The University of Southampton

LAWS2042 Public Law 1: Foundations [AJ]

Module Overview

This Module, the first of two Public Law Modules, considers fundamental questions of constitutionalism common to both UK and EU legal orders. You will examine the UK Governmental and European Union (EU) institutions, the separation of power between them, and the modes of exercise of power in the UK and EU. This includes the differing legal competences of the domestic and European actors, and the reasons for those differences, as well as the interaction between the two regimes. You will examine the importance values such as the rule of law, separation of powers and conferral of powers in shaping the understanding of constitutionalism in both legal orders. An important aspect of this module will be to study the theory, enforcement and application of rights in the UK and EU legal order. In particular, you will study the common law protection of rights in the UK and the impact of the Human Rights Act 1998 in implementing the human rights guarantees of the European Convention of Human Rights. You will also appreciate and examine the importance of rights in the EU legal system, including the growing significance of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the function of economic rights in the internal market. Finally, you will be introduced to the rules of administrative law which prevail in each jurisdiction and the conceptions of administrative justice which stand behind those.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

This Module provides a foundation for understanding key public law institutions and principles both in the UK and EU. The module aims to explore the intersection between the two legal orders and the common values that underpin them.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • the composition and functions of the key legal actors and institutions of the UK Government and European Union
  • the nature, functions and basic doctrines of the UK constitution and the salient features of the foundation treaties of the EU
  • the key sources of the UK constitution and EU law
  • the impact of changing membership of the European Union upon the UK constitution
  • fundamental principles of UK constitutional and EU Law
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • thoroughly analyse relevant legal, political and other primary and secondary source materials
  • critically evaluate specific rules studied and others’ arguments
  • construct and present clear and coherent written argument
  • identify and analyse key policy issues
  • identify strengths and weaknesses in competing arguments, including academic and policy arguments
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • thoroughly critically assess the nature and role of law in the UK and the European Union
  • the nature, functions and doctrines of the UK constitution and the salient features of the foundation treaties of the EU
  • interpret, analyse and critically comment upon the relevant jurisprudence of the UK courts and the CJEU
  • propose clear and well-structured solutions to address controversial questions of UK Constitutional and EU law, and adeptly evaluate others’ proposals


The following topics are indicative of the issues covered in this module: - The institutions of the domestic constitution and the UK - The separation of powers ideal: its actualisation (or not) within each of the two legal order - The reasons for and history of the development of the EU - The sources of legal authority in the UK and the EU - The forms of law: primary and secondary legislation in the UK; the EU Treaties and acts of the EU Institutions (including directives, regulations, decisions) - The relationship between the two legal orders: including direct effect and supremacy, indirect effect and state liability, the ECA 1972 and Parliamentary sovereignty; the preliminary reference procedure - The concept of constitutionalism - The importance of values and principles in domestic and EU law - Rule of Law, Separation of Powers and Conferral of Power in the UK and EU legal orders - The Common Law as a source of rights - The Human Rights Act 1998 and the Convention of Human Rights - The Charter of Fundamental Rights - Economic Rights and the EU internal market - Administrative Justice and grounds of review

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include 2 x 1 hour lectures per week 1 x 2 hour seminar per fortnight Learning activities include - Directed Reading (as per distributed reading lists) - Preparation for seminars including preparing answers to set questions and identifying own questions to ask in the seminars - Preparing and writing formative coursework and self-reflection of that process - Class discussion (including small group work).

Wider reading or practice8
Preparation for scheduled sessions150
Total study time320

Resources & Reading list

Hall and Stott (2015). Blackstones Statutes: EU Treaties and Legislation. 

The principal library resources exist through the library’s existing holdings (including electronic). The module will also be supported by provisions in the ‘Blackboard’ learning platform.. 

Dadomo and Quenivet (2015). European Union Law. 

Le Sueur, Sunkin and Murkens (2016). Public Law: Text Cases and Materials. 





MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  ( words) 30%
Examination  (2 hours) 70%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (2.5 hours) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (2 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

Purchase of relevant set textbook(s) plus statute books (UK Public Law and Human Rights and EU Treaties and Legislation). Le Sueur, Sunkin and Murkens, Public Law: Text Cases and Materials, OUP, 2016 Dadomo and Quenivet, ‘European Union Law’ Hall and Stott, 2015 Blackstones Statutes: EU Treaties and Legislation UK Public Law and Human Rights

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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