Family Law

The details
Law (School of)
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Undergraduate: Level 6
Thursday 08 October 2020
Friday 02 July 2021
10 July 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

What are the legal implications of family breakdown when the parties are married? Or when they are civil partners? How does this change if they have children?
Examine key features of family law, including the protective function of law (for example relating to domestic violenceand to child protection), the adjustive function of law (for example, in relation to the adjustment of property rights), and the rights and responsibilities of family members

Module aims

• to introduce students to the main features of Family Law in England and Wales;
• to introduce students to a range of status relationships exist within the ‘family’, and the rights and responsibilities of family members;
• to foster an understanding of the protective function of law, particularly in relation to domestic abuse and child protection;
• to foster an understanding of the adjustive function of law, particularly in relation to property rights on relationship breakdown;
• to foster an understanding of the social and policy issues that underpin the law

Module learning outcomes

Students will demonstrate:

• an understanding of the main features of Family Law in England and Wales;

• an ability to analyse and evaluate the law in light of legal, social, and political considerations;

• skills in critical analysis and synthesis;

• an ability to structure a reasoned argument, supported by reference to appropriate primary and secondary sources.

Module information

This module introduces students to the main features of Family Law in England and Wales. It aims to provide students with knowledge and understanding of the various status relationships which exist (e.g. spouse, civil partner, cohabitant, parent) and of the consequences which flow from them. The module examines, in particular, the legal implications of family breakdown whether the parties are married, in a civil partnership or are cohabiting, and whether or not they have children.
The course considers not only the rights and responsibilities of family members but also the protective function of family law, in particular the law relating to domestic abuse and child protection.
As well as giving students a good grounding in law, the module aims to foster understanding of the social and policy issues which underpin the law. Family Law is a rapidly developing subject that deals with the trials and tribulations of the human condition. For these reasons it is a challenging, but fascinating, subject.
Weekly two hour sessions (each session will be either a lecture or a seminar); materials and resources are on Moodle (there is a clear expectation that these will be utilised).

Learning and teaching methods

This module is taught through a mixture of weekly live webinars, pre-recorded videos, and tutorials. Each week the module teaching team will first produce and make available on Moodle two 25-minute pre-recorded video lectures. The module teaching team will then deliver a weekly live 50-minute webinar in which they further explore key legal concepts and answer your questions about the topics. These lectures and webinars will subsequently be available online through Moodle so that you can re-watch them as part of your independent study. Alongside this, there will be five bi-weekly 50-minute small group tutorials. The module teaching team will also produce and make available on Moodle short guidance notes. These notes will introduce the material to be covered in the lectures, webinars and required readings. The notes will also contain tips designed both to help you navigate the material to be covered in the lectures and webinars and to equip you to analyse the required readings.

You will be expected to have completed the required readings in advance of your tutorials. Your tutorials will enable you to discuss the material covered in lectures, webinars and the required readings, obtain feedback on your pre-class preparation and deepen your understanding of key concepts. To help you prepare in the best possible way for your tutorials, you will be completing regular Multiple-Choice Quizzes on Moodle. The quizzes will be based on the reading set for that week so that the quiz forms part of your preparation for each tutorial. The quizzes will enable you to track your progress, understand what you are doing well, and give you clear feedback to help you manage your studies and your progress.


  • BURTON, Francis. (no date) Core Statutes on Family Law 2019-20, Palgrave, 2019.
  • Gilmore, Stephen; Glennon, Lisa; Hayes, Mary; Williams, Catherine. (2018) Hayes and Williams' family law, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Herring, Jonathan. (2017) Family law, Harlow, United Kingdom: Pearson.

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Skills-Based Coursework Assignment    20% 
Practical   Multiple Choice Quizzes    20% 
Written Exam  Take-Home Exam    60% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Ms Penelope Brearey-Horne, email: pbrear@essex.ac.uk.
Ms Penelope Brearey-Horne, Dr Jo Harwood, Ms Liz Fisher-Frank, Dr Laure Sauve
Law General Office, 01206 872529, lawugadmin@essex.ac.uk



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
Of 44 hours, 44 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information
Law (School of)

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

Disclaimer: The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its Module Directory is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to programmes, modules, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to modules may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery or assessment of modules and other services, to discontinue modules and other services and to merge or combine modules. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications and module directory.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.