Not available in 2020/21
Administrative Law

This information is for the 2020/21 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. This course is available with permission 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 and ombudsmen. 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 role of agencies. The ‘contracting state’: administrative law and new public management. Risk and the regulatory state (including responses to the financial crisis of 2008-9). Freedom of information. The changing nature of judicial review. Judicial review and the Human Rights Act. Tribunals. The role of public inquiries. Strategic Litigation and third-party interventions in public 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

C. Harlow & R. Rawlings, Law and Administration (3rd ed., 2009); N. Bamforth and P. Leyland (eds.), Public Law in a Multi-Layered Constitution (2003); M. Adler (ed.), Administrative Justice in Context (2010).


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

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2019/20: Unavailable

Average class size 2019/20: Unavailable

Capped 2019/20: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills