Foundations of the Law of Obligations

The details
Law (School of)
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 5
Thursday 03 October 2019
Saturday 14 December 2019
02 August 2019


Requisites for this module


LW101, LW201, LW241, LW242, LW363

Key module for

LLB M100MS Law,
BA MVC5 Philosophy and Law,
BA MVC6 Philosophy and Law (Including Placement Year),
BA MVC8 Philosophy and Law (Including Foundation Year),
BA VM51 Philosophy and Law (Including Year Abroad),
BA VM58 Philosophy and Law (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad),
LLB M103 Law (Senior Status),
LLB MM20 Law with Human Rights,
LLB MM21 Law with Human Rights (Including Year Abroad),
LLB MM22 Law with Human Rights (Including Placement Year),
LLB MV16 Law with Philosophy,
LLB MV18 Law with Philosophy (Including Year Abroad),
LLB MV19 Law with Philosophy (Including Placement Year),
LLB ML14 Law with Politics (Including Year Abroad),
LLB ML15 Law with Politics (Including Placement Year),
LLB ML16 Law with Politics,
LLB MM00 Law with Criminology,
LLB MM01 Law with Criminology (Including Year Abroad),
LLB MM02 Law with Criminology (Including Placement Year)

Module description

This 15 credit module will act as an introduction to the study of contract and tort and set them in the wider framework of the common law of obligations.

The main aim will be to introduce students to key concepts in the separate disciplines of contract and tort.

However the module will also highlight the interplay between contract, tort and restitution in order to demonstrate the significance in practice of these distinct branches of the law of obligations.

Module aims

To understand the key principles of the law of obligations, specifically the basics of contract formation and tort law claims in negligence.

To be able to identify when a contract has been validly formed, to identify when a claim for negligence might be brought, and to be able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of both areas of law and how they regulate obligations.

Module learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of the module, students will be able to:

- Understand the limits and scope of each of the three branches of the law of obligations

- Demonstrate an understanding of the principles of contract formation

- Demonstrate an understanding of the elements of negligence liability and recognise the wider sociological and political context of the problems of blame culture

- Apply this knowledge to resolve legal problems in simulated cases and to critically evaluate the current state of the law

Module information


The first five weeks of teaching will provide an overview of fundamental aspects of contract law and explain the relationship of contract law to other branches of the law of obligations. This part of the foundation module will serve as the introduction to a ten week contract module which will be taught in the following spring term. The second five weeks of teaching will provide an overview of the law of negligence and serve as an introduction to the ten week module Tort Law.


1. The common law of obligation, the role of contract, tort and restitution

2. Establishing Agreement: offer and acceptance, consideration, intention to create legal relations, certainty and privity


3. The Duty of Care: Donoghue through to Caparo and beyond

- The Foreseeability of Harm

- Proximity

- Fairness, Justice and Reasonableness

4. Breach of Duty

- The Standard of Care: The Man on the Clapham Omnibus/Skilled, Professional, Juvenile or Infirm Defendants

- Factors Influencing a Finding of Breach

5. Causation and Remoteness

- Successive/Overtaken Torts and Joint Liability

- Cumulative Torts

- Causal Indeterminacy

- Novus Actus

- The Egg-Shell Skull Rule

- The Remoteness Rule

6. Limitations and Defences

- Contributory Negligence

- Volenti Non Fit Injuria

Learning and teaching methods

Two hour lectures per week
Four fortnightly seminars


  • Horsey, Kirsty; Rackley, Erika. (2019) Tort Law, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Chen-Wishart, Mindy. (2018) Contract Law, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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 Formative Assignment
Coursework Summative Essay 100%

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Jaime Lyndsey and Lee Hansen
Law General Office, 01206 872529, lawugadmin@essex.ac.uk



External examiner

Ms Annette Marie Morris
Cardiff University
Reader in Law
Available via Moodle
Of 56 hours, 40 (71.4%) hours available to students:
16 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)

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