Skip to main content

EU law

Module information>

Academic Direction
Laws Consortium
Modes of Study

This module will appeal to students who enjoy public law or who have an interest in public affairs, politics, economics or international relations.

EU law is one of the seven foundations of legal knowledge that, among other things, must be completed as part of your law degree if you want to fulfil the academic component of Bar training in England and Wales.

This module presents an overview of the basic features of the EU legal system: the history of European integration; the role of law and the treaty structure; the institutions and court system; the EU's competences and legislative process; the core legal principles of direct effect and supremacy. The module then goes on to focus on areas of substantive law. In particular, it considers the provisions on free movement of goods and workers, and the provisions on the freedom to provide services are thoroughly analysed with reference to the case law of the European Court of Justice and to relevant secondary legislation.

The module also examines the values and policies upon which the European constitutional architecture is founded, touching on issues such as: the protection of the environment; the relationship between trade and human rights; and the tension between market forces and sectors such as public health. The Brexit negotiations and their implications for the future of EU law are also discussed.

Topics covered

  • Introduction.
  • The Treaties and their significance. History and reforms of the founding treaties. Present structure. Characteristics of the EU treaties. The Brexit negotiations.
  • The institutions of the European Union. The political institutions structure and powers (European Council, Council of Ministers, European Commission, European Parliament) and the judicial power in the EU (European Court of Justice, General Court jurisdiction).
  • EU law making and sources of laws. Secondary legislation. Regulations and Directives. General principles of law.
  • The constitutional principles of EU law. Direct effect. Supremacy. The doctrine of consistent interpretation. State liability.
  • Free movement of goods. Definition of 'goods'. Scope of application. Quantitative restrictions. Distinctly and indistinctly applicable measures. Derogations. Proportionality test.
  • Services and establishment. Definition of 'services' and 'establishment'. Scope of application. Distinctly and indistinctly applicable measures. Derogations. Proportionality test.
  • Free movement of capital. Definition of 'capital'. Scope of application. Access to market. Application to third countries. Derogations. Proportionality test.
  • Trade harmonisation. Competence and approximation. The limits of EU power. Article 114.
  • Competition policy. The notion of 'agreement'. 'Decisions by association of undertakings'. 'Concerted practice'. Exemptions under Article 101(3). Enforcement and Regulation 1/2003. The notion of dominance and abuse under Article 102.
  • Free movements of persons and citizenship. Definition of 'workers'. Scope of application. Principle of non-discrimination on grounds of nationality. Derogations.Proportionality test. Emergence of concept of citizenship. Scope of application Articles 20 and 21.
  • EU human rights. Human rights as general principles of law. The Charter of Fundamental Rights. Scope of application. The role of the European Court of Justice.

Learning outcomes

If you complete the module successfully you should be able to:

  • Contextualise the modern-day operation of European Union law and the internal market within its historical origins, its treaties and its institutional frameworks
  • Explain the general principles of EU Law and highlight their relevance in judicial decision-making
  • Identify the legal sources of the four freedoms and apply relevant statutes and case law to explore the ambit of these freedoms
  • Understand the concept of abuse of EU law and the regulation of the internal market as related to competition policy
  • Evaluate how the balance of fundamental rights and the freedoms is achieved as discussed in seminal jurisprudence and wider academic debates.
  • Paraphrase and critique key arguments advanced in judicial opinions and academic writings
  • Use appropriate legal terminology and abbreviations specific to EU law
  • Locate and interrogate key primary and secondary sources relevant to EU law
  • Develop a consistent and critical argument both in relation to problem questions and to essay questions.


4hr 15 mins unseen examination

Essential reading

  • Costa, M. and S. Peers Steiner & Woods EU law. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2023) 15th edition [ISBN 9780192884534].