Foundations of Property Law

The details
Law (School of)
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 4
Monday 13 January 2020
Friday 20 March 2020
02 August 2019


Requisites for this module


LW202, LW303

Key module for

LLB M122 English and French Law (Maitrise),
LLB M100 Law,
LLB M100MD Law,
LLB M100MS Law,
LLB M101 Law (Including Foundation Year),
LLB M107 Law (Including Placement Year),
LLB M120 Law (Including Year Abroad),
LLB M120AF Law (Including Year Abroad),
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 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 MN00 Law with Business,
LLB MN01 Law with Business (Including Year Abroad),
LLB MN02 Law with Business (Including Placement Year),
LLB MN10 Law with Finance,
LLB MN11 Law with Finance (Including Year Abroad),
LLB MN12 Law with Finance (Including Placement Year),
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 provide students with an introduction to the fundamental principles of the law of property in England and Wales.
Together with the 15-credit Land Law and Equity & Trusts modules, it is designed to satisfy the property law requirements of the professional bodies for those students who intend to practise law in England and Wales.
It is designed to provide students with a sound understanding of the key features of property law and of the framework within which the property lawyer operates, and the wide range of matters this covers.

This modules serves as an introduction to the English law of property. Students will learn about the distinction between property rights and personal rights and the distinction between personal and real property. The main focus of the module will be on real property, or property rights in relation to land.

Module aims

To provide an appropriate foundation for the further study of Land Law and Equity & Trusts

To explain and critically consider:

1. The framework within which the property lawyer operates, and the wide range of matters this covers;

2. The nature, acquisition and transfer of property interests;

3. The social and legal contexts in which trusts arise;

4. The concept of equity and the historical development of equitable principles;

5. The nature and role of equitable remedies.

Module learning outcomes

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

1. Define and explain what is meant by: real property, personal property and intellectual property;

2. Explain what is meant by Equity and define and describe each equitable maxim;

3. Understand the concepts of ownership, occupation and possession, and distinguish between legal ownership and equitable ownership;

4. Understand the ways in which interests in property might be acquired, both formally (by grant, by will, upon intestacy etc.) and informally (through the doctrines of implied trusts and adverse possession);

5. Apply their knowledge of the law to hypothetical fact-situations.

Module information


1. The Idea of Property and Forms of Property

2. An Introduction to Land Law

3. Protection for the horizontal and vertical boundaries of land

4. The doctrine of tenures and estates

5. Fixtures and fittings; lost and hidden objects; treasure

6. What is equity? An introduction to equitable property rights

7. Acquisition of freehold estates

8. Land Law in Action – freehold covenants in land

9. The historical basis of the trust and some modern applications of the trust

10. Testamentary dispositions of property

Learning and teaching methods

This module consists of 10 weekly two-hour seminars and weekly video lectures. Each week, one or more video lectures will be released to students and students will be expected to have watched these videos before the seminar.
Students will also receive weekly seminar packs, which include short introductory notes and required readings for each week.
Students will be expected to have read the notes and completed the required reading before each seminar.
At the end of each week's notes, Students will find the seminar questions, which they will be expected to discuss in the seminar together with their colleagues and their lecturer.


  • (no date) Bernstein of Leigh (Baron) v Skyviews & General Ltd [1975 B No 6333], [1978] QB 479.
  • Emma Challinor. (2012) 'Debunking the myth of secret trusts', in Conveyancer and Property Lawyer. (4) , pp.263-273
  • (no date) Scmlla Properties Ltd v Gesso Properties (BVI) Ltd [1995] BCC 793–819 (Ch D).
  • Thompson, Mark; George, Martin. (2017) '"The scope of the subject"', in Thompson's Modern Land Law: Oxford University Press., pp.13-18
  • Dixon, Martin. (2018) Modern land law, Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Gardner, Simon. (2011) 'The Nature of Trusts', in Introduction to the Law of Trusts, Oxford: Oxford University Press., pp.1-27
  • (no date) King v Dubrey [2015] EWCA Civ 581; [2015] W.T.L.R. 1225.
  • (no date) Law Commission, Transfer of Land Formalities for Contracts for Sale etc of Land (Law Com No 164, 1987).
  • David Hayton. (2012) 'The development of equity and "good person" philosophy in common law systems', in Conveyancer and Property Lawyer. vol. 4, pp.263-273
  • Stevens, John. (1996) 'Finder Weepers - Landowners Keepers', in Conveyancer and Property Lawyer. (May/June) , pp.216-222
  • Kevin Gray; Susan Francis Gray. (2008, 1998) 'The Idea of Property in Land', in Land law: themes and perspectives, New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Dixon, Martin. (2018) 'Freehold Covenants', in Modern land law, Abingdon: Routledge., pp.332-364
  • Cowan, David; Fox O'Mahony, Lorna; Cobb, Neil. (2016) 'Themes of Property', in Great Debates in Land Law, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan., pp.1-22
  • (no date) Kingsnorth Finance Co Ltd v Tizard [1986] 1 WLR 783 (Ch).
  • (no date) National Provincial Bank Ltd v Ainsworth [1965] AC 1175, HL.
  • Edwards, Richard; Stockwell, Nigel. (2015) Trusts and equity, Harlow: Pearson.
  • Jill Morgan. (2013) 'Digging deep: property rights in subterranean space and the challenge of carbon capture and storage', in International & Comparative Law Quarterly. vol. 62 (4) , pp.813-837
  • Lisa Webley. (2016) 'Essay Writing', in Legal Writing, London: Taylor & Francis Ltd., pp.15-37
  • (no date) JA Pye (Oxford) Ltd v Graham [2002] UKHL 30, [2003] 1 AC 419.
  • (no date) Victoria Park Racing and Recreation Grounds Company Ltd v Taylor (1937), 58 CLR 479-527.
  • (no date) Jaggard v Sawyer [1995] 1 WLR 269, [1995] 2 All ER 189 (CA Civ).
  • Hudson, Alistair. (2014) 'The nature of equity', in Great Debates in Equity and Trusts, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan., pp.9-28
  • Edwards, Richard; Stockwell, Nigel. (2015) 'Growth of equity and the evolution of the trust', in Trusts and equity, Harlow: Pearson., pp.6-47
  • Ben McFarlane. (2008) Structure of Property Law, Oxford: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC.
  • Bray, Judith. (2013) 'The law on treasure from a land lawyer's perspective', in Conveyancer and Property Lawyer. (4) , pp.265-279
  • (no date) Loose v Lynn Shell Fish Ltd (2016), [2017] AC 599 (UKSC).
  • Michael G. Bridge. (2015) 'Property rights and classes of property', in Personal property law, Oxford: Oxford University Press., pp.1-27
  • Harpum, Charles. (2000) Does Feudalism Have a Role in 21st Century Land Law?. (23) , pp.21-25
  • (no date) Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs v Meier and others [2009] UKSC 11, [2009] 1 WLR 2780.
  • Peter Luther. (2004) 'Fixtures and Chattels: A Question of More or Less..', in Oxford Journal of Legal Studies. vol. 24 (4) , pp.597-618
  • Pamela O'Connor. (2011) 'Careful what you wish for: positive freehold covenants', in Conveyancer and Property Lawyer. (3) , pp.191-207
  • Steve Evans. (no date) 'Should professionally drafted half-secret trusts be extinct after Larke v Nugus?', in The Conveyancer and Property Lawyer: 2014. vol. 3, pp.229-236
  • (no date) Bocardo SA v Star Energy UK Onshore Ltd and another (Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change intervening) [2010] UKSC 35, [2011] 1 AC 380.
  • Ildajica, Martin. (2016) 'Is a sculpture "land"?', in Conveyancer and Property Lawyer. (3) , pp.242-
  • (no date) Ottaway v Norman [1972] Ch 698, [1972] 2 WLR 50.

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 Multiple Choice Questions 5%
Coursework Participation 10%
Coursework Summative Essay 85%

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Ed Mitchell, Dr Matt Stone, Dr Sam Davey
Law General Office - lawugadmin@essex.ac.uk



External examiner

Dr Robin William John Hickey
The Queen's University of Belfast
Senior Lecturer
Available via Moodle
Of 720 hours, 720 (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)

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