THE PROPERTY LAW PROJECT
The PLP is the third of the core (compulsory) Property Law modules on the Reading LLB, alongside Land Law and Equity and Trusts. It offers an opportunity to gain an in-depth knowledge of an important, complex and ‘difficult’ area that straddles both Land Law and Equity: co-ownership. In other law schools, this topic would be dealt with in Land Law or Equity and Trusts or both, but we have separated it out because it is so important, because it demonstrates how Land Law and Equity and Trusts are but overlapping components of Property Law, and because it allows you to study one topic in detail and from a socio-legal perspective.
The PLP also carries the skills development element at Part 2 of your LLB, the aim being to prepare you for the level of research skills and independent learning you will need in your final year.
The final thing that distinguishes the PLP from other core modules is that it focuses not just on the current law (though this will be foregrounded) but also on its historical development and socio-legal context. This approach has been adopted to demonstrate how contemporary law can best be understood by examining the conditions that created it. It also provides you with exposure to socio-legal method, a leading approach in legal research and one that may inspire some of you, as it did me, to undertake further research in this direction.
There is no dedicated textbook for this module. You will find coverage of co-ownership and implied trusts in both your Land Law and Equity textbooks and you should refer to them when learning the law.
The PLP does not start until week 7, after you have gained the necessary grounding in Land Law and Equity in the first half of the term. Ten lectures on the substantive law (two per week) will be given by Rosemary Auchmuty, whom you already know from Land Law An additional lecture towards the end of the autumn term will deal with any questions you might have about the module content and discuss the assessment topics and formats.
There will be one tutor-led tutorial in the autumn term. Annika Newnham will take these. One of the questions you are asked to prepare for this is the first part of the assessed coursework, so it is very important that you prepare and attend, to ensure that you are on the right track with the work.
This module is designed to develop independent learning, which means there are fewer lectures than you are used to and you will have to do a greater amount of learning outside the classroom. Each lecture is followed by a Homework section which you should prepare before you watch the next one. The answer will sometimes be discussed in that following lecture, and sometimes not – the point is that simply doing the homework will consolidate your understanding of the law and context and develop the skills that will prepare you for the assessed work, specifically (a) case-reading and (b) problem-solving.
In the spring term there will be no teaching. Instead, you will use the time to prepare and produce the other two pieces of assessed coursework, the judgment and the poster. Two tutorless tutorials have been timetabled to facilitate the group element of the assessed work. These give you a timetabled room and time when your groups can get together to discuss and produce your poster. No tutor will be present throughout the session. You can contact staff by email if you have queries or issues to discuss.
The assessment on this module is entirely coursework-based. There is no exam. The coursework has three elements. First, you will be asked to write an answer to a problem question on a co-ownership problem, a type of exercise with which you will be familiar. This is worth 50% of your final mark. Second, you will write an alternative judgment on a given case (40%) and, third, you will produce a group poster (10%). The coursework questions are given in this Handbook, following the tutorial topic.
The problem is designed to test your grasp of current co-ownership law in all its complexity, as well as your ability to give correct, coherent legal advice. This is due early in the spring term.
The judgment [note the spelling: a decision in the case is a judgment, while your assessment of a situation is a judgement] is intended to increase your awareness of the importance of case law, both as authority for the law and as social documents from a given time and place. In order to write your judgment, you will need to familiarise yourself with the techniques and conventions of judgment-writing. This means that you should read a great many case reports. You will be given questions for guidance in the Homework sections of this Handbook. Doing these exercises will assist you in this assessment task.
The group poster enables you to use your shared understanding of co-ownership law to educate people who don’t have this knowledge, who need to know the legal issues and pitfalls in order to avoid the kinds of problems we will read about in the case law. It’s an opportunity to work in a team to put across a clear and accurate message in a creative way, and should be fun to do.
The judgment, group poster and poster reflection are all due at the end of the spring term. Please pay careful attention to the Assessment Criteria for each task, as your work will be marked against these criteria.
If you have any questions or comments, I would be happy to receive them.
Rosemary Auchmuty (module convenor)