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, Other UCL Masters students
Prerequisites: None
Barred module combinations: None
Core module for specialism: European Union Law, International Commercial Law
Practice Assessment: Practice essay
Assessment method for Masters students: 3,000 word coursework essay
Module Overview

Module summary

The development of private law by the EU institutions is a hugely significant phenomenon and has been the subject of much debate. The dynamic and non-linear trajectory of the EU’s private law project is at times difficult to keep abreast with, but its ambiguity and unpredictability speaks volumes about the political, theoretical and legal stakes involved. Emerging originally as a series of rather unexciting, seemingly non-contentious Directives, the EU has extended (some would say overextended) the project to encompass a much broader campaign of private law harmonisation, embodied by instruments such as the Draft Common Frame of Reference and the proposal for a Common European Sales Law. The debate has even flirted around the issue of a European Civil Code.

The object of the course is not to undertake a detailed examination of the substantive rules of European private law that have emerged, 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 impact of globalisation on private law, 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 inspire the proponents of a European Civil Code and why such a form of harmonisations is so strongly resisted by others. Does (private) law have special linkages to the nation state? Does a nation’s law reflect its culture? In addition, we will assess the constitutional anchorage of the EU’s private law instruments by examining the legitimacy of economic (market integrative) justifications for a European contract law. Simply put, does the EU have the competence to match its ambitions? Finally, we will consider whether EU contract law satisfies the demands of ‘social justice’ and, more broadly, whether such a role even belongs to private law.

In an interdependent world with a plurality of law-producing sites, do we need to rethink what we mean by ‘law’ and the way that legal ‘systems’ interact with each other? Do new methods of governance mean that we need to refashion our benchmarks for assessing law’s legitimacy? It is hoped that through the vehicle of private law students will gain insight into some of the key challenges for law in the 21st century.

Module syllabus

Principal themes of the course:

• Globalisation and (private) law
• What is European private law?
• Private Law ‘beyond the state’
• The EU and its private Law programme: from its genesis to a period of deeper Europeanisation
• Exploring the cultural embeddedness of law.
• The phenomenon of codification
• Social Justice and private Law
• 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.