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Foundations of Property


  • Credit value: 15 credits at Level 5
  • Convenor: Dr Sarah Keenan
  • Assessment: a 2500-word essay (100%)

Module description

In this module we give you a historically grounded introduction to key concepts in English property law. Beginning with the feudal origins of many of these concepts, we will examine how they have been developed, applied and modified throughout England’s transition from feudalism to capitalism, including the key role that legal experimentation in the colonies had in making land more alienable.

Indicative syllabus

  • Possessive derivative title and feudalism
  • The patriarchal family, primogeniture and coverture
  • Locke, enclosure and colonialism
  • Mabo v Queensland: ‘Native Title’ and Terra Nullius
  • The transatlantic slave trade and 1837 compensation
  • Title registration in the colonies (rise in alienability of colonial land 1)
  • Mortgages in the colonies (rise in alienability of colonial land 2)
  • Vagrancy, homelessness and property: the criminal law's historical role in property law
  • The move to registration in England and Wales
  • Cryptocurrency and value

Learning objectives

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

  • demonstrate knowledge of the feudal origins of English property law
  • understand key concepts in English property law including relativity of title, tenure and estates
  • convey knowledge of the historical role of equity in English land law
  • evaluate the role of the patriarchal family in English property law
  • evaluate the role of the British Empire in the development of English property law.