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Unit information: Corporate Governance in the United Kingdom and United States in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Corporate Governance in the United Kingdom and United States
Unit code LAWDM0069
Credit points 30
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Mr. Price
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 a fundamental understanding of the legal rules that determine the balance of decision-making power within Anglo-American public companies. It assesses the main theoretical models of the business corporation as developed within English and American jurisprudence and scholarship, in order to provide a basic conceptual structure to the course material. It then proceeds to examine and compare the key features of UK and US (Delaware & federal) company and securities law in relation to issues such as: the distribution of authority between directors and shareholders; the structure & composition of the corporate board; directors’ duties and financial risk management; and takeovers & the market for corporate control; and the relationship between corporate governance and corporate social responsibility. The emphasis is on studying how the legal rules and institutions interact with wider market pressures in establishing effective managerial incentives and disciplinary mechanisms.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will:

  • be able to explain the different theoretical approaches to corporate governance in the UK and the US,
  • have gained a knowledge and understanding of the regulatory institutions and the different corporate governance structures available to companies in the UK the US and across the world,
  • be familiar with contemporary debates and issues within corporate governance,
  • be able to research traditional literature sources and library and internet databases,
  • be able to demonstrate an ability to research independently and to present a coherent written argument on a variety of corporate governance topics.

Teaching details

This unit is taught by way of 20 lectures (approx.), 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: 2 x 3000 word essays (50% each) will assess the candidate's ability to research a topic within the scope of this unit. 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

  • Mayson French and Ryan, Company Law (31st ed, 2014, OUP)
  • C.A. Mallin, Corporate Governance, (5th ed, OUP, 2015)
  • Tricker, Corporate Governance (3rd ed, OUP, 2015)