This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Michael Blackwell


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.

Available to second and third year LLB and BA Anthropology and Law students. It is also available as an outside option to second and third year students where regulations permit.

Course content

Taxation is a topic that has throughout history pervaded political debate and is encountered in every area of life. Taxation was one of the very first subjects to be taught at LSE. The teaching of tax law as an academic subject started at LSE, where it was introduced by Professor GSA Wheatcroft in 1957.

On the LSE Taxation course, the approach to the subject includes a strong policy perspective. However, legal issues are still important. The UK tax code is long and complex. There are also many relevant cases that are required reading too. Accordingly, by taking this course you should develop the following skills and attributes (i) working with and analysing legislation; (ii) working with and analysing case law; (iii) research skills; (iv) communication skills; (v) professionalism.

Students taking this course should be prepared to use a variety of sources ranging from statute and case law to literature on public policy. The precise balance of materials used varies from topic to topic. All the readings set will be accessible and non-mathematical. NO COMPUTATION is required and no knowledge of any discipline other than law is required. The course is open to second and third year law students, and experience suggests that it is equally suitable for both years.

The syllabus is set out below, although there is some variation of topics selected from year to year, depending on the focus of current debate, and in the order of topics.


  • General principles of taxation – objectives of a tax system, types of taxation, and the philosophical foundations of taxation: what gives the state the right to tax? Structure and administration; powers of HM Revenue and Customs. Outline of the British tax system.
  • Employment income – taxation of salaries, wages and other remuneration of employees and officers.
  • Business income (trading income) – taxation of business profits, income taxation of unincorporated businesses.
  • Tax treatment of capital – capital gains tax; other taxes on capital and on income from capital – objectives and effectiveness. 
  • Corporations – legal forms for carrying on a business, reasons for taxing corporations, corporation tax, integration with taxation of individuals, distributions to shareholders, taxation of shareholders on reorganisations and takeovers, taxation of groups of related companies.
  • International aspects – the tax base, tax residence and domicile, double-tax relief, tax treaties and the consequences of British membership of the EU for UK tax.
  • Statutory interpretation and tax avoidance – application and interpretation of tax legislation by the courts; tax evasion and tax avoidance and methods of controlling these activities.


30 hours of seminars in the MT. 30 hours of seminars in the LT. 3 hours of seminars in the ST.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 4 essays in the MT and LT.

Indicative reading

The principal book for the course is expected to be Lee, Revenue Law Principles and Practice (Bloombury Professional, 2017). Tiley and Loutzenhiser, Revenue Law (Hart Publishing, 2016) will also be referred to. These texts are supplemented by the other readings that will be set.  The cases and readings are readily available electronically or in BLPES.  Vouchers are available for students on the course to purchase of published copies of the tax legislation at a substantial discount. N.B.: most tax law textbooks are revised extensively on an annual basis, so do not buy an old one! 

For some interesting background reading the first five chapters of Tiley et al (2016) are useful. Also see M.C. Blackwell ‘Variation in the Outcomes of Tax Appeals Between Special Commissioners: An Empirical Study’ [2013] British Tax Review 154.


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

Selected 'Legislation' may be taken into the examination, with non-verbal markings only.

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2016/17: 15

Average class size 2016/17: 16

Capped 2016/17: Yes (25)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Commercial awareness
  • Specialist skills

Course survey results

(2014/15 - 2016/17 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 78%



Reading list (Q2.1)


Materials (Q2.3)


Course satisfied (Q2.4)


Lectures (Q2.5)


Integration (Q2.6)


Contact (Q2.7)


Feedback (Q2.8)


Recommend (Q2.9)