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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Undergraduate Course: Succession Law (LAWS10242)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Law CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis is an advanced course on the Scots law of succession which builds on Succession and Trust Law (Ordinary) (LAWS08130).

The course considers in depth the doctrinal elements of the Scots law of succession, assessed in the light of the policy debates underpinning the current law and the ongoing programme of succession law reform in Scotland. The course also draws upon comparative materials (predominantly from other Commonwealth jurisdictions) to explore and assess the law of succession in Scotland.
Course description The course centres on the core elements of law of succession in Scotland. An indicative list of seminar topics is:

1. Introduction
2. Intestacy: tension between spousal and children's rights;
3. Intestacy: separated and second spouses;
4. Intestacy: fixed rights or discretion (1) - cohabitants;
5. Intestacy: fixed rights or discretion (2) - stepchildren;
6. Testate succession: formalities and protections;
7. Testate succession: limitations on freedom of testation;
8. Testate succession: subsequent birth of children to the testator;
9. Forfeiture and the unworthy heir;
10. Human rights, death and the body.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Scottish Legal System (LAWS08128) AND Succession and Trust Law (LAWS08130)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. A detailed knowledge of the law pertaining to testamentary formalities, testate and intestate succession, forfeiture and death, and disposal of the body in Scottish law;
  2. An understanding of the competing policy arguments relevant to the people affected by the law of succession;
  3. An understanding of the ongoing programme of reform of Scottish succession law and the debates surrounding the appropriate principles informing it;
  4. A comparative understanding of the legal treatment of these questions in other selected jurisdictions.
Reading List
Preliminary reading

GL Gretton and AJM Steven, Property, Trusts and Succession (4th edn, 2021).

Reference works

D Bartos, Bartos and Mestion on The Succession (Scotland) Act 1964 (6th edn, 2015);
DR Macdonald, Succession (3rd edn, 2001);
H Hiram, The Law of Succession (2nd edn, 2007).

Works on succession policy and reform

Report on Succession (Scot Law Com No 215, 2009);
Report on Trust Law (Scot Law Com No 239, 2014).

Both are available at
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Experience of independent research into a range of source materials;
The opportunity to reflect upon matters of contested public policy and applicable values as students form their own arguments.
Experience of identifying and synthesising key points from complex information.
Experience of developing oral communication of complex ideas and arguments
Experience of communicating complex ideas and arguments in writing.
Experience of prioritising source materials and use of time;
Experience of planning a research strategy and to effectively using resources to prepare contributions to class and assessments;
Experiences of taking constructive feedback and criticism.
Experience of standard academic skills such as word processing, accessing electronic readings, making electronic searches, and using online platforms.
Course organiserDr Daniel Carr
Course secretaryMrs Suzanne Strath
Tel: (0131 6)517000
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