Law of Torts; PowerPoint presentations and handouts are provided and are loaded onto Blackboard after the lectures. • Key areas of development, uncertainty and controversy in recent decisions and (where relevant) policy-making and statutory reform; • An explanation and analysis of links between the Law of Torts and other legal topics. Preparation for and participation in tutorials will develop: • Your ability to discuss key principles and their limitations with your peers; • Your ability to develop and sustain reasoned arguments, in general and in relation to specific problem scenarios; • Your ability to manage a range of sources, to review and evaluate complex material; • In relation to the semester two group work: Your ability to work with others and to take responsibility for work undertaken as a group; • Your time management and research skills

Wider reading or practice20
Preparation for scheduled sessions93
Completion of assessment task40
Follow-up work20
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

Steele (2014). Tort Law: Text, Cases and Materials. 

Cane (2006). Atiyah’s Accidents, Compensation and the Law. 

Blackstone (2013). Blackstone's Statutes on Contract, Tort and Restitution. 

McBride and Bagshaw (2015). Tort Law. 

Witting (2015). Street on Torts. 

Peel & Goudkamp (2014). Winfield and Jolowicz on Tort. 

Weir (2006). An Introduction to Tort Law. 

Lunney & Oliphant (2013). Tort Law: Text and materials. 

Mulheron (2016). Principles of Tort Law. 





MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework  (2500 words) 25%
Examination  (3 hours) 75%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (3 hours) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (3 hours) 100%


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Books and Stationery equipment

Recommended texts for this module may be available in limited supply in the University Library and students may wish to purchase the core/ recommended text as appropriate.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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