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School of Law

Advanced Administrative Law

Course Code:
Unit value:
Year of study:
Year 3 of 3 or Year 4 of 4
Taught in:
Full Year

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

On successful completion of this course students should:

(1) have an advanced knowledge of the academic debate surrounding the application of administrative law;
(2) engage with the various academic debates in administrative law;
(3) be able to analyse both legal and political controls on governmental bodies and their decisions;
(4) be able to critically analyse the various control mechanisms on public power;
(5) have a clear understanding and provide a critique of the principles of judicial review;
(6) be able to apply these legal principles to sophisticated legal problems.

Scope and syllabus

This advanced course in administrative law is intended as a follow up to Public Law and is designed to provide a critical understanding of the extent and efficacy of the control of governmental power and standards of good administration in the United Kingdom.  The first term will be concerned to survey the functioning of the administrative state and administrative remedies in general while the second term will concentrate on the in-depth study of the principles of judicial review.  Where relevant the discussion will involve comparative reference to continental style codified systems of administrative law.

Topics covered are likely to include:

Term 1:  Administrative Law and the Administrative State

General introduction
Underlying themes of the course; the historical and political background; relationship between constitutional and administrative law

Administrative Law Theory
Debate concerning the balance judicial and parliamentary mechanisms; Red light and green light theory.

Administrative Law in Comparative Perspective
UK model and continental model compared

Modern Administrative State
(i) History of the administrative state
(ii) Institutions of administrative state
(iii) Contracting state: public law versus private law

The Role of Parliament
Relationship between parliamentary and other oversight mechanisms

Formal and Informal Remedies
Alternative Dispute Resolution/Citizens Charter

The Ombudsman Principle
The Parliamentary Ombudsman and other ombudsmen

Systematising Administrative Law
The role of tribunals and Inquiries

The Emergence of the Regulatory State
Introduction to law and regulation
Case studies: regulating public utilities, railways.

Term II: Judicial Review and the Role of the Courts

A substantial proportion of the course is devoted to the pivotal areas of judicial review. The concern is to both address the procedural issues which determine the reach of judicial review and to consider how the grounds of review have been developed in the courts.  

Judicial review procedure
Doctrines of ultra vires and  abuse of power, public/private law divide debate, locus standi.

Judicial remedies
Quashing orders, prohibiting orders, mandating orders, declaration, injunction, damages.

Limiting judicial remedies
Ouster and time limits, public interest immunity

Grounds of Review – Illegality - excess of power, improper purpose, relevant and irrelevant considerations, fettering discretion, policy cases, legitimate expectation, unlawful delegation, errors of fact and errors of law

Unreasonableness, Irrationality and proportionality
Wednesbury unreasonableness and proportionality compared as grounds of review

Human Rights as a ground of Judicial Review
application of the HRA to public bodies
vertical or horizontal effect
case law on HRA

Procedural impropriety and the rules of natural justice
procedural ultra vires: statutory requirements
the common law rules of natural justice
(i) right to a hearing
(ii) the rule against bias

Fit with Programmes

Administrative law is of particular importance for any students who wish to have a public law focus in a future legal career. Elements of administrative law are closely related to public law and human rights law and a secure knowledge of administrative law is crucial for anyone specialising in immigration law, local government law, social security law or housing law.


To provide a sound understanding of the sources, principles and application of administrative law on a general level and a more detailed knowledge of certain specialist topics.

Provide students with a knowledge and understanding of the evolving framework of legal and non legal constitutional obligations which apply between the state and the citizen and between different organs of government

Within that framework to enable students to acquire a knowledge of relevant case law and legislation and to develop an ability to interpret and analyze these.

To develop a critical understanding of the extent and efficiency of control on governmental bodies, in particular, the legitimacy and extent of parliamentary and judicial oversight mechanisms.

To provided students with the ability to apply legal principles to theoretical examples in order to draw conclusions and give advice to the citizen.

Method of assessment

Assessment weighting: 100% unseen examination.