Contact Us
Ms A Lansink – Head of Department
Tel: +27 15 962 8311 / 8512
About Us

The department of Public Law functions as a department in the School of Law and is responsible for the teaching of various undergraduate modules in the LLB and BA (Criminology) programmes. The department offers undergraduate tuition in modules such as Constitutional Law, Human Rights Law, Public International Law, Administrative Law, Interpretation of Statutes, Planning and Environmental Law, Moot Court and Social Security law. The department also offers an LLM degree in Human Rights Law, a research degree. The department has an excellent track record in research. Publications from the department have tended to take the form of books, journal articles and peer-reviewed conference proceedings by staff members. The department offers practical legal training through moot court competitions, and has further introduced and currently offers a course in mooting, through the module, Moot Court, offered in the final year of the LLB programme.  The main objectives of the department are to provide excellent legal education, including practical legal training to undergraduate students, to conduct research, to engage in community engagement activities and to develop community based projects.

Due to the practical nature of most of the modules taught in the department, our students participate in various national and international moot court competitions, the most notable of which are the International Human Rights moot and local competitions held at various institutions in the country.  One staff member of the department, the current HoD, Advocate Choma, presides as a commissioner in the Small Claims Court in Waterval, contributing immensely to the department’s community engagement work.

Masters Programme
The Masters programme in Human Rights equips graduate students with the necessary comparative and analytical skills necessary to critically appraise the law and to contribute to law reform. Human rights issues are critical to the present South African constitutional dispensation. The LL.M programme inter alia aims to equip candidates to evaluate human rights and cognate issues in both the rural and urban setting.

Undergraduate ProgrammesCodeDuration
Public International LawPIL 4541
Administrative LawADL 3541/4541
Constitutional LawCAL 3541 & 3641
Planning and Environmental LawPEL 2541, 2641 & 4531
Modules taught in the Department:

  1. Constitutional (CAL 2541):

Constitutional Law consists of one compulsory modules in the first semester of the second year.


  • Historical review constitutional development;
  • Pre- Union developments;
  • The Union of South Africa;
  • The transition to democracy;
  • The South African Constitution;
  • Basic concepts of Constitutional Law;
  • Constitutionalism;
  • The Westminster constitutional model;
  • The transformative nature of the Constitution;
  • Constitutionalism in South Africa: a brief overview ;
  • Separation of powers;
  • The purpose and principles of the doctrine of separation of powers;
  • The rule of law;
  • The separation of powers and the national legislature;
  • Separation of powers and the nation executive;
  • Separation of powers and judicial authority;
  • Separation of powers and chapter 9 institutions;
  • Multilevel government in South Africa;
  • The Bill of Rights and enforcement of constitution
  • The limitation of rights.
  • Equality, Human, dignity and privacy rights;
  • Administrative justice, access to information, access to courts and labour rights
  • Socio-economic rights
  1. Human Rights Law (HRL 2641):

Human Rights Law consists of one compulsory module in the second semester of the second year.


  • The sources of South African human rights;
  • South Africa as a transitional society
  • The origin and history of the concept of human rights
  • The United Nations system of human rights protection
  • The regional system of human rights protection
  • The relationship between international and domestic legal systems
  • South African historical perspectives
  • The present system between international law and South African law
  • The 1996 Constitution
  • The right to equality
  • The right to life
  • Freedom of expression
  • The rights of arrested, detained and accused persons. The tension between amnesty and the right
  • The enforcement of socio-economic rights
  • Labour relations
  • The environmental rights clause
  • Housing
  • Health care, food, water and social security
  • Cultural rights
  • Investigations and reparations
  • Punishment
  • Truth commissions
  • Amnesty
  • The tension between amnesty and the rights to investigation and reparations
  • The conflict between amnesty and punishment
  1. Public International Law ( PIL 4541)

Public International Law consists of one compulsory module in the first semester of the fourth year.

3.1 List of Topics:

  • An introduction to International Law
  • Sources of International Law
  • Relationship between South African domestic law and international law
  • Recognition and Territory
  • Jurisdiction and international crimes
  • Extradition
  • Immunity from jurisdiction
  • The United Nations
  • The use of force in international law
  • International adjudication
  • International human rights
  • Refugee Law
  • International environmental law
  • International climate change law
  1. Administrative Law ( ADL 3541)

Administrative law consists of one compulsory modules in the first semester of the third year.

  • List of Topics
  • The development of Administrative Law in South Africa
  • The reform of Administrative Law in South African 1990 to 200
  • Administrative authorities in legal context
  • Constitutional supremacy
  • Doctrine of separation of powers
  • Administrative actions
  • Administrative actions under PAJA
  • Regulation of Administrative action
  • Lawfulness
  • Procedural fairness
  • Reasonableness
  • Reasons
  • Standing and procedure for judicial review
  • Remedies in judicial review proceedings
  1. Interpretation of Statutes (IST 2541) 

Interpretation of Statutes consists of one compulsory modules in the first semester of the second year.

5.1 List of Topics

  • Legislation source of law
  • What is interpretation of statutes
  • The new constitutional order
  • What is legislation
  • Categories of legislation
  • Adoption and promulgation of legislation
  • How legislation is interpreted
  • Theoretical foundation
  • Jurisprudential perspectives on statutory interpretation
  • South African theory of interpretation
  • A practical, inclusive methodology: the five interrelated dimensions of interpretation
  • The language dimension
  • The holistic ( contextual and structural) dimension
  • Judicial law-making during interpretation, and peremptory and directory provisions
  • Constitutional interpretation 
  1. Planning and Environmental Law (PEL 4531)

Planning and Environmental Law consists of one compulsory module in the first semester of the fourth year.

6.1 List of Topics

  • Scope and definition of environmental law
  • Jurisprudential basis for protecting the environment
  • Legal norms and standards underpinning environmental management
  • Overview of the evolution of Environmental Law in South Africa
  • Sources & history of Environmental Law
  • The South African constitution and environmental legislation
  • Administration and enforcement of environmental law in South Africa
  • Identification of environmental management tools in South Africa
  • International Environmental Law and contemporary issues including climate


7 Moot Court (MTC 4531)

Moot Court consists of one module in the first semester of the fourth year.

7.1 List of Topics

  • Reading facts correctly and identifying the issues
  • Separating legal from factual issues
  • How to draft a charge sheet
  • Opening statements and what to include in an opening statement
  • Examination in chief and what to include in the examination in chief
  • Cross examination and the art thereof
  • Closing arguments and how to make them

8      Social Security Law (SSL 4641)

Social Security Law consists of one module in the second semester of the fourth year.

   8.1 List of Topics

  • Definition of social security
  • The different strands of social security
  • Social assistance
  • Social insurance
  • Social relief
  • Social compensation
  • Social upliftment
  • Assistance by employers
  • Private savings and insurance
  • Social security in South Africa
  • An historical overview of South Africa’s social security system
  • Old age benefits
  • Retirement funds
  • Grants in terms of the Social Assistance Act 59 of 1992
  • Death benefits
  • Group insurance
  • Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases
  • The Unemployment Insurance Act
  • Dismissal on the ground of ill health
  • The constitutional dimension
  • International and national definitions and systems of health care
  • South African law on maternity benefits
  • The state maintenance grant
  • Poverty and unemployment in South Africa
The following is a list of staff members in the Department of Public Law

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