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Unit information: Land Law in 2015/16

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Unit name Land Law
Unit code LAWD20002
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Professor. Layard
Open unit status Not open




School/department University of Bristol Law School
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit considers in detail the range of rights that may exist in land, their durability, along with the rules governing potential conflicts between such rights. Topics covered include: formalities; leases and licences; informally acquired interests including proprietary estoppels and constructive trusts; concurrent interests and co-ownership; easements; mortgages and the family home; registration; concepts of property and adverse possession.

The unit aims to give students a basic understanding of land law. Students are equipped to understand and apply the distinct conceptual tools deployed in land law and the particular applications of legal reasoning associated with it, notably in terms of statutory interpretation.

Students will be able to discuss the range of rights that one or more people may hold in relation to land, and the principles that govern the enforceability of such rights against third parties. They will be expected to read around the subject, understanding land law “in context”, challenging and critiquing some of the assumptions and practices in land law. They will be also be able to solve problems arising in these areas of land law.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of this unit a successful student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate unit-specific knowledge and understanding of the system of English land law
  • Interrogate legal provisions to identify underlying values and assumptions.
  • Explain how estates and interests in land are created and transferred
  • Explain the characteristics of the major interests in land
  • Identify when transactions involving land present priority problems
  • Explain how such priority problems will be resolved
  • Show an understanding of the forces that have shaped the development of the law
  • Show an understanding of the weighting given to particular arguments in land law
  • Make recommendations for reform
  • Use statutory materials to:
    • cite any relevant statutory provisions accurately, when stating or discussing the law
    • analyse and explain the meaning of these provisions, in light of case law interpreting them
    • use that understanding in the resolution of complex land law problems
  • Solve complex, multi-issue legal problems by:
    • analysing complex land law problems, to identify the legal issues raised
    • identifying the applicable legal principles
    • using those principles in a well-ordered and well-reasoned manner to resolve the legal issues raised

Teaching details

30 lectures and 8 tutorials

Assessment Details

Formative assessment: one mid-sessional examination in January plus one other piece of formative work.

The (formative) mid-sessional exam is mandatory; the other formative assessment is optional.

Summative assessment: one 3-hour (unseen) exam consisting of essays and problem questions (100% of mark).

The assessments will assess all of the intended learning outcomes for this unit.

Reading and References

- Bogusz and Sexton, Land Law: Text Cases and Materials (OUP, 2015)

Articles and chapters on reading lists include: S. Bridge “Money, Marriage and Cohabitation” [2006] Family Law 641; Cowan, Fox OMahoney and Cobb, Great Debates: Property Law (Palgrave, 2012); D. Watkins, “Recovering the Lost Human Stories of Law: Finding Mrs Burns” (2013) Law and Humanities, 68-90; S. Nield, “Responsible lending and borrowing: Whereto low-cost home ownership?’, (2010) 30(4) Legal Studies 610; Goymour, Easements, servitudes and the right to park (2009) 67(1) C.L.J. 20-23; Law Commission Report on Easements and Covenants