LL4CG      Half Unit
Understanding Tax Law and Policy

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Ian Roxan NAB.7.25 and Mr Eduardo Baistrocchi NAB.7.33


This course is available on the LLM (extended part-time), LLM (full-time), MSc in Law and Accounting and University of Pennsylvania Law School LLM Visiting Students. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course is required for the following LLM specialism: Taxation, but is also available to other students. NB: The monthly Taxation Seminars are available to all with an interest in taxation including LLM and MSc students. Students wishing to attend the Taxation Seminars are very welcome. For more information, see the Law Department or LSE Financial Markets Group web pages.

This course is capped at 30 students. Students must apply through Graduate Course Choice on LSEforYou.


Students will be expected to either be taking other tax-related courses in any discipline, or to have a good background in taxation.

Course content

Taxation is fundamental and pervasive in modern society. It has an impact on the work of lawyers in many fields have to be aware of the impact of taxation on their work, and tax lawyers have to consider the operation of tax law in many contexts: corporate and commercial law, family law, labour and employment law, law of wills and trusts, environmental law, intellectual property law and law relating to the digital economy. And, as taxpayers seek to minimise their tax burdens, whether legally or by less than legal means, tax law becomes more complex in response.

How can tax lawyers better understand tax law so that they can apply it with sophistication and creativity for their clients, whether private clients or governments? How can those interested in tax policy achieve social goals effectively through tax law?

Using a series of topical examples, this course will explore the key skills needed to do tax law and different perspectives through which tax law and policy can be understood, such as law itself, economics, economic analysis of law, politics, sociology and anthropology. Seminars discussing these principles and perspectives will be integrated with the monthly LSE Taxation Seminars during the Michaelmas Term, which will provide students with direct exposure to leading speakers from a wide range of backgrounds on current debates in taxation. The LSE Taxation Seminars series, established since the 1960s, brings together a wide variety of participants, including lawyers, economists, accountants and government officials. The Taxation Seminars provide an important forum for topical discussion on taxation. This course will give students the opportunity to participate actively in the Taxation Seminars and to link insights from them to the methods of understanding tax law and policy studied in the course.


22 hours of seminars in the MT. 2 hours of seminars in the ST.

Weekly two-hour seminars in the Michaelmas Term in a variable format, including seminar-discussions and monthly Taxation Seminars attended by a range of tax professionals. 1 X 2 hour seminar in the ST.

There will be a reading week in Week 6 of the MT.


Formative coursework

Students are expected to submit one 1,500-word formative essay.

Indicative reading

  • Avi-Yonah, et al., Global Perspectives on Income Taxation Law (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2011);
  • Mirrlees, et al., Tax by Design: the Mirrlees Review (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press: 2011);
  • Mirrlees, et al. (eds), Dimensions of Tax Design: the Mirrlees Review (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2010);
  • Lamb, et al. (eds),Taxation: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Research (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2004);
  • Murphy and Nagel, The Myth of Ownership (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2002);
  • Kaplow, “Rules Versus Standards: An Economic Analysis” (1992), 42 Duke L. J. 557;
  • Weisbach, “Formalism in the Tax Law” (1999), 66 U. Chicago L. Rev. 680;
  • James and Nobes, The Economics of Taxation (2018), (Birmingham: Fiscal Publications, 17th or 18th ed.);
  • Brys, et al., ‘Tax Design for Inclusive Economic Growth’, OECD Taxation Working Papers, No. 26 (Paris: OECD Publishing, 2016);
  • Keen and Konrad, ‘The Theory of International Tax Competition and Coordination’ (2014), Working Paper of Max Planck Inst. for Tax Law and Public Fin. No. 2012-06;
  • Crawford and Infanti (eds), Critical Tax Theory: An Introduction (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2009);
  • Marc Leroy, ‘Tax Sociology: Sociopolitical Issues for a Dialogue with Economists’ (2008) 3 socio-logos.

Detailed reading lists will be provided during the course via Moodle.


Essay (100%, 8000 words).

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2018/19: 18

Average class size 2018/19: 18

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills