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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Undergraduate Course: Property Theory: Foundations and Applications (LAWS10250)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Law CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course will consider property law from a theoretical and conceptual perspective. Students will gain an understanding of the nature of property rights and the justifications which have been put forward for property as an institution. In the second half of the course, students will gain an understanding of how the principles and concepts of property can be applied to asset classes which differ from the paradigm corporeal objects of property, e.g. property in money, mixtures, and digital assets.

The course will not restrict coverage to how these theoretical and conceptual issues have been applied in particular existing legal systems. It will have regard for the application of general property theory to legal problems in the Scots, civil law and common law traditions. It would aim to analyse the distinctive concepts of Scots property law in terms of theoretical explanations developed in other legal traditions.
Course description Seminar 1 ¿ Justifications for Property 1 (Historical perspectives)
Seminar 2 ¿ Justifications for Property 2 (Modern perspectives)
Seminar 3 ¿ What distinguishes ¿Property¿ rights from other types of right?
Seminar 4 ¿ What are the objects of ¿Property¿?
Seminar 5 ¿ The conceptual vocabulary of Property: corporeality, rivalrousness, specificity

Seminar 6 ¿ Money as property
Seminar 7 - Mixtures of property
Seminar 8 ¿ Digital assets as tradeable property
Seminar 9 ¿ Data and information as property
Seminar 10 ¿ Constructing property markets to protect the environment
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Property Law (Ordinary) (LAWS08133) AND Succession and Trust Law (LAWS08130)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Spaces on this course are allocated as part of the Law Honours Course Allocation process. Places are generally only available to students who must take Law courses. To request a space on this course, please email
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. critically understand the core principles and debates surrounding the nature of property rights, their justification and their application;
  2. Gain a sharper appreciation of how property theories developed in other systems might apply to concepts of Scots property law;
  3. Gain experience of thinking creatively and rigorously about existing property doctrine, with a view to understanding its institutional rationale and its proper range of application;
  4. Gain experience of the limitations of property as an appropriate legal institution for regulating emerging areas of social and commercial activity.
Reading List
There will be no set text for this course, but reading lists are likely to include:

¿ G Alexander & E Penalver, An Introduction to Property Theory (2012)
¿ J Dalrymple, Viscount Stair, Institutions of the Law of Scotland (2nd edn, 1693)
¿ D Fox, Property Rights in Money (2008)
¿ G L Gretton, ¿Ownership and its objects¿ (2007) 71 RabelsZ 802-851
¿ W Hohfeld (edited by WW Cook), Fundamental Legal Conceptions as Applied in Judicial Reasoning (1923)
¿ A M Honoré, ¿Ownership¿ in AG Guest (ed), Oxford Essays in Jurisprudence (1961)
¿ J Harris, Property and Justice (1996)
¿ D Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature
¿ J Locke, Two Treatises of Government
¿ AJ MacLeod, Property and Practical Reason (2015)
¿ B MacFarlane, The Structure of Property Law (2008)
¿ S Munzer, A Theory of Property (1990)
¿ J Penner & H Smith, Philosophical foundations of property law (2014)
¿ J E Penner, The idea of property in law (1997)
¿ J E Penner, Property Rights: a re-examination (2020)
¿ A Peterson, Prescriptive Servitudes (2020), chapter 6 (possession of rights)
¿ S Pufendorf, On the Duty of Man and Citizen According to Natural Law (1673)
¿ M J Radin, Reinterpreting Property (1996)
¿ J Singer, Entitlement (2000)
¿ UKJT, Legal Statement on Digital Assets and Smart Contracts (2019)
¿ A van der Walt, Property in the Margins (2009)

Journal articles and book chapters will be the primary assigned reading for this course. All the primary reading sources are available online. The library already holds a subscription to all of the relevant journal titles.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills ¿ Students will develop the skills of working independently in the critical analysis of legal and theoretical materials.
¿ They will become familiar with relevant literature in this field and will consider how to relate these perspectives to the primary case law and statutory sources they are familiar with from doctrinal courses.
¿ Students will learn to make judgments where information is limited or comes from a range of sources, some of which may be drawn from outside the law.
¿ Students will gain experience of the personal and intellectual self-confidence needed to work in areas where disruptive social and commercial change cause fundamental legal uncertainty.
¿ Students will gain experience of developing complex legal ideas through participatory class discussion and extended writing. They will take responsibility for presenting their ideas in a way that is understandable, informative and engaging to their peers.
¿ Working under guidance from their class teachers, students will take a professional responsibility for the quality of their own work and for the collective learning of the class group.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Alasdair Peterson
Tel: (0131 6)50 2008
Course secretaryMiss Susie Morgan
Tel: (0131 6)50 2339
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