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Family Law - LAW00040H

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  • Department: The York Law School
  • Module co-ordinator: Ms. Mary-Jane Horgan
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21
    • See module specification for other years: 2019-20

Module summary

As well as giving students a good grounding in black letter law, the module aims to foster understanding of the social and policy issues which underpin the law, and also trends and developments. Family Law is a rapidly developing subject. It is also an area of law that deals with the trials and tribulations of the human condition. For these reasons it is a challenging, but fascinating, subject which is constantly in the news in some form or another.  

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2020-21

Module aims

This module seeks to provide students with an introduction to Family Law by both a theoretical and practical point of view. Students will examine issues including:

  • the concept of the family (what the law recognises as a family relationship and the extent to which the laws protections reflect wider social realities);
  • the formation and dissolution of marriages and civil partnerships;
  • entitlements to property during marriages and civil partnerships and following the breakdown of such relationships;
  • the role and status of children within family relationships;
  • the protection of persons within families from abuse;
  • procedures for resolving disputes within families both within and outside of the court system

In addition to identifying the law on the subject matters above, the module will involve the examination of theoretical literature (both within the law and more generally) to enable students to evaluate current laws and practices from a critical perspective.

Module learning outcomes

At the end of the module students will be able to demonstrate:

  • Understanding of how a family relationship is defined legally and what protections the law offers to a family so defined;
  • Understanding of the powers the courts have to control the property of family members and the principles under which those powers are exercised;
  • Understanding of how the welfare of children is promoted by laws and legal procedures;
  • The ability to evaluate the concept of the family and how it is protected or controlled by legal process;
  • The ability to describe and evaluate the use of court processes to protect the interests of family members.

Module content

This module introduces students to the main features of Family Law in England and Wales. It aims to provide students with knowledge and understanding of the various status relationships which exist (e.g. spouse, civil partner, cohabitant, parent) and of the consequences which flow from them. The module examines, in particular, the legal implications of family breakdown whether the parties are a married couple, civil partners or cohabitants, and whether or not they have children. The course considers not only the rights and responsibilities of family members but also the protective function of family law, in particular the law relating to domestic violence, child protection and the adjustment of property rights on relationship breakdown - whether the parties be spouses, civil partners, cohabitants or other home sharers. 


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Module feedback

Students will receive individual feedback on their assessments, plus overall generic feedback as a group.

Indicative reading

To  be provided during the course. 

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): changes to courses

The 2020/21 academic year will start in September. We aim to deliver as much face-to-face teaching as we can, supported by high quality online alternatives where we must.

Find details of the measures we're planning to protect our community.

Course changes for new students