LLM Programme

The taught modules offered on the LLM programme vary from year to year. Please check the full list of taught modules list for details of modules running in specific academic years. We make every effort to ensure that every module will be offered, but modules are subject to change and cancellation. You are therefore advised to check this site regularly for further updates throughout the year preceding entry to the LLM programme.

Credit value: 15 credits (6 ECTS)
Module Convenor:
Dr Lucinda Miller
Intercollegiate teaching: No
Teaching Method: 10 x two-hour seminars
Who may enrol: LLM students, SIL students, Other UCL Masters students
Prerequisites: None
Barred module combinations:
Core module for specialism: European Union Law, International Commercial Law
Practice Assessment: practice essay
Assessment method for Masters students: 3,000 word coursework essay
Assessment method for SIL students: 3,000 word coursework essay
Module Overview

Module summary

The development of private law by the EU is a hugely significant phenomenon and has attracted much critique. The EU’s programme initially emerged through discrete (consumer orientated) Directives which were constitutionally and economically justified as tools for facilitating the functioning of the internal market. However, in the field of contract law, this market-integrative rationale has been extended (some would say overextended) to spearhead a much broader, horizontal campaign of private law harmonisation through tools such as the DCFR (the Draft Common Frame of Reference) and the proposed CESL (Common European Sales Law). There has also been debate on the possibility of an eventual ‘European Civil Code’.
The object of the course is not so much detailed examination of the substantive rules of European private law, but rather to critique the EU’s private law programme from political, economic and theoretical perspectives. With this aim, we will explore such things as the theoretical and political significance of private law creation ‘beyond the state’ and the linkages with the broader phenomenon of transnational private regulation (lex mercatoria). We will examine the political motivations that might underpin the promotion of a European contract law (e.g. state building?) as well as its refutation (e.g. nationalism?); the legitimacy of economic (market integrative) justifications for a European contract law and the impact on EU competence; the extent to which EU contract law satisfies the demands of ‘social justice’ and, finally whether traditional governance mechanisms are appropriate for the multi-level European private law.

Module syllabus

Principal themes of the course:

  • Europeanisation and the Nature of European Private Law
    • What is Europeanisation?
    • Private Law ‘beyond the State’
    • Rethinking the notion of private law
  • The EU and Contract Law
    • The contract law acquis
    • Harmonisation by Directives: further fragmentation
  • 2001 and beyond: DCFR and CESL
    • A Critique: Legitimacy of EU Contract Law
    • Nation state building through private law?
    • Competence and the EU Treaties
    • Economic considerations
    • Social Justice and EU contract law
  • The Governance of Private Law in Europe
    • How to deal with pluralism: new modes of governance

Recommended materials

There is no ‘set text’ for this module. Students will be given a selection of readings from books and journals, which will be accessible via moodle (our virtual learning platform). However, many seminar readings will be taken from the following:

L. Miller, The Emergence of EU Contract Law: Exploring Europeanization (OUP 2011)
R. Brownsword, H,-W. Micklitz, L. Niglia and S. Weatherill (eds) The Foundations of European Private Law (Hart, 2011)
L. Niglia (ed.) Pluralism and European Private Law (Hart, 2013)

The academic journals most frequently referred to will be:
European Law Journal
European Review of Private Law
European Review of Contract Law
Common Market Law Review
Modern Law Review

Preliminary reading

R. Michaels and N. Jansen, ’Private Law Beyond the State: Europeanization, Globalization, Privatization’ (2006) 54 American Journal of Comparative Law 843.

Other information:

The course will run as a weekly two-hour seminar. Students will be expected to familiarise themselves with the weekly topic in advance in order to contribute to the seminars through discussion.

Prizes for this module: There are currently no prizes available for this module.


The application process for the 2015-16 academic session is now open.

Please note, for the 2015-16 intake, we are not accepting the TOEFL test. If you have an English condition to meet, you must take one of the alternative tests listed here instead.