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University of London International Programmes

English Common Law: Structure and Principles

University of London International Programmes via Coursera

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Please note: This course will be closing to new learners from 24th September 2018, when a new course from the University of London will open. The new course is, Introduction to English Common Law.

This current course will run for existing learners for six months from this date.

Information on this current course:
The Common Law of England and Wales is one of the major global legal traditions. In order to understand the common law, we need to deal with its history, and the development of its characteristic institutions like the jury, judge made law, parliamentary sovereignty and due process. We also need to ask some critical questions. What role does democracy play in the development of the common law? To what extent are human rights central to the modern common law? How does the common law of England and Wales relate to the law of the European Union? Answering these questions will give us insights into the current challenges the law faces and its possible futures.


Week One: Dead Kings and Presidents: A Brief History of the Common Law
Week one introduces you to the history of the Common Law, from armies and kings through to modern family life. We will journey through the evolution of the Common Law to the system we see today. By the end of this week, hopefully you'll understand more about: 1. Understand some of the process involved in the Justice System 2. Understand the history of the development of the common law.

Week Two: See You In Court: The Court System and the Common Law
Welcome to week 2 of English Common Law. Learning outcomes this week: 1. Describe the Hierarchy of the UK Courts, the Judges who sit there and their Judicial role

Week Three: Supreme Power: Parliamentary Sovereignty and Law Making
Welcome to week 3 of English Common Law. Learning outcomes this week: 1. Explain the concept of Parliamentary Sovereignty 2. Describe the journey of a Bill

Week Four: Wigs and Pens: Judicial Law Making and the doctrine of Precedent
Welcome to week 4 of English Common Law. Learning Outcomes this week: 1. Explain the Court Hierarchy in relation to precedent 2. Identify ways in which precedent may be avoided 3. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of precedent

Week Five: Reading the Riot Act: How Statutes are Interpreted
Welcome to week 5 of English Common Law. Learning Outcomes this week: 1. Explain the role of Judges in interpreting the law 2. Compare the rules of interpretation and identify the rules of language

Week Six: After the War, Before the Peace: The European Union and Human Rights
Welcome to week 6 of English Common Law. Learning Outcomes: 1. Explain the effect of the European Communities Act 1972 on Parliamentary Sovereignty 2. Identify the effect on precedent and statutory interpretation 3. Discuss the effect of the Human Rights Act 1998

Taught by

Dame Hazel Genn of UCL


3.9 rating, based on 15 Class Central reviews

Start your review of English Common Law: Structure and Principles

  • Fantastic course for law students. Presentation of the course is excellent . I am especially interested in when precedent is binding and when not binding. However, the certificate provided in signature track is confusing. It is mentioned that the course is authorized by the University of London and offered through coursera but it is also mentioned that " This statement does not confer University of London registration, degree, award, grade or credit" . I think that the certificate provided by the Edx is more transparent. It says that the candidate has obtained a passing grade.
  • Anonymous
    The lectures are moderately interesting, though not quite what I expected. It's more about how the English legal system works than the content of the caselaw. The assignments are more like reading comprehension tests than content tests. Anyone with decent reading comprehension could pass without ever watching the video lectures.
  • Anonymous
    The course provides a good understanding of the common law judicial system, presenting basic principles, relationship between powers and their structure of functioning.
  • Anonymous
    A great course. it is agood introduction to English Common Law.
  • Excellent course on English Common Law. The course guidelines the presenter and the mentor support is awesome! I feel both confident and challenged with the course assignments and it is a wonderful academic learning experience.
  • Llama
  • Alan Salsac
  • Saqib Niazi
  • Stephane Mysona
  • Dingo Flunk
  • Dawn D Shaw

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