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Adult Relations (Senior Status)


  • Credit value: 15 credits at Level 7
  • Convenor and tutor: Professor Daniel Monk
  • Assessment: a 4000-word essay (100%)

Module description

Adult relations is a dynamic subject that directly or indirectly impacts on all our lives. On this module we ask 'what is a family?' and 'what personal/private relationships should the State recognise (and why?)'.

In answering these questions we will look at controversial debates about shifting definitions of marriage; how the law should treat divorcing or separating couples; the rationale for treating married couples differently from those that cohabit, domestic violence and familial disputes arising on death.

You will achieve not only a sound knowledge of the legal framework governing the family but also a good grasp of the sociological context in which the legal questions arise. We will focus on what happens in practice as well as what should happen in theory.

Indicative module syllabus

  • Recognising ‘Families’
  • Marriage I and II
  • Civil Partnership/Same-Sex Marriage
  • Divorce
  • Property on Divorce
  • Cohabitation
  • Domestic Violence
  • Inheritance Disputes
  • Essay Guidance

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will:

  • demonstrate knowledge and nuanced understanding of the key legal concepts, values, principles underlying the adult related aspects of family law
  • be able to critically appraise the key aspects of the law about the institution of marriage
  • be able to identify and critically engage with the political, social and cultural factors that inform and underlie this area of law
  • be aware of the problems, tensions and contradictions underlying contemporary debates about the family and the role of law in regulating and defining it.