Advanced Torts

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Miss Helen Reece NAB6.24

Additional Teachers: Dr Emmanuel Voyiakis and Dr Charlie Webb.


This course is available on the BA in Anthropology and Law and LLB in Laws. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit. This course is not available to General Course students.


Students must have completed Law of Obligations (LL104).

Course content

Our course aims to broaden and deepen your knowledge of tort law in two ways. First, it looks at a range of important torts that are not covered in the Law of Obligations course. Second, it tackles the ‘big’ theoretical questions of tort law. On finishing the course, you will not only have gained a better understanding of the rules and principles that govern specific torts, but you will also be able to engage critically with different views about the overall purpose and the moral and social function of tort law.

Here are some topics we usually cover:

(1) Theories of tort law: what is the aim of tort law and do judges need a theory of it?

(2) Tort law and the ‘compensation culture’

(3) Tort law, moral responsibility and luck

(4) Negligence focus: the position of public authorities; negligent endangerment

(5) Wrongful life and wrongful birth

(6) Interference with the person: assault; battery; harassment; the Wilkinson v Downton tort

(7) Problems of causation: loss of chance

(8) Illegality

(9) Strict liability regimes: vicarious liability; liability for ultra-hazardous activities; liability for defective products; the justification of strict liability.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT. 1 hour of lectures and 1 hour of classes in the ST.

Formative coursework

One item of written work per term

Indicative reading

Introductory Texts: John G. Fleming, An Introduction to the Law of Torts (2nd ed., 1985); Carol Harlow, Understanding Tort Law (3rd ed., 2005).

General Texts: W V H Rogers, Winfield & Jolowicz on Tort (18th ed., 2010); N J McBride & R Bagshaw, Tort Law (4th ed., 2012); B A Hepple, D Howarth & M H Matthews, Tort: Cases and Materials (6th  ed., 2008); S Deakin, A Johnston & B Markesinis, Markesinis and Deakin’s Tort Law (7th ed, 2012); P Cane, Atiyah’s Accidents, Compensation and the Law (7th ed., 2006).

Advanced/Specialised Texts: Robert Stevens, Torts and Rights (2007); Jules Coleman, Risks and Wrongs (2002); Guido Calabresi, The Cost of Accidents: A Legal and Economic Analysis (1970); David Owen (ed.), Philosophical Foundations of Tort Law (1997); Harvey Teff, Causing Psychiatric and Emotional Harm: Reshaping the Boundaries of Legal Liability (2008); Nicolette Priaulx, the Harm Paradox: Tort Law and the Unwanted Child in an Era of Choice (2007).

If all goes according to plan, the degree of depth we will attain in the course and the focused nature of our reading lists for each topic will make textbooks redundant, or at least useful only as a basic introduction to the issues we will be covering. This means that the tort textbook you may have purchased for the LL104 Law of Obligations course will probably be good enough for the latter purpose. Here are some other introductory or general texts that you might like to consult from time to time, just to get a different perspective on things, and some more advanced or specialised books from which we will be setting reading for certain topics.


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours, reading time: 15 minutes) in the main exam period.

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2015/16: 27

Average class size 2015/16: 14

Capped 2015/16: Yes (30)

Lecture capture used 2015/16: Yes (MT & LT)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Leadership
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills