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The University of Southampton

LAWS2049 Public Law of the European Union

Module Overview

This module considers fundamental questions of constitutionalism in the EU legal order. You will examine the European Union (EU) institutions, the separation of power between them, and the modes of exercise of power in the EU. This includes the legal competences of the European actors, as well as the interaction between the EU and UK legal regimes. An important aspect of this module will be to study the theory, enforcement and application of rights in the EU legal order. In particular, you will examine the importance of rights in the EU legal system and the function of economic rights in the internal market.

Aims and Objectives

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 European Union.
  • The salient features of the foundation treaties of the EU.
  • The key sources of EU law.
  • The impact of changing membership of the European Union upon the UK constitution.
  • The concept of constitutionalism in the EU including the values that inform our understanding of this concept such as: Rule of Law, Separation of Powers and Conferral of Powers.
  • The significance of the rights protection in the EU.
  • Economic rights and the internal market.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Critically assess the nature and role of law in the European Union.
  • Thoroughly engage with primary sources of European Union law.
  • Interpret, analyse and critically comment upon the relevant jurisprudence of the CJEU.
  • Propose clear, well-structured and developed solutions to address controversial questions of EU law, and evaluate others' proposals.
  • Construct complex arguments clearly and coherently in order to pose cogent questions about rights and values in European Public Law.
  • Engage in critical analysis and reflection about the political, social and legal context of rights protection and application in both the EU including economic rights in the internal market.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Analyse in depth relevant primary and secondary source materials.
  • Critically evaluate specific rules studied and others' arguments.
  • Construct and present clear and coherent written argument on complex issues.
  • Identify and analyse key policy issues.
  • Identify strengths and weaknesses in competing arguments, including academic and policy arguments.


- 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 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 EU law. - Rule of Law, Separation of Powers and Conferral of Power in the EU legal orders. - Economic Rights and the EU internal market.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: - Two hours of lectures each week, providing an overview of the module content and, where appropriate, offering a detailed discussion of specific elements of module content. - Ten hours of tutorials in which small groups will discuss material read in advance; this will primarily consist of cases relevant to that tutorial’s topic, and the application of the rules which emerge out of that reading. Learning activities include: - Directed Reading as per distributed reading lists. - Independent research to add to core knowledge, where appropriate. - Preparation of answers to problem questions in advance of seminars. - Class discussion including small group work. - Completion of a summative examination.

Independent Study120
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Peers and Bernard (2017). European Union Law. 

Other resources. 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.





MethodPercentage contribution
Closed book Examination  (2 hours) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Closed book Examination  (2 hours) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Closed book Examination  (2 hours) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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