LL4CG      Half Unit
Tax Law and Policy

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Ian Roxan NAB.7.25


This course is available on the LLM (extended part-time), LLM (full-time) 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 capped at 30 students. Students must apply through Graduate Course Choice on LSEforYou.


This course is suitable for students from any disciplinary background within the social sciences. No previous study of taxation is required. Some prior familiarity with tax concepts is advantageous but not essential.

Course content

This course looks at the interaction of tax law and tax policy in modern societies. Taxation is fundamental and pervasive in modern society in both developed and developing countries. It has an impact on the work of lawyers in many fields, and tax lawyers themselves have to consider the operation of tax law in many contexts, such as corporate and commercial law, family and trust law, labour and employment law, environmental law and intellectual property law. And, as taxpayers seek to minimise their tax burdens, whether legally or by less than legal means, tax law becomes more complex in response.

Using a series of topical examples drawn from different countries and globally, this course will explore what is involved in ‘doing’ tax law, how tax policy is made, and the different perspectives through which tax law and policy, and the interaction between them, can be understood, including law itself, economics, economic analysis of law, politics, sociology and anthropology.

Seminars discussing these principles and perspectives will be complemented by 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 is delivered through a combination of classes and lectures totalling a minimum of 20 hours in Michaelmas Term. Students will usually have two additional hours in the Summer Term. This year teaching will be delivered through recorded online lectures and a mix of both in-person and online classes to accommodate students who are unable to physically be on campus. This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of Michaelmas Term.

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);

• 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;

• 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).

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: 10

Average class size 2019/20: 11

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills