Tax and Tax Avoidance

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Michael Blackwell


This course is available on the BA in Anthropology and Law, BSc in Accounting and Finance 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

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.

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.


On the 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. This course requires students to understand and apply difficult concepts and legislation.

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.


20 hours of seminars and 10 hours of seminars in the MT. 20 hours of seminars and 10 hours of seminars in the LT. 2 hours of seminars and 1 hour of seminars in the ST.

A variety of methods will be used within the weekly seminars. This seminar system is not suitable for students who favor passive lecture learning and regurgitation of facts.  Student participation will be central.  Assistance will be given with methods for statute-based work.  Substantial preparation and by students will form an integral part of the course.

Formative coursework

Students are expected to produce at least 2 formative assignments over the academic year.

Indicative reading

M.C. Blackwell ‘Conduct Unbefitting: Solicitors, the SRA and Tax Avoidance’ [2019] British Tax Review 31-54. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3354776

M.C. Blackwell ‘Variation in the Outcomes of Tax Appeals Between Special Commissioners: An Empirical Study’ [2013] British Tax Review 154. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3337780 


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

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

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2018/19: 24

Average class size 2018/19: 24

Capped 2018/19: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills