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Unit information: Insurance Law in 2021/22

Unit name Insurance Law
Unit code LAWDM0156
Credit points 30
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Miss. Kate Bracegirdle
Open unit status Not open




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


The law of insurance has been the subject of extensive statutory reform in the last eight years. Traditionally the contract of insurance is one of utmost good faith which can lead to legal consequences that have often been criticised as unduly punitive to the insured party. The balance of rights and obligations of the parties has been somewhat redressed by the new consumer and other protections. This unit will cover the principles and rules of the law of insurance and the different legal regimes applying to consumer and non-consumer insureds. The unit aims to provide students with an understanding of the particular statutory and common law rules applying to formation, performance and discharge of a contract of insurance and the principle of indemnity. This latter principle is key to the operation of insurance contracts and is supported by the important commercial remedies of subrogation and contribution, which this unit will also cover. The unit also aims to provide opportunities for students to undertake research into specific types of insurance contract and the most important topical issues currently facing the insurance industry.

Intended learning outcomes

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

  1. Explain the general principles of insurance law, examine how they manifest themselves in the relevant legal rules and assess to what extent they have been modified or supervened as a result of other imperatives;
  2. Apply the common law and statutory rules to fact situations which raise complex issues of insurance law and appraise how the recently enacted statutory provisions are likely to be applied by the courts in practice;
  3. Evaluate the effectiveness of recent reforms of insurance law, criticise any continuing defects in the current law and recommend proposals for further reform if required;
  4. Research particular types of insurance, summarise the features of these relative to insurance law generally and critique the law relating to them;
  5. Reflect on current issues of concern to the insurance industry, prioritise these and determine how the current law or future law reform might impact on them.

Teaching details

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

Assessment Details

Assessment will be by 2,000 word essay (33%) and 3 hour exam (67%). ILOs 1,2,3 and 5 will be assessed by way of the examination and ILOs 1-5 will be assessed by way of the essay.

Students will have the opportunity to do one formative assessment in the form of a 1500 word essay.

Reading and References

A full reading and resource list will be provided prior to commencement of the unit. A good starting point for reading in this subject is Birds, J., Birds’ Modern Insurance Law, Sweet & Maxwell 11th edn, 2019