The Department of Public Law focuses on those areas of the law that traditionally fall within the Public Law domain. This includes the areas of Criminal Law, Human Rights, Legal Interpretation, Constitutional Law, Administrative Law and International Law. Flowing from these are a number of specialised areas, including Media Law, Statutory Crimes, Environmental Law, Medical Law, International Humanitarian Law, Municipal Law, and Extractive Industries Law.
Members of the Department actively contribute to these areas through teaching on the undergraduate LLB programme, as well as a variety of postgraduate coursework and research programmes — including LLM, MPhil and LLD. These programmes include International Law, Criminal Law, Constitutional and Administrative Law, Socio-economic Rights, Human Rights and Constitutional Practice, International Air, Space and Telecommunications Law, Extractive Industries Law in Africa and International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights in Military Operations. Members of the Department are also involved in other coursework LLM programmes, including the LLM in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa, and the LLM in International Trade and Investment Law (both offered by the Centre for Human Rights).
The Department hosts two specialised academic entities, including the Centre for Law and Medicine (CLM), and the Extractive Industry Law in Africa Unit (EILA). The Department also hosts the National Research Foundation's (NRF) South African Research Initiative (SARChI) Chair for International Constitutional Law, which is currently held by Prof Dire Tladi.
Through its academics, the Department is also involved in various certificate courses. Prof Pieter Carstens is the Director of the Centre for Law and Medicine which offers a Certificate in Medical Law. Prof Melanie Murcott is the course leader of the UP Certificate in Environmental Law offered through Enterprises University of Pretoria. Adv Leon Gerber the course leader of the short programme on Promotion and Protection of Investments in Africa (in collaboration with Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr).