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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Postgraduate Course: The legal challenges of information technologies (LAWS11137)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Law CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course aims to deliver a challenging perspective on the wide range of legal questions posed by information technologies as they continue to develop; and to provide students with a fresh perspective on law and technologies and an appreciation of the extent to which legal questions must be viewed broadly.

After exploring different approaches to regulation and to the protection of rights in software, the course will then consider the ongoing relevance of intellectual property in cyberspace, including peer generated content illegal filesharing and enforcement, and liability for online content in the digital economy.The use of personal data for commercial purposes in the content of social media and other Web 2.0 services will be considered, together with other issues, like cryptocurrency and emoney and cloud computing.
Course description This course will:

» Explore the wide and disparate range of legal principles relevant to information technologies;
» investigate the extent to which existing theories of and approaches to regulation of information technologies are effective; and
» Assess the ongoing role of law in this field, in conjunction with the greater use of technological means control.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2022/23, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  25
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) The course will be assessed by one 80% essay (4000 words)
20% electronic assessment (student blog)
Feedback A formative exercise will be set at the midway stage of the course on which brief written feedback will be provided.

Feedback on the formative assessment may be provided in various formats, for example, to include written, oral, video, face-to-face, whole class, or individual. The course organiser will decide which format is most appropriate in relation to the nature of the assessment.

Feedback on both formative and summative in-course assessed work will be provided in time to be of use in subsequent assessments within the course.

Feedback on the summative assessment will be provided in written form via Learn, the University of Edinburgh's Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Form a view on the legal principles and perspectives which are relevant to information technologies.
  2. Evaluate the extent to which legal and political development takes these principles into account.
  3. Identify future areas for legal development.
  4. Critically assess the arguments of different interest groups in respect of the role of law in information technologies.
Reading List
We will consult a range of books, book chapters and articles, which will be available in the School of Law library or on e-Reserve. Use will also be made of online material, including journals, blogs and legislation.

An interesting overview of the field and other matters can be obtained from Lloyd I., Information Technology Law ((8th ed., OUP, 2017) and Savin A., EU Internet Law (2nd edn, Edward Elgar, 2017). Other general textbooks on IT law include A Murray, Information Technology Law: The Law and Society (3rd edn, OUP, Oxford 2016) and U Kohl and D Rowland, Information Technology Law (5th edn Routledge, Abingdon 2016).

Accessible histories of the technologies of the Internet include J Naughton, From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg : what you really need to know about the Internet (Quercus, London 2012) and H Abelson et al, Blown to bits: your life, liberty and happiness after the digital explosion (Pearson, Boston 2008« available as a free ebook at

A good introduction to regulatory theory as it applies to the Internet can be found in L Lessig, Code 2.0 (Basic Books, 2006, available as a free e-book at, C Reed, Making Laws for Cyberspace (OUP, 2012) and I Brown and C Marsden, Regulating Code (MIT Press 2013).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Students will develop their skills and abilities in:

1) Research and enquiry, through e.g. selecting and deploying appropriate research techniques;
2) Personal and intellectual autonomy, e.g. developing the ability to independently assess the relevance and importance of primary and secondary sources;
3) Communication, e.g. skills in summarising and communicating information and ideas effectively in oral and written form;
4) Personal effectiveness, e.g. working constructively as a member of a team in group activities;
5) Students will also develop their technical/practical skills, throughout the course, e.g. in articulating, evidencing and sustaining a line of argument, and engaging in a convincing critique of another's arguments.
Keywordsinformation technology,regulation,copyright in cyberspace,online privacy,cloud computing
Course organiserDr Lachlan Urquhart
Course secretaryMiss Bethan Walters
Tel: (0131 6)50 2386
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