Not available in 2021/22
LL4S4      Half Unit
Digital Rights, Privacy and Security

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Orla Lynskey NAB 6.23


This course is available on the LLM (extended part-time), LLM (full-time), MSc in Regulation 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 and priority is given to LLM and MSc in Regulation students when allocating places. Students must apply through Graduate Course Choice on LSEforYou.


Basic knowledge of EU law is desirable, but not essential, for this course. Students who do not have this background knowledge are advised to do some preparatory reading (2-3 chapters) before the seminar begins.

Course content

Personal data is an important factor of production in data-driven economies, and the processing of personal data can generate significant economic and social benefits. However, personal data processing can also have a detrimental impact on established rights and values, such as autonomy, privacy and data protection. As a result, legal frameworks to regulate personal data processing have been enacted across the world, with the EU legal model used as a blueprint. Yet, despite the development of such legal frameworks, critical questions remain unanswered. For instance, the objectives of data protection frameworks differ with some prioritising a fundamental-rights approach to data protection regulation while others frameworks are based on an economic free-trade rationale. Disagreement also persists regarding how the balance should be struck between effective data protection and other rights (such as freedom of expression and freedom of information) and interests (such as innovation and national security).

This course will critically evaluate the legal framework applicable to personal data processing. It will be do this predominantly with reference to the EU framework, as this has served as a model for over 100 other jurisdictions. Participants will be introduced to techniques and technologies for monitoring and processing personal data in the information society. In order to bring key issues to life, a number of case studies will be considered, including the application of data protection rules to online behavioural advertising and the use of automated decision-making in the criminal justice context.


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

All students are expected to contribute to a series of class exercises and to submit one piece of formative work for assessment. 

Indicative reading

• Bygrave: Data Privacy Law: An International Perspective (OUP, 2015)

• Cohen: Between Truth and Power (OUP, 2019)

• Kuner: Transborder Data Flows and Data Privacy Law  (OUP, 2013)

• Lynskey: The Foundations of EU Data Protection Law (OUP, 2015)


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

This is an open-book exam.

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: 67

Average class size 2020/21: 17

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills