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Undergraduate Module Descriptor

LAW3020: Family Law

This module descriptor refers to the 2023/4 academic year.

Module Aims

The main aim of this module is to introduce you to the law, principles and policies related to adult partnerships and parent/child relationships. In connection with this, the module will develop your understanding of how family law has evolved to respond to both traditional and non-traditional family models, and of which types of family relationship have receive stronger and weaker levels of protection.


The module aims to look beyond the substance of the law to consider how it operates in practice, which includes consideration of the impact of a strong policy emphasis on out-of-court and lawyer-free resolution of family disputes. You will also be exposed to the influence of policy priorities and socio-legal research in this field, and you will become practised at using different types of evidence to critique the current effectiveness of family law and the family justice system.  Engagement with debates about proposals for reform of elements of family law will be a frequent part of your learning experience.


A distinctive feature of this module is that it aims to provide a strongly research-enriched learning experience. You will examine a range of socio-legal research studies, many of them conducted by members of the module teaching team, and develop insights into the relationships between law, policy and research in this area.


An additional aim of the module is to help you appreciate the needs of the users of family law and family justice and to develop your ability to communicate in different ways for different audiences. As well as developing your academic oral and writing skills, you will be given opportunities to design resources suitable for the general public and to practise negotiating skills. While studying this module you can expect to participate in a diverse range of learning and assessment activities which are designed to encourage the rigorous application of sources to constructing solutions to contemporary problems in family law and policy, and to help you develop your problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

This module's assessment will evaluate your achievement of the ILOs listed here – you will see reference to these ILO numbers in the details of the assessment for this module.

On successfully completing the programme you will be able to:
Module-Specific Skills1. describe, with accuracy and precision, the key legal rules, principles and processes governing: a) the formation, termination and consequences of a range of adult relationships; b) the establishment of parent/child relationships; and c) the resolution of family disputes;
2. demonstrate awareness and thorough understanding of recent family law and policy developments, and current debates and reform proposals with reference to relevant policy, research and academic commentary.
3. describe and evaluate in an informed manner the ways in which family law and the family justice system encourage private settlement of family disputes, and some of the impacts this has in practice.
Discipline-Specific Skills4. explain the content and function of relevant legal concepts, values, principles, institutions and procedures in depth, demonstrating understanding of the relationships between them where appropriate;
5. use appropriate strategies and tools to conduct independent research on an aspect of the law and use the materials found to construct a reasoned response to a proposition concerning the law’s approach to an issue or problem;
6. identify and apply, with accuracy and precision, relevant legal rules and principles to a doctrinal legal problem, demonstrating awareness of doctrinal complexity and/or uncertainty.
Personal and Key Skills7. present, either orally or in writing, a clear, confident and informed response to a question based on a taught or independently researched legal topic;
8. devise a strategy for solving a short complex problem or practical task and effectively and concisely communicate the results, either alone or as part of a team.