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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 introduces students to key issues in the fast-paced area of technology law. We will consider a wide variety of hard regulatory questions posed by impacts of emerging information technologies. These systems are often changing, adapting, and shifting, meaning regulation in this domain does too. This creates a policy and legal landscape that is often in a state of flux but also gives us a wide range of case studies, examples, and legal frameworks to consider in this course.

Each week we will explore and analyse interesting questions about the socio-technical risks and harms posed by specific new technologies, the merits and demerits of different regulatory strategies, and the role law plays in shaping how these technologies impact our everyday lives.

The course engages with fundamental questions around how to regulate IT from ongoing debates over the past 25 years, since the inception of the field, through to cutting edge concerns.

The course brings together perspectives from a wide variety of areas of law including intellectual property, privacy, and data protection. It also explores a variety of jurisdictions, particularly UK, EU, and international levels. The course also situates these legal debates in their wider social context by introducing students to socio-legal, technical, sociological, and design aspects of information technologies.

We will cover cutting edge areas including online mediated work in the gig economy; governing machine learning and artificial intelligence systems; online platform liability and content moderation; data protection and privacy aspects of web and smart technologies such as smart homes; the role of cloud and edge computing; and strategies for addressing cybercrime + cybersecurity.
Course description Course descriptor (given the fast paced nature of IT Law, these topics may be subject to some change).

Week 1: Introduction to Information Technology Law
Week 2: Regulating the Online Environment
Week 3: Regulating the Gig Economy
Week 4: Platform and Intermediary Liability
Week 5: Law and Ethics of AI and Machine Learning
Mid-semester break
Week 6: Copyright Online
Week 7: Cybersecurity and Cybercrime
Week 8: Online Privacy 1: The Law and Web Technologies
Week 9: Online privacy 2: The Law and Smart Technologies
Week 10: Cloud and Edge Computing

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  30
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 4,000-word essay (80%); and one coursework assignment (20%).

The details of these course assessments will be provided to students at the start of each semester. Students will have an opportunity to complete a piece of non-examined formative feedback too.
Feedback Students will have the opportunity to obtain formative feedback over the course of the semester. The feedback provided will assist students in their preparation for the summative assessment.

Details of the School's feedback policy will be available at the start of the course.
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
The nature of readings in this course draws together literature from across computing and legal scholarship. It is updated regularly as this is a fast paced area of law. Some primer textbooks we engage with include Edwards, L (2018) Law, Policy and the Internet. Hart Publishing and Andrew Murray┬┐s Information Technology Law: The Law and Society.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills By the end of this course, you will be able to:

- Be familiar with basic principles, sources and arguments relating to the regulation of information technologies;
- Have formed critical views on the impact of existing legal principles on information technologies;
- Have formed critical views on the extent to which new regulatory approaches should be developed to address and manage the consequences of new information technologies; and
- Be able to express and defend these views in oral discussion and in writing.

The aims of this course are to:

- Explore the wealth of legal issues associated with the emergence of new information technologies.
- Consider the wider socio-technical, social, and design contexts that intersect with legal aspects of IT.
- Examine the range of regulatory challenges raised through a series of contemporary use cases.
- Evaluate the adequacy of existing national, regional, international regulatory responses.
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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