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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Postgraduate Course: Communications Law (LAWS11300)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Law CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityAvailable to all students
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) Credits20
Home subject areaLaw Other subject areaNone
Course website Taught in Gaelic?No
Course descriptionThis course covers the regulation of communications networks and services, from the early regulation of telegraph projects, through the regulation and liberalisation of telecommunications law over the course of the 20th century, to the present-day, EU-led system for electronic communications. Attention is paid to the major regulatory agencies, including domestic (Ofcom in the UK, the Federal Communications Commission in the US), European Union, and international (International Telecommunications Union). The course explores a range of legal and policy questions, including price control, social and universal service obligation, separation and new entry, technological neutrality (e.g. between wired and wireless), cross-border agreements, and consumer protection. The interaction between communications law and other forms of regulation (e.g. competition, media, trade) is explored, as are perspectives on the communications industries from other disciplines, particularly the relationship between law and innovation.

Through careful attention to the work of regulatory agencies and the way in which industry and stakeholders articulate their positions in relation to controversial legal and political issues, the practical elements of communications law are emphasised. This is situated in the context of due consideration of the history of communications law, as well as critical material from a number of jurisdictions. Students are encouraged to see how the high-level principles of legislation and major court decisions are used in practice, and how a wide range of regulatory strategies are adopted by states today.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed:
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Please contact the distance learning team at
Additional Costs Students should have regular and reliable access to the Internet.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesPlease contact the distance learning team at
Displayed in Visiting Students Prospectus?No
Course Delivery Information
Delivery period: 2013/14 Semester 1, Available to all students (SV1) Learn enabled:  No Quota:  None
Web Timetable Web Timetable
Course Start Date 16/09/2013
Breakdown of Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 40, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 156 )
Additional Notes
Breakdown of Assessment Methods (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
No Exam Information
Summary of Intended Learning Outcomes
By the end of the module students should:
1. have a deeper understanding of the legal issues arising in the communications industry (including user/consumer perspectives);
2. appreciate the limits on administrative action in the UK and elsewhere;
3. be able to engage in debate as to the type of regulatory measures appropriate for different forms of communication, and
4. comprehend the role of international law ("hard" and "soft") for this field.
Assessment Information
One essay of up to 4,000 words (60%); one individual assignment (20%); contribution to weekly online discussions throughout the semester (20%). Requirements for all module assessment will be outlined to students within the individual modules at the start of each semester.
Special Arrangements
This course is taught by distance learning.
Additional Information
Academic description Not entered
Syllabus 1. Communications and the law I
Early steps; Monopoly! Comparing AT&T and British Telecom; The introduction of limited competition and the early days of satellite

2. Communications and the law II
UK: duopoly, privatisation and mobile; US: breaking up AT&T; The rise of the economists

3. European Union I
Free movement of services and "unbundling"; Comparing regulation across the Union; Towards the New Regulatory Framework

4. EU II
Framework; Access; Interconnection

5. Consumers
Universal service; Transparency and pricing; The Roaming Regulation

6. International law
The role of the ITU; Spectrum; WTO Agreement

7. Internet
Top-down vs bottom-up; The rise of the engineers; Who controls?

8. The medium and the message
Premium rate services; Telecoms and broadcasting; Net neutrality

9. Competition today
"Switching"; Functional separation; Competition law or telecoms law?

10. The future
Next generation access; Current work at Ofcom; A global communications law?
Transferable skills Not entered
Reading list Not entered
Study Abroad Not entered
Study Pattern Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Daithi Mac Sithigh
Tel: (0131 6)50 9510
Course secretaryMs Clare Polson
Tel: (0131 6)51 4411
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