LLM Canon Law Theses 2012

The 20th July is Graduation Day for the Cardiff Law School and this afternoon in St David’s Hall the degree of Master of Laws in Canon Law will be awarded to the following graduands on the basis of their theses, below, and other formal submissions throughout the course.

–       Nigel Clark Williams, ‘Father in God and Ordinary or Chief Executive Officer? An Examination of the Inherent Jurisdiction of a Diocesan Bishop of the Church in England and of the Church in Wales in the 21st Century’

–       Anne Katherine Grieb, ‘Doctrinal Controversies in the Church of England (1860s – 1960s): Canonical and Ecclesial Resolutions

–       Vincent De Paul Martin Flynn, ‘The Conflict between Canon Law and Civil Law is inevitable given that Canon Law is not true Law but the internal rules of the Holy see – A State without Borders

–       Albert Joseph, ‘Alcoholism and Annulment: A Study on the Alcoholic’s Compatibility of Consensual Incapacity on Marital Consent in the Light of Canon 1095 and the Rotal Jurisprudence’. 

The Cardiff course was introduced in 1991 and was the first degree of its type at a British University for over 450 years.  In 1535, royal visitations were made by Richard Layton and John Tregonwell (to Oxford) and Thomas Legh and John Price (to Cambridge) as part of the so-called ‘visitation of the monasteries’.  The visitors were to implement a number of injunctions drawn up by Thomas Cromwell, one of which was to ensure the discontinuance of lectures and degrees in canon law, [F D Logan ‘The First Royal Visitation of the English Universities’, (1991) EHR Oct. 861-888].

The LLM at Cardiff is research-led and has among its alumni, secular and ecclesiastical judges, university academics, barristers, solicitors, bishops and clergy from both the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches, and diocesan chancellors and registrars.  The Course Director Professor Norman Doe, is assisted by Dr Russell Sandberg who also lectures at Cardiff, Honorary Professor Mark Hill QC, and others including Frank Cranmer and Javier Oliva of the University of Manchester.

Consolidated lists of theses from 1994 to 2003, and 2004 to 2008 have been published in the Ecclesiastical Law Journal, [(2004) 7 Ecc LJ 371 and (2009) 11 Ecc LJ 371, respectively].  The 13 students in the 2011 intake will be commencing their second year of studies in September.  The present ‘second years’, whose writing to date has demonstrated an eclectic range of interests – posthumous human rights; discriminatory legislative treatment of rastas, voodoo and obeah; witchcraft, from crime to civil liberty;  and the regulation of cremation residues – have now commenced their theses on more mainline topics.


In 2009, the Ecclesiastical Law Journal reflected on the development of the course, observing:

[t]he corpus of new learning in the field of ecumenical and international canon law is significant’.

Since then there has been a continued expansion of scholarship in this area, for which electronic communications are becoming increasingly important.  In his presentation to the first Cardiff LLM students, Paul Barber considered ‘The Fall and Rise of Doctors’ Commons’ and suggested:

perhaps the greatest loss was the dispersal of the College’s library—a collection of books on civil and canon law unrivalled in the English-speaking world’, (1996) 4 Ecc LJ 462.

Much has changed in the availability of academic material since 1865, and even since 1994.  For today’s distance-learning students, the majority of journal-based material is now available electronically, and some books such as Russell Sandberg’s Law and Religion are linked to supplementary material and updates via the internet, and scanned version are available for a number of older books and journals.

The ‘blogosphere’ has also benefitted and current LLM contributors include:

–       Mark Hill, (1994), whose web site is a source of information on clergy discipline cases; and as Editor of the Ecclesiastical Law Journal which provides free access to its Case Reports;

–       Phillip Jones, (1998), a relative newcomer to blogging who writes on ecclesiastical law and governance;

–       Frank Cranmer, (2001), on this present web log with David Pocklington, currently writing his thesis on The Role of Religion in the Development of Environmental Legislation; and

–       Patrick Wall, (2007), whose writes on Catholic clergy abuse issues.

The success of Doctors’ Commons has been attributed to the existence of a ‘critical mass’ of professionals with international contacts in other disciplines.  There internet is now facilitating this role and networking opportunities are afforded through groups associated with the course:  Law and Religion Scholars Network (LARSN); The Interfaith Legal Advisers Network (ILAN); and The Colloquium of Anglican and Roman Catholic Canon Lawyers, an initiative in conjunction with the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) and Duquesne Law School, Pittsburgh, USA.

The full extent of electronic information is evident from the LARSN web site which lists Law and Religion related websites, including links to primary and secondary legal materials, Law and Religion related journals as well as relevant bodies and research groups, centres and clusters.

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