Communications Law

Course summary

This course covers the regulation of communications networks and services, focusing particularly on the Internet and its most current challenges (e.g. privacy, net neutrality, search engines) taking into account a range of different perspectives from the liberalisation of telecommunications over the course of the 20thcentury to the rise of communication rights in the information society.

The course will explore current over-arching, cross-cutting issues, such as policy and regulatory rationales of communications law and the interplay between national and supra-national decision-making institutions. It will also cover a number of specific topical themes such as:

  • price control
  • social and universal service obligation
  • separation and new entry
  • technological neutrality (e.g. between wired and wireless)
  • cross-border agreements 
  • and consumer protection. 

This course provides a comprehensive multidisciplinary approach exploring perspectives on the communications industries from other disciplines (particularly the relationship between law and innovation and between communication technologies and society) and the interaction between communications law and other forms of regulation (e.g. competition, media, trade).

Weeks:

  1. Communications Law: Rationales, development, challenges
  2. Why regulate the Internet? An Infrastructure for Free Speech
  3. Why Regulate the Internet? Liberalisation, competition and industry efficiency
  4. Who Regulates the Internet? Global Governance of Communications Networks and Its Challenges
  5. Who Regulates the Internet? The Regulatory Design of the Communications Industry At European and National Level
  6. Authorisation, licensing and access today
  7. Universal service and consumers’ rights
  8. Net Neutrality
  9. Network Integrity, cybersecurity and on-line crimes
  10. Privacy, data protection and the right to be forgotten

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students should have:

  • have a deeper understanding of the legal issues arising in the communications industry (including user/consumer perspectives);
  • appreciate the limits on administrative action in the UK and elsewhere;
  • be able to engage in debate as to the type of regulatory measures appropriate for different forms of communication, and
  • comprehend the role of international law (‘hard’ and ‘soft’) for this field.

Assessment

4000-word essay (60%); assessed course work (20%); participation in online activity (20%).

Terms and conditions

Please note the University reserves the right to make variations to the contents of programmes, including the range of courses offered, and the available choice of courses in any given year may change.

Find out more about the University's terms and conditions