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Taxation principles and policy

Module information>

Academic Direction
UCL, Queen Mary University of London
Modes of Study

Tax law is a fundamental part of a legal education as tax law pervades much of society, it’s a founding element of the legal and political system and without it most societies can’t exist. The study of tax law is essential for many reasons; at some point you will all pay tax but aside from the personal benefits of knowing about the tax system it’s crucial that you understand the area if you’re going to enter any element of the legal profession. In this course we tax a principled approach, considering why tax systems may be structured in a particular way and what may influence the structure. We will investigate what a tax system should look like and what ideals it should have and then we study whether a particular tax system might meet those ideals and the extent to which those ideals can operate in the real world of today. The course also explores some of the major themes of taxation such as the concepts of income and capital.

Module A: Underlying principles, themes and ideals in taxation


  • Survey of United Kingdom taxes
  • The nature of tax and the aims of a successful tax system
  • Principles of direct and indirect taxation
  • Comparative elements of taxation

Module B: Issues in modern taxation


  • Tax and economic attitudes
  • Tax and political attitudes
  • Statutory interpretation
  • Tax avoidance

Module C: United Kingdom taxes I: taxes on income


  • Employment income
  • Business/trading income
  • Corporation tax
  • Countering avoidance in the provision of personal services: the IR35 legislation and debate

Module D: United Kingdom taxes II: additional tax bases


  • Capital Gains Tax
  • Inheritance tax and wealth
  • Taxation of land and property
  • Value Added Tax


Each module will be assessed by a 45-minute unseen written examination.


It is strongly recommended you attempt Modules A and B before C and D.

How to apply

You can either apply for these modules individually or as part of the Postgraduate Laws programme. (In either scenario, they must be studied in order.)

These modules also contribute towards the following specialist pathways for Laws:

  • Common Law
  • International Business Law
  • Tax Law

Apply via Postgraduate Laws.