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: 30 credits (12 ECTS)
Module Convenor:
Professor Robert Chambers
Other Teachers:
Professor Ben McFarlane


This module is a study of the use of trusts in the modern world of private estate planning and commercial transactions. Part I of the module covers the modern law of private trusts, that is, the use of the trust in managing family wealth, with particular emphasis on developments in the ‘offshore world’. Part II covers the use of the trust in a variety of commercial transactions. Part III is an exploration of the conceptual nature of the trust and the way in which it does or does not form a coherent part of the law of property, or the law of obligations, or both.

By the end of the module, students should have:

  1. a solid understanding of the way that the trust device is used to manage family wealth and the various functions it may perform, such as to avoid probate or protect assets;
  2. a solid grasp of the issues that arise in respect of controlling trustee discretions, the rights of the objects of trusts, and the questions surrounding purpose trusts;
  3. a solid understanding of the use of trusts in several important kinds of commercial transaction, and the differences that may exist between the rights, powers, and duties of trustees of commercial trusts as opposed to their family trust counterparts;
  4. a sophisticated appreciation of the conceptual questions raised by the trust and the different ways in which those questions have been addressed.


The Modern Law of Private Trusts

  • Trusts and Powers
  • Control of Trustees’ Discretions
  • Irreducible Core Elements of an Express Trust
  • Purpose Trusts
  • Protectors
  • Letters of Wishes
  • Nominees and Shams
  • Asset Protection Trusts
  • Trusts in Private International Law

Trusts in Commercial Transactions

  • Equitable Assignments and Charges
  • Quistclose Trusts and Creditor Trusts
  • Bonds and Bond Trustees
  • Trusts in Asset Securitisation
  • Pension Fund Trusts and Trustees
  • Constructive Trusts

The Conceptual Nature of the Trust

  • Trusts and Equity
  • Liability of Trustees and Recipients
  • Significance of Tracing

Background Reading (optional):

For students who have not studied trusts before, or who have but feel a bit rusty on the subject, the first three chapters of JE Penner, The Law of Trusts (9th edn OUP Oxford 2014) are recommended. The 7th or 8th edition of this book would also be suitable. There is no textbook that covers the entire module, but Penner provides useful background reading for many course topics.

Module reading lists and other module materials will be provided via online module pages, once students have made their module selections upon enrolment in September.

Delivery and enrolment
Lectures/Seminars: 20 x two-hour seminars
Tutorials: None
Previous module enrolments: Medium (16-50 students)
Who may enrol: LLM students, other UCL Masters students
Prerequisities: None
Barred module combinations: This module cannot be taken with the half-module LAWSG134A
Core Module for LLM specialism: International Banking and Finance Law, International Commercial Law
Final Assessment: 8-hour unseen take-home written examination (max 6,000 words)
Practice Assessment: T ake-home examination in December
Other Information
Prizes: Pump Court Tax Chambers Prize

This page was last updated on 24 July, 2014


The application process for the 2014-15 academic session, for entry in September 2014, is now closed.

Information regarding applications for September 2015 will be updated on the website in September 2014.

IMPORTANT NOTICE : Updated 28 May 2014

The Home Office issued an update about the acceptance of ETS tests (including TOEFL). They have now confirmed that Higher Education students applying for a Tier 4 visa may use a TOEFL test taken after 17 April, if a Higher Education Institution is willing to use its academic discretion. For those students entering in September 2014, UCL will continue to accept the TOEFL even if it was taken after 17 April. However, if an applicant still needs to book a test then we recommend that they take an alternative test to TOEFL. Those who have already arranged to take a different test following the previous advice from the Home Office, we encourage you to go ahead with taking the alternative test.

The TOEFL test will continue to be accepted for 2014 entrants who have been asked to take an English language qualification as part of their offer condition, and do not need to apply for a visa to study in the UK.