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Unit information: Constitutional and Substantive EU Law in 2018/19

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Unit name Constitutional and Substantive EU Law
Unit code LAWDM0088
Credit points 30
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Dunne
Open unit status Not open




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


This unit aims to give students an understanding of both constitutional and substantive EU Law. The unit examines the institutional structure of the EU, the available legislative instruments, the relationship between EU law and national law, and key aspects of substantive EU law including a discussion of market integration and the free movement of goods. It discusses the role and competences of the EU institutions, with a particular focus on the Court of Justice and its relationship with national courts.

A knowledge of the European Union legal system is an essential part of legal education in every Member State. For students of law in the United Kingdom, learning about the EU – its institutions and legal framework – is particularly important at this time, as the UK prepares to leave the European Union in March 2019 and students consider the likely shape of domestic law in the post-Brexit era.

MA students will already have encountered certain aspects of EU law in the first year Public Law course (principally the history, the institutions, the development of the EU legal order and the effect of membership of the EU on parliamentary sovereignty). This EU law course is taught on the basis that students are already familiar with the EU material which was covered in that unit.

This unit is therefore designed:

  • to make students ‘Euro-literate’, that is, to make them as familiar with the institutions, terminology and concepts of EU law as they are (or ought to be) with those of the domestic legal system;
  • to acquaint students with the nature of the relationship between EU law and domestic law, and between the European Court of Justice and national courts; and
  • to introduce students to some major areas of substantive EU law, both as an end in itself and also as a basis upon which to proceed to further specialised study.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this unit a successful student will be able to:

  • Critically analysis the nature of the European Union and its political and economic context through to the Treaty of Lisbon
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of the institutional structure of the EU, and the law-making and decision-making processes
  • Illustrate and evaluate the main aspects of the law of the internal market in relation to the free movement of goods
  • Evaluate the legal order of the EU and how it relates to the domestic legal order by:
    • stating and analysing the direct effect and supremacy of EU law and comparing the way in which it is applied by courts at the European and national levels
    • discussing the development, and critically appraising the current state, of the fundamental rights jurisprudence of the Court of Justice
    • evaluating and accounting for the development of the principle of state liability
    • critically comparing public and private enforcement of EU law
    • identifying the tensions inherent in the Article 267 TFEU preliminary reference procedure
    • appraising the effectiveness of bringing of judicial review actions against the EU institutions

In relation to the outcomes above, students will also be able to:

  • State the law accurately
  • Critically apply legal principles to problem case scenarios
  • Think critically about the law and ways in which the law could be reformed.

Teaching details

This unit is taught by way of 20-30 lectures, 10 two-hour seminars and 2 assessment preparation and feedback sessions. Lectures are delivered jointly to students on the related undergraduate unit.

Assessment Details

Summative: a 2000 word essay (33%) and a 3 hour written examination (67%). Both assessments will assess all of the Intended Learning Outcomes for this unit in the context of topics selected by the examiners.

Formative: students should do one formative assessment (this will usually be 1 x 1500 word essay).

Reading and References

Students must use a statute book (or printed copies of the relevant Treaty materials and other relevant legislation).
We strongly recommend that you use the latest edition of:

  • Blackstone’s EU Legislation (2016/17) by Nigel Foster.

The textbook we recommend for this unit is:

  • Craig and de Búrca’s EU Law: Text Cases and Materials (OUP, 6th ed. 2015)

Possible alternative textbooks are:

  • Chalmers et al: European Union Law (CUP, 3rd ed. 2014). This is a comprehensive text, cases and materials book, with extracts from a range of sources.
  • Hartley: The Foundations of European Union Law (OUP, 8th ed. 2014). This is a succinctly written and concise textbook.
  • Barnard, The Substantive Law of the EU (OUP, 4th ed, 2013)