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Property and Technology


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 7
  • Convenor: Henrique Carvalho
  • Tutor: Bernard Keenan
  • Assessment: a 4000-word summative essay (95%) and online participation in group work and discussion (5%)

Module description

This module offers you opportunities for reflection on the relationship between property and technology as well as providing the tools to develop a detailed understanding of various property regimes (land, personal property, intellectual property and related rights) and new technologies (biotechnology, digital technology and artificial intelligence). The various sessions will use legal materials (cases, legislation, doctrine) as archives that help trace the processes through which different subject matters have been conceived, imagined and contested as things.

Indicative module syllabus

  • Owning technology: brief introduction to intellectual property
  • Technologies of ownership: registration
  • Technologies of ownership: enforcement
  • Owning life: plants
  • Owning life: genes
  • Owning life: stem cells
  • Owning ideas: software
  • Owning affects: brands
  • Owning creativity: hired hands, ghost writers and artificial intelligence
  • Contested commodities

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • demonstrate strong familiarity with doctrinal aspects of at least one specialised area of property law
  • demonstrate systematic awareness of contemporary issues, controversies and debates relating to contested aspects of property law
  • analyse the conceptual building blocks of various regimes of private property
  • identify the techniques through which the law constructs and imagines its own objects
  • evaluate the generative potential as well as shortcomings of various methodological frames when applied to concrete aspects of property law
  • situate original research within the existing body of literature.