Administrative Law

This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Thomas Poole NAB7.19

Additional Teachers: Professor Carol Harlow


This course is available on the BA in Anthropology and Law and LLB in Laws. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content


Administrative Law is a vital subject throughout the modern world.  An understanding of the role which it plays is essential to private practitioners. Commercial lawyers frequently come into contact with regulatory agencies whose special procedures derive from administrative law. Dealings with international agencies (including the European Union) are often governed by administrative law. Public law expertise opens the way to good careers in government service. There is a flourishing Administrative Law Bar, reflected in well-established sets of chambers.

The course aims to reflect the wider dimensions of administrative law, stressing links with public administration, commerce and politics. We emphasise the functions of law in the administrative process and the constitutional role of judicial review.  We also aim to show how membership of the European Union and adherence to the European Convention on Human Rights has influenced our system of public law.  We look at the way in which changed systems of governance, especially the rapid growth of regulatory agencies, can be reflected in and controlled by traditional rules of administrative law.  We consider alternative dispute resolution, including public inquiries or the Citizens' Charter. In addition to compulsory essays there are opportunities for presentation of papers.


Theories of administrative law. Decision-making and the administrative process: rules and discretion. The ‘contracting state’: administrative law and new public management. Risk and the regulatory state (including responses to the financial crisis of 2008-9). The changing nature of judicial review. Judicial review and the Human Rights Act. The role of public inquiries. European influences on national administrative law. ‘Global administrative law’. The Ombudsman and complaints.


20 hours of seminars in the MT. 20 hours of seminars in the LT. 2 hours of seminars in the ST.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the MT and 1 essay in the LT.

Indicative reading

Main texts: C. Harlow & R. Rawlings, Law and Administration (3rd ed., 2009); P. Cane, An Introduction to Administrative Law (2004); M. Taggart (ed.), The Province of Administrative Law (1997); N. Bamforth and P. Leyland (eds.), Public Law in a Multi-Layered Constitution (2003). 


Exam (67%, duration: 3 hours, reading time: 15 minutes) in the main exam period.
Essay (33%, 4000 words) in the ST.

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2016/17: 12

Average class size 2016/17: 12

Capped 2016/17: Yes (25)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills