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Law and Economics

Module description

This module is planned to introduce you to law and legal institutions. The course will study the economic analysis of law. The focus will be on civil law however a few lectures will examine economic aspects of criminal law. A particular feature is the major topic on intellectual property rights. This is a relatively new area of economics and should be of topical relevance. Environmental damage is often caused by accidents for instance in the BP Deep-water Horizon oil-spill. There will be a topic on tort. This is the relevant part of law, which aims to provide incentive to correct externalities associated with accidents and environmental damage. Other topics to be studied include contract law, corporate law and governance.

The intended audience is third year students on economics degrees. The course is not intended for non-specialists.


Additional Information:


An appropriate legal framework can help to resolve many environmental problems.  A prime example being the tragedy of the commons. 



Many of our students’ jobs will involve law.  Thus, understanding of the economic aspects of law will help employability.


Ethics and Corporate Responsibility

Appropriate design of company law will encourage ethical behaviour in the corporate world.


Research in Teaching

The course will be informed by research Prof Kelsey is undertaking in law and economics.


The assessment structure on this module is subject to review and may change before the start of the new academic year. Any changes will be clearly communicated to you before the start of term and if you wish to change module because of this you can do so in the module change window.

Full module specification

Module title:Law and Economics
Module code:BEE3019
Module level:3
Academic year:2023/4
Module lecturers:
  • Dr Surajeet Chakravarty - Lecturer
Module credit:15
ECTS value:



BEE2025 OR BEE2038



Duration of module: Duration (weeks) - term 1:


Duration (weeks) - term 2:


Duration (weeks) - term 3:


Module aims

The module aims to enable you to understand key topics in the economic analysis of law. These include law of property, tort law, contract law, deterrence of crime and intellectual property rights. The course will develop skills such as problem solving and essay writing.

It is complementary with the research interests of the economics department, which specialises in risk and uncertainty.  It will draw on the research expertise of faculty, especially Dr Chakravarty who has a doctorate in the area.

The course is relevant for employment since law is now an important aspect of many careers.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. recognise what has been popularly studied in the area of Law and Economics
  • 2. identify those key terms and concepts in Law and Economics, which lead to an understanding of legal issues and institutions.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. analyse and compare microeconomics with legal issues and institutions

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 4. deliver coherent argument in written work, including coherent arguments for complex issues involving economic analysis of legal issues such as property rights, liability or contracts.
  • 5. demonstrate analytical and critical thinking

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Contact hours22Lectures (11 x 2 hour)
Contact hours5Seminars (5 x 1 hour)
Guided independent study128Reading, problem solving and essay preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Problem Sheets2 hours1-5Discussions in class

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay302000 words1-5Written
Exam702 hours1-5Notes on ELE

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay (30%) (2000 words)1-5July/August Re-assessment period
ExamExam (70%) (2 hours)1-5August examination period

Syllabus plan

  • Property Rights - The Coase theorem, the tragedy of the commons
  • Intellectual Property Rights: Patents, copyright, and trade secrets
  • Corporate Law and Governance
  • Tort Law - Strict Liability, Negligence, Unilateral versus Bilateral accidents, Risk aversion and insurance
  • Contract Law
  • Behavioural Law and Economics
  • Health, Safety and Environmental Risks

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:      

  • Cooter and Ulen,  (2012), Law and Economics, (6th edition), Pearson.
  • Posner, R., (2011), Economic Analysis of Law, (8th edition), Wolters Kluwer.
  • Shavell, Economic Analysis of Accident Law, Harvard, 1987.

Module has an active ELE page?


Origin date


Last revision date