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1. Introduction to Public Law

This module guide will explore the principles and theories of public law. It is also beneficial to have an understanding of the different political theories which underpin the different models of public law.

It is imperative that each section in this guide is learned, as many of the principles operate concurrently or interlink, and are better understood with knowledge of each section. Here is a breakdown of the main sections:

  • Constitutional Fundamentals – This module will touch upon constitutional institutions, their roles and conventions before exploring what a constitution is and providing a comprehensive comparison between a written and an unwritten constitution. There will also be an examination of the sources of the constitution.
  • The Rule of Law – This module will consider the history of the conception of the rule and its main aspects.
  • Parliamentary Sovereignty – This module will delve into the history of Parliamentary sovereignty before investigating its sources and theories.
  • The Royal Prerogative – This module will inspect the relationship between the monarch and Parliament.
  • Government & Accountability – This module will study the executive and public law powers, mechanisms for executive accountability and Parliamentary scrutiny of government.
  • Legislative Functions – This module will aim to clarify legislative functions, the different types of legislation and the role of the legislature.
  • The European Union – This module will explain the history of the European Union, European Union institutions and European Union law.
  • The Human Rights Act – This module will address what human rights are and how the Human Rights Act 1998 and the European Convention on Human Rights intertwine.
  • The Judiciary – This module will look at the structure of the judicial system and the role of the judiciary, as well as the separation of powers doctrine.
  • Judicial Review – This module will deal with the grounds for judicial review, the history of judicial review and the its effectiveness.
  • Administrative Justice – This module will analyse the system of tribunals and the role of ombudsmen.

What exactly is public law?

Public law affects several parts of our day to day lives; this includes, for example, immigration, health, the environment and education. In its most basic terms, the role of public law is to regulate the relationship between the state and individuals. In addition, public law refers to the state’s special powers to run the country; meaning its power to enforce, apply, implement, make, repeal and amend the law. This area of law is also often referred to as constitutional (the law which founds the state's key institutions and provides its framework) and administrative (the law which provides individual public authorities and bodies with their legal duties and power) law.

Why is public law important in today's society?

As there exists an unequal relationship of power between the state and individuals, public law is especially important because it provides checks and balances. This means that this area of law ensures that the government does not abuse its power over individuals and that they use their power in a fair and proper manner.


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