Contract Law

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Nicholas Sage

Additional teachers include: Paul MacMahon, Charlie Webb


This course is compulsory on the BA in Anthropology and Law and LLB in Laws. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

Contracts are essential to most business transactions. Contract law also shapes interpersonal relations in many other areas of life. This course introduces the general principles of contract law, including contract formation, interpretation, defences (eg misrepresentation, duress), breach, and remedies. Students will learn to apply these principles to resolve concrete legal problems. Students will also be invited to reflect on whether the existing legal doctrines are justifiable in light of their important social consequences.

The focus will be on the common law of contract as developed in England. This body of law is articulated largely through judicial decisions, supplemented by some detailed legislation. The course will aim to foster the lawyerly skills of closely reading, reasoning about, and debating the key legal sources.


16 hours of lectures and 9 hours of classes in the AT. 20 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the WT. 2 hours of lectures and 1 hour of classes in the ST.

The first two hours of classes in the AT will introduce aspects of the legal system.

The course is delivered through weekly two-hour lectures and one-hour classes (with mid-term reading weeks in AT and WT).

Formative coursework

Two formative written assessments, one in AT and one in WT.

There will be opportunities to complete further optional assessments (eg writing practice exam answers).

Indicative reading

We will read a wide range of case law, as well as statutes and legal scholarship. A representative selection of five readings:

  • Gibson v Manchester City Council [1979] 1 WLR 294 (HL)
  • Williams v Roffey Bros & Nicholls (Contractors) Ltd [1991] 1 QB 1 (CA)
  • Co-operative Insurance Society Ltd v Argyll Stores (Holdings) Ltd [1998] AC 1 (HL)
  • Consumer Rights Act 2015
  • Stephen A Smith, ‘Contracting Under Pressure: A Theory of Duress’ [1997] Cambridge Law Journal 343


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

Key facts

Department: Law School

Total students 2022/23: Unavailable

Average class size 2022/23: Unavailable

Capped 2022/23: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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.

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Commercial awareness