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Courses

LAWS2045 The Law of Torts

Module Overview

The ‘law of torts’ covered in this module is less unified than many of the core subjects studied in your programme. It includes a broad range of torts protecting a variety of different interests. The module begins by situating the law of torts in relation to the broad principles underpinning contract and criminal law; introduces you briefly to the broad range of torts, and then focuses on the fundamental principles of liability with particular reference to negligence. Other torts (e.g., nuisance, the rule in Rylands v Fletcher, some intentional torts) are considered, as are current issues of particular difficulty and importance in respect of tort law. At particular junctures, the topics studied demand thinking across the categories of law encountered during the degree programme, and are therefore especially appropriate for you in Part 2 of your programme. For example, the sessions on nuisance focus on the potential human rights implications for tort law. Although many of the topics studied centre upon the tort of negligence, this focus is by no means exclusive, and a number of other torts are drawn in where appropriate. You will be encouraged to consider and evaluate the role, nature, and functions of tort law, as well as its technical rules.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• To provide you with knowledge and understanding of the major principles of a broad range of torts in outline, and the interests they protect; and to provide you with a sound knowledge and understanding of selected issues of central importance to the law of torts; • To equip you with knowledge and understanding of the relevance of questions of limitation and the use of defences, including aspects of remedies in the law of torts, and the links between tort and other legal topics; • To provide opportunities for you to further develop your skills of legal analysis and problem-solving; and the synthesis of a range of both traditional legal and other primary sources, and relevant academic commentaries. You will have the opportunity to develop your skills in presenting arguments orally in tutorials.

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
  • the key principles of the torts of negligence, nuisance, and the rule in Rylands v Fletcher, including principles of liability, limitation and defences; determine answers to hypothetical problems concerning these torts; and appreciate key decisions in these torts
  • the basic principles relevant to other selected torts, e.g. battery, and recognise and explain their relevance and influence in the key areas studied
  • the basic principles regarding tort remedies, and determine which heads are recoverable in hypothetical problem questions
  • the areas of overlap between different torts, and links between tort and other legal topics, e.g. contract, human rights, and critically compare their underlying principles in relevant respects
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 your assertions
  • 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 hypothetical and factual situations and produce reasoned arguments for proposed legal solutions in writing, demonstrating an appreciation of academic integrity
  • 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

Syllabus

This module will introduce you to a number of key concepts in the law of torts. We will focus especially on the fundamental principles of liability in tort, with particular attention paid to the tort of negligence. Accordingly, the syllabus will include the following: Negligence: duty of care, breach of duty, causation, remoteness and defences. Nuisance, and the rule in Rylands v Fletcher, and points of interaction between the law of torts and the Human Rights Act 1998.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: One 2-hour lecture weekly, and one 1-hour tutorial per week for ten weeks of the module, (i.e., weeks 2-11). 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; • 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. PowerPoint presentations and handouts are provided and are loaded onto Blackboard for use. The reading list, questions and cases required for preparation will also be placed on Blackboard in advance of each tutorial. 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. Tutorials are also occasions for you to raise problems and questions in discussion with your group and tutor, and thus provide regular opportunities to obtain feedback on your progress. Learning activities include: Engagement with the lecture sessions, from ‘active listening’ to asking specific questions on the materials in order to ensure you have understood what is being presented to you, both during and after the lectures. Preparation for and participation in the weekly tutorials. As noted above, the tutorials are opportunities to test out your knowledge and understanding, and to discuss specific issues, problems and points of uncertainty. Preparation for and participation in the tutorials will develop: • Your ability to discuss key principles and their limitations with your peers and tutor; • Your ability to develop and sustain reasoned arguments, in general and in relation to specific, often hypothetical problem scenarios; • Your ability to manage a range of sources, to review and evaluate complex material; • Your time management and research skills.

TypeHours
Follow-up work10
Preparation for scheduled sessions46
Completion of assessment task10
Wider reading or practice10
Revision40
Tutorial10
Lecture24
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

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

Weir (2006). An Introduction to Tort Law. 

McBride and Bagshaw (2015). Tort Law. 

Blackstone (2014/15 or 2015/16). Statutes on Contract, Tort and Restitution. 

Cane (2013). Atiyah’s Accidents, Compensation and the Law. 

Assessment

Formative

Examination

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (2 hours) 100%

Repeat

MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (2 hours) 100%

Referral

MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (2 hours) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Costs

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:

Textbooks

Recommended texts for this module may be available in limited supply in the University Library, and thus we would expect you to purchase the core text(s), i.e., the core textbook and a statute book In addition, there may be costs associated with printing out hard copies of cases and articles. Steele, Tort Law: Text, Cases and Materials (Oxford University Press, 2014, 3rd ed). OR McBride and Bagshaw, Tort Law, (5th edition, Longmans, 2015). Blackstone’s Statutes on Contract, Tort and Restitution (2014/15 or 2015/16).

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 www.calendar.soton.ac.uk.

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