LL469      Half Unit
UK Human Rights Law

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Professor Conor Gearty


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.

Those seeking to take it will need to discuss this first with the course teacher: the course is quite legal in focus. 

This course has a limited number of places and we cannot guarantee all students will get a place.

Course content

This course will be made up of a detailed study of the UK Human Rights Act. The origins and the political background to the Act will be explained, and the structure of the measure will be fully elaborated, relying on the text of the Act itself but also on the burgeoning case law that accompanies the measure. The course will identify the principles that underpin the Act and explain its proper place in English law. It will also explore the wider constitutional implications of the measure, looking at its effect on the relationship between courts and Parliament. The political context in which the measure has had to operate will be considered, and the relationship with the change to human rights protection following the UK's departure from the EU will be considered. The recent official review of the Act (whose report is due in Summer 2021) will be discussed.


This course will have two hours of teaching content each week in Michaelmas Term, either in the form of a two hour seminar or an online lecture and one hour class. There will be a Reading Week in Week 6 of Michaelmas Term.

Formative coursework

One 2,000 word essay.

Indicative reading

The key text is C A Gearty, On Fantasy Island. Britain, Strasbourg and Human Rights (OUP, 2016). See also R Costigan and R Stone, Civil Liberties and Human Rights (11th edn, OUP, 2017);

Kavanagh, Constitutional Review under the UK Human Rights Act (Cambridge, 2009);

Hickman, Public Law After the Human Rights Act (Hart, 2010);

Gearty, Principles of Human Rights Adjudication (Oxford University Press, 2004).

While these books will be referred to, students will also be expected to read cases: they will receive a detailed Reading list for each topic.


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours, reading time: 15 minutes) in the summer exam period.

This subject is examined by one two hour paper, composed of at least six questions of which two must be attempted. There will be a fifteen minute reading time during which the exam paper may be written on.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 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 differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching 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 2020/21: Unavailable

Average class size 2020/21: Unavailable

Controlled access 2020/21: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills