Patents and Innovation LAW5170

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Law
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: No

Short Description

The principal aim of the course is to promote familiarity and understanding of patent law. The focus will be primarily on the critical examination and assessment of the legal means for protecting inventions across different industries, and on the rationales for protection.


The course begins with an overview of the framework of the European Patent Convention, which is an international treaty outside EU jurisdiction (hence largely unaffected by Brexit). Subsequently, students will engage in more detailed examination and evaluation of the main legal requirements for a patent and related issues of scope of protection and infringement. This is situated within current debates on the protection of - and broader societal concerns associated with - pharmaceutical drugs and software (incl. artificial intelligence).


While the primary focus will lie on the UK and European (or, in some instances, EU) legal systems, parts of the course may also refer to the experience of other jurisdictions (e.g. United States) when appropriate. No prior knowledge, professional experience or technical background is required. All students are welcome.


10 x 2 hour seminars in semester 1.

Requirements of Entry

The course is open to all LLM students subject to the requirements of the LLM programme on which a student is enrolled.

Excluded Courses

Intellectual Property and the Market (LAW5034)




The course is assessed by an essay of 1500 words (25%) and a 2 hour final seen examination (75%).

Main Assessment In: December

Course Aims

The principal aim of this course is to provide students with an understanding of what is meant by patents and the legal concept of invention in the context of innovation and technological development; to examine the application of the legal means by which inventions can be protected, looking at approaches in different jurisdictions; to critically assess the justifications for such protection.


Further aims are to:


■ Develop the analytical and critical skills of students by detailed examination of relevant law, its application and justifications;

■ Develop the oral communication skills of students;

■ Instil in students an ability to constructively evaluate the positions taken in current debates and to suggest and consider possible reforms;

■ Foster critical understanding and evaluation of areas of controversy within this field of law;

■ Encourage independent learning.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:


1. Compare approaches taken in different legal systems to the protection of inventions;

2. Critically evaluate the legal means available to protect inventions in the UK and in Europe;

3. Analyse the arguments surrounding protection of inventions;

4. Assess proposals for changes to the law in this area;

5. Apply their understanding of substantive law to complex problems.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course summative assessment.