Public Procurement Research Group

Public Procurement Law for Undergraduates

Course outline

"Public procurement" refers to the process by which the government acquires the things it needs to carry out is functions. These range from simple items, such as pens and paper clips for government offices, to complex equipment and works - for example, guided missiles, power stations, new Parliament buildings and the new London Olympic facilities.

Until recently public procurement did not attract much interest amongst UK lawyers, as there was very little law on this subject. However, in the last few years there has been extensive legislation and case law in this field, and it has now become an important new area for commercial practice and research. This innovative module - the first undergraduate module of its kind in the UK - looks at this evolving area from both a conceptual and practical perspective.

The module considers issues such as:

  • the legal rules on tendering public contracts in the UK
  • legal remedies for suppliers to challenge contract awards in the courts
  • defence procurement: the economic, legal and security issues
  • preventing corruption in public contracts
  • electronic means in public procurement - regulating electronic auctions, electronic tendering etc
  • the Private Finance Initiative

The focus is on UK law, which is based mainly on requirements laid down by the EC. However, the module will also consider the UK position as assessed against international standards and in the context of international developments.

Public procurement is both a "commercial" subject, since it concerns commercial arrangements made with private sector firms, and a "public law" subject, in that it deals with regulation of government behaviour. Thus it is relevant both for those interested in commercial law and practice, and those whose interests lie in constitutional and administrative law (including EC law).


There are two one-hour lectures per week (18 lectures in total) and one tutorial per fortnight (four in total).


Students will have the opportunity to complete an optional, non-assessed piece of coursework.


This module is assessed by one two-hour examination.


Public Procurement Research Group

School of Law
Law and Social Sciences building
University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

+44 (0)115 951 5700