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Unit information: Land Law in 2021/22

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing, student choice and timetabling constraints.

Unit name Land Law
Unit code LAWDM0075
Credit points 30
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Professor. Cowan
Open unit status Not open




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


Land Law is concerned with the distinctive body of rules that regulates the ownership of land. In particular, this unit examines the range of interests in land that are recognised by the law and how these interests are created, transferred and enforced. Land Law focuses on the most important of the practical situations in which property rights are fragmented – when more than one person has an interest in the same piece of land – and on how property rights may endure through, or be defeated by, the transfer of ownership of the land. Throughout the unit, the focus is on registered land (rather than unregistered land).

In seminars, particular emphasis is given to the development of problem-solving skills. In addition, the unit is designed to enhance skills of legal reasoning, analysis and synthesis, and to develop the ability to deal with primary sources – both cases and legislation. The purpose of the coursework component of the unit is to develop skills of independent legal research and writing.

What exactly is land? How does Land Law affect Generation Rent? What happens to the family home when cohabitees’ relationship breaks down? Right to roam, right to a home…all of these matters, and more, are the concerns of this subject. During the course you will learn that Land Law is not an arid set of laws and doctrines, but is thoroughly intertwined with human experience in the living world.

This unit explores the core principles of English land law. While developing a strong grounding in doctrinal land law, you will discover the historical development of those principles, the policies that have driven their development, socio-political perspectives on their form and operation, as well as the future scope for law reform in the area.

Core topics will be: the history, structure and concerns of land law; the registered title regime; formal and informal acquisition of interests; co-ownership and successive ownership; leases; licences; easements; covenants; security; adverse possession, human rights and future challenges.

Intended learning outcomes

Develop unit-specific knowledge and understanding of the system of English land law. By the end of the unit, a successful student should be able to:

  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of how estates and interests in land are created and transferred
  • Critically analyse the characteristics of the major interests in land
  • State and evaluate transactions involving land present priority problems
  • Critically examine how such priority problems will be resolved
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of the forces that have shaped the development of the law
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of the defects of the current law and it might be reformed

Teaching details

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

Assessment Details

2 x summative assessments: 2 x Timed Open Book Assessment with a specified word count

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

Reading and References

Core Texts:

There are some alternative books - in particular many students find Dixon very helpful as an alternative (it depends on your learning style):

  • Dixon M, Land Law (10th Ed OUP 2016)

Students sometimes find that easier books offer a different way into the topic, which help them to return to the recommended text book, but they are not sufficient on their own. You may well find it easiest to start with an easier textbook and then build upon it. This can get expensive or you can borrow library copies. The key thing is to find a book or books, which suit your way of learning. Two good books in this category are:

  • Stroud, Making Sense of Land Law (4th ed, Palgrave, 2013) or
  • Mackenzie & Phillips, Textbook on Land Law (16th ed, OUP, 2016)