About this Course
The Common Law of England and Wales is one of the major global legal traditions. In order to understand the common law, we need to deal with its history, and the development of its characteristic institutions like the jury, judge made law, parliamentary sovereignty and due process. We also need to ask some critical questions. What role does democracy play in the development of the common law? To what extent are human rights central to the modern common law? How does the common law of England and Wales relate to the law of the European Union? Answering these questions will give us insights into the current challenges the law faces and its possible futures.

100% online courses

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.

Approx. 14 hours to complete

Suggested: 5 hours/week
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Subtitles: English

100% online courses

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.

Approx. 14 hours to complete

Suggested: 5 hours/week
Comment Dots


Subtitles: English

Syllabus - What you will learn from this course


2 hours to complete

Week One: Dead Kings and Presidents: A Brief History of the Common Law

Week one introduces you to the history of the Common Law, from armies and kings through to modern family life. We will journey through the evolution of the Common Law to the system we see today. By the end of this week, hopefully you'll understand more about: 1. Understand some of the process involved in the Justice System 2. Understand the history of the development of the common law. ...
9 videos (Total 66 min), 4 readings, 1 quiz
Video9 videos
An Introduction3m
The History of the Common Law11m
After the Civil War10m
Fairness in the Common Law 2m
Due Process 8m
Learning the Common Law 6m
What is a case? 4m
A Common Thread in the Common Law 16m
Reading4 readings
Start here10m
Introduction to the course10m
About Professor Gearey10m
Language help10m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Week 1 Exam10m


1 hour to complete

Week Two: See You In Court: The Court System and the Common Law

Welcome to week 2 of English Common Law. Learning outcomes this week: 1. Describe the Hierarchy of the UK Courts, the Judges who sit there and their Judicial role...
6 videos (Total 29 min), 1 quiz
Video6 videos
An Introduction to the courts 5m
The Civil Courts 4m
The Criminal Courts 2m
The Supreme Court 7m
Precedent : How Courts influence each other 8m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Week 2 Exam10m


1 hour to complete

Week Three: Supreme Power: Parliamentary Sovereignty and Law Making

Welcome to week 3 of English Common Law. Learning outcomes this week: 1. Explain the concept of Parliamentary Sovereignty 2. Describe the journey of a Bill...
12 videos (Total 79 min), 1 quiz
Video12 videos
From Putney to Parliament 1m
Where does the Law come from? 9m
Statutes : the rise of Parliament 10m
The Powers of Parliament 9m
Parliament and Europe 9m
Human rights come home 10m
Judges and Parliament 16m
What is the House of Commons 0m
What is the House of Lords 0m
What is the Separation of Powers 2m
The Passage of a Bill5m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Week 3 Exam10m


1 hour to complete

Week Four: Wigs and Pens: Judicial Law Making and the doctrine of Precedent

Welcome to week 4 of English Common Law. Learning Outcomes this week: 1. Explain the Court Hierarchy in relation to precedent 2. Identify ways in which precedent may be avoided 3. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of precedent...
9 videos (Total 65 min), 1 quiz
Video9 videos
What is Precedent9m
How is precedent implemented? 8m
Precedent - Post 1966 12m
When precedent doesn't bind 7m
When precedent shouldn't bind 9m
Are judges making law 7m
The Common Law, Human Rights and Judges 5m
The European Courts and precedent 5m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Week 4 Exam10m


1 hour to complete

Week Five: Reading the Riot Act: How Statutes are Interpreted

Welcome to week 5 of English Common Law. Learning Outcomes this week: 1. Explain the role of Judges in interpreting the law 2. Compare the rules of interpretation and identify the rules of language...
9 videos (Total 66 min), 1 quiz
Video9 videos
How laws are interpreted 9m
How Judges read laws 8m
Presumptions 3m
The case of Pepper V Hart 9m
The case of Bulmer V Bollinger 7m
New methods of interpretation 9m
Cultural changes in interpretation 5m
Interpretation and the human rights act 10m
Quiz1 practice exercises
Week 5 Exam10m


2 hours to complete

Week Six: After the War, Before the Peace: The European Union and Human Rights

Welcome to week 6 of English Common Law. Learning Outcomes: 1. Explain the effect of the European Communities Act 1972 on Parliamentary Sovereignty 2. Identify the effect on precedent and statutory interpretation 3. Discuss the effect of the Human Rights Act 1998 ...
14 videos (Total 68 min), 3 quizzes
Video14 videos
The roots of the European Union 6m
Fundamental rights 6m
The Values of the European Union 3m
The Common heritage 4m
Institutions of the EU 4m
EU Law 5m
The European Convention of Human Rights 13m
The rights of man and human rights 3m
The Rights in the Convention 9m
The Structure of a right 4m
The right to life 2m
The right to freedom of assembly and association 3m
Goodbye and Good Luck0m
Quiz3 practice exercises
Week 6 Exam10m
End of course exam: Acts of Parliament Exam20m
End of course exam: Dealing with a case Exam20m
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Top Reviews

By ECApr 27th 2017

A first class course; interesting and enjoyable. Thought provoking content, which was logically, enthusiastically, and professionally delivered. The method of testing was imaginative and stretching.

By SOct 19th 2016

A very well-designed short-term course. Served my purpose in exploring the English Common Law and the English Court system. Thanks to Prof. Gearey for putting together this wonderful presentation.



Professor Adam Gearey

Professor of Law

About University of London

The University of London is a federal University which includes 18 world leading Colleges. Our distance learning programmes were founded in 1858 and have enriched the lives of thousands of students, delivering high quality University of London degrees wherever our students are across the globe. Our alumni include 7 Nobel Prize winners. Today, we are a global leader in distance and flexible study, offering degree programmes to over 50,000 students in over 180 countries. To find out more about studying for one of our degrees where you are, visit www.london.ac.uk...

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