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Unit information: Trusts in 2021/22

Unit name Trusts
Unit code LAWD30120
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Mrs. Catey Thomas
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

This unit covers the core principles of the law of Trusts in England and Wales. It considers: the nature and purpose of a trust and its origins in Equity; trusts and other concepts; different types of trust, including an introduction to purpose trusts, resulting trusts and constructive trusts; the three certainties; formalities for the creation of express trusts; constitution of trusts and imperfect gifts; the position of the beneficiary; the role and nature of trusteeship; trust administration and management, including investment of trust funds and delegation by trustees; the duty of care; fiduciary duties; breach of trust and relief; proprietary remedies and tracing; personal liability of strangers to a trust (recipient and accessory liability).

The trust concept has been described as ‘the greatest and most distinctive achievement performed by Englishmen in the field of jurisprudence’ (Maitland, 1936). Although difficult to define – not least because of its flexibility - the trust is of great significance to very many areas of law and modern life, from family law to commercial law, and from land law to insolvency and charities. At the heart of the trust lies the separation of ownership into legal and beneficial ownership, enabling one person (the trustee) to hold property for the benefit of another (the beneficiary) or for certain purposes, with attendant obligations on the trustee and consequences when those are breached. This unit enables you to understand and evaluate the principles of trust law underpinning the creation and operation of trusts and their breach, and see (and question) the myriad ways in which trust principles play a role in wider law, commerce and society.

Intended Learning Outcomes

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

  • Recognise and describe different types of trust, identify and explain their core components, and explain and evaluate the requirements for effective creation of express trusts;
  • Explain and evaluate the role and duties of trustees, and the various possible consequences of breach for the trustee and other persons;
  • Construct and articulate principles of trusts law, drawing on a range of different sources of material including both primary and secondary legal materials;
  • Analyse and critique the way in which the law responds to particular issues in trusts law, and the coherence of different approaches;
  • Select and employ relevant statutory provisions and case law to provide advice on legal issues and problems in trusts law.

Teaching Information

Teaching will be delivered through a variety of asynchronous and synchronous activities

Assessment Information

1 x summative assessment: coursework with a specified word count (100%)

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


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. LAWD30120).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.