LL469      Half Unit
UK Human Rights Law

This information is for the 2023/24 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, who are not studying law, 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 demand is typically high. This may mean that you’re not able to get a place on this course.

Course content

This course will be made up of a detailed study of the UK Human Rights Act. The origins of 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 (and the further government consultation that has followed its publication) will be discussed. The proposal of a new bill of rights to replace the Act, currently before Parliament, will be considered.


There will be two hours of teaching content each week in Autumn Term. There will be a Reading Week in Week 6 of Autumn Term. One two-hour seminar in the Spring 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 spring exam period.

Key facts

Department: Law School

Total students 2022/23: 13

Average class size 2022/23: 14

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

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Personal development skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills