PUBLIC LAW 1 - 2023/4

Module code: LAW1057

Module Overview

The module is a core subject for a qualifying legal degree as required by the Bar Council to qualify as a barrister and a core subject to be examined later as part of the Solicitors’ Qualifying Exam.

It introduces students to the constitutional arrangements of the UK and the key institutions and concepts inherent in its uncodified constitution such as Parliamentary Sovereignty. It then explores these against the specific situations influenced by these aspects such as EU membership, devolution, and participation within the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

This module serves as a basis for several modules that follow later in the degree. For example, it introduces the key judicial review concepts that are involved in Public Law 2 (Level 5) and the institutional aspects and domestic legal considerations arising from EU membership that are further covered in the EU Law module (Level 5). It also explains the mechanics of the Human Rights Act which, as well as being relevant to Public Law 2, is relevant to many optional subjects at Level 6 such as Family Law, Medical Law, and the Law of Evidence.

Where relevant the module makes comparisons with the constitutional arrangements of other jurisdictions (e.g.US, China, South Africa) and accordingly students can expect to obtain an awareness of intercultural variations in constitutional frameworks.

Module provider

School of Law

Module Leader

LEWIS Sebastian (Schl of Law)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 4

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 62

Lecture Hours: 22

Tutorial Hours: 8

Guided Learning: 36

Captured Content: 22

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

  • Intro to the UK Constitution

  • Institutions

  • Sources of the Constitution

  • Separation of Powers

  • Parliamentary Sovereignty

  • Rule of Law

  • Judicial Review

  • EU membership

  • Devolution

  • ECHR

  • HRA

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework 2,500 WORD COURSEWORK 100

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate within a coursework essay: knowledge and understanding of the topics covered;
the ability to think critically and to analyse relevant areas of law and policy; the ability to think creatively, to articulate legal arguments supported by precedent and to analyse
judicial or academic opinions within a legal framework; a critical understanding of the key concepts underpinning the constitution such as Parliamentary Sovereignty, Separation of Powers, and the Rule of Law.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of: 

A 2500 word coursework

Formative assessment
A piece of coursework equal to half of the summative assessment

Feedback is provided in three ways:
1. On script and general feedback for formative and summative.
2. General feedback lecture based upon formative performance of cohort.
3. One-to-one, face-to-face feedback (optional).


Module aims

  • To provide a foundational knowledge and understanding of the principles inherent in the UK's uncodified constitution.
  • To introduce and examine key constitutional concepts such as Parliamentary Sovereignty, Separation of Powers, and the Rule of Law.
  • To enable students to understand how the key concepts shape the constitutional arrangements in a number of specific areas such as EU membership, devolution, and participation in the ECHR.
  • To provide a critical understanding of the mechanics of the Human Rights Act.
  • To equip students with the knowledge and skills to engage in the critical evaluation of the operation of the relevant law in the specific situations studied.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Understand the nature of and general theories and principles underpinning the UK's uncodified constitution. K
002 Demonstrate a critical awareness of the roles and tensions between the institutional actors within the constitution. CKPT
003 Demonstrate a critical understanding of the key concepts underpinning the constitution such as Parliamentary Sovereignty, Separation of Powers, and the Rule of Law. CKPT
004 Demonstrate how the key constitutional concepts have shaped specific situations such as EU membership, devolution, and incorporation of the ECHR. CKPT
005 Demonstrate a critical awareness of the operation of the Human Rights Act. CKPT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is as follows:

Teaching will be supported by the University’s VLE, SurreyLearn, and will employ a mix of two-hour lectures and one-hour tutorials.

Lectures will use an imaginative mix of art, music, video, role play, scenarios, questions, and didactic delivery to communicate the key information.

The first lecture will provide an overview of the UK as a state and its constitutional elements. Thereafter, the initial lectures will focus on the institutions and concepts within the constitution. Once a baseline of knowledge has been established this will be used in the remaining lectures to help students develop analyses of how the constitutional arrangements shape specific constitutional contexts such as devolution.

There will also be a feedback lecture to respond to the formative assessment and a revision lecture in preparation for the summative assessment.

The tutorials will build upon the lecture topics and require students to undertake set readings, answer set questions and participate in the debate stimulated by the readings and questions. The questions will stimulate students to develop a critical legal mindset and in debate challenge the frictions inherent in the constitutional arrangements. Students will need to be resourceful in the gathering of evidence and resilient to the challenges of legal debate. Research will require students to use the digital capabilities required for the use of practice databases such as Westlaw and Lexis Nexus – these are the same databases they are likely to use once employed as lawyers.

Experience shows that this is not an easy module for some first-year students and it will be stressed from the outset that students need to be resilient in their engagement with the teaching, the tasking, and with each other in order to succeed. The teaching events will create an inclusive, mutually supportive, community in which students know what is required of them but feel comfortable to participate in the debates that present. An online discussion forum will be available for questions and discussion when teaching is not taking place.

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: LAW1057

Other information

Employability: As a core module it is a pre-requisite to qualification as a barrister and it also examines material that forms a key part of the Solicitors Qualifying Exam.

Digital Capabilities: Students will engage with the module via the virtual learning environment (SurreyLearn). They will also be required to find tutorial resources and undertake further research using the external legal databases such as Westlaw and LexisNexus.

Global and Cultural Capabilities: Where relevant and within available time constraints, the module will take a comparative approach and consider the constitutional arrangements for other countries such as USA, China, and South Africa. This will provide students with an appreciation of how constitutions are shaped by prevailing social and cultural influences within a jurisdiction.

Resourcefulness and Resilience: Students will be encouraged to be active participants in the learning and teaching events and will have ample opportunity to participate in questioning and debating the issues involved. Students will be encouraged to spend a good deal of time reflecting upon the material, the legal concepts and the issues involved. The formative assessment is designed to provide an opportunity for feedback and reflection and will enable improvements to be made for the summative exam. It also provides an early opportunity for students to develop their essay writing skills and this will help them in future modules with coursework assessment.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Law LLB (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Law (Law and Technology Pathway) LLB (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Law (Philosophy, Politics and Law Pathway) LLB (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Law with Criminology LLB (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Law with International Relations LLB (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2023/4 academic year.