This module introduces you to the fundamentals of UK constitutional, administrative and human rights law from a range of perspectives including critical, geographical and historical. It explores the past, present and future of the UK constitution to enable you to gain an understanding of historical and contemporary issues affecting the relationship between the citizen and the state in the UK. Two central themes run through the module: human rights, and the perspectives of the four UK nations. Alongside this, you'll develop your ability to carry out independent legal research, formulate legal arguments and understand others’ perspectives.
What you will study
This module covers important aspects of the relationship between the state and the individual in the UK from the perspectives of the four UK nations: Wales, Scotland, England and Northern Ireland. It focuses on understanding the geographical scope and historical development of the UK constitution, key current constitutional issues, and how the future of the UK constitution may look. Throughout the module, you'll develop a range of skills, including how to carry out your own research into UK public law. You will study three blocks of content.
The first block introduces the module, its unique elements, and gives you a guide on how to study the module. The following two units then introduce the past and present of the UK constitution and the fundamental principles of UK constitutional law. The final unit introduces two key themes of the module: the perspectives of the four UK nations; and human rights and civil liberties within the constitution.
The second block is divided into two streams and you'll study one of these.
You can explore the power the state has to act over individuals, and the freedoms and rights individuals have in relation to the state. It starts by considering whether and how the UK state and devolved governments are accountable to the people, then examines contemporary human rights issues. You'll look at how the state can maintain the rule of law when responding to an emergency situation, such as the coronavirus pandemic, and investigate the growing power of the executive branch, through the use of secondary legislation and Henry VIII clauses.
Alternatively, you'll imagine what the UK constitution might look like in the future, in light of its historical evolution and the challenges it faces today. This begins by exploring the differing constitutional histories of the four nations of the UK to understand its present challenges. You'll go on to consider how human rights can best be protected in constitutions and may be used to tackle emerging issues in the constitution. You'll also look at how to reshape the Union itself and examine the impact of the UK’s exit from the European Union on the structure of the constitution.
The final block builds on everything learned so far to examine a number of aspects of constitutional and administrative law. It begins by exploring the imperial history of the UK and its impact on the current constitution. You'll then consider what sort of underlying values should found a constitution and how constitutions evolve over time to respond to changing societies. You'll study the treatment of minority and outsider groups in the constitution and consider the relationship between individuals, democracy and the constitution. You'll conclude by examining aspects of administrative law, including the nature and impact of law-making by administrative bodies and role of judicial review and the courts in the UK constitution.
If you are new to study at university level, or are returning after some time, we recommend that you first study an OU level 1 law module such as Criminal law and the courts (W111) or Civil justice and tort law (W112), unless you are a graduate entry student.
If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.
You might find the following resources are useful preparation for this module:
You will be provided with the module textbook Public Law 3rd edition (Stanton and Prescott) and have access to a module website, which includes:
- an eBook version of the module textbook
- a week-by-week study planner
- course-specific module materials
- a downloadable Research handbook to support the development of your research skills
- electronic versions of books to support your studies
- audio and video content
- assignment details and submission section
- online tutorial access and tutor support.
You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11), or macOS (11 'Big Sur' or higher).
Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.
To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).
Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.
Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.
It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop as described above.