This thesis explores the different aspects of higher curvature gravity. The "membrane paradigm" of black holes in Einstein gravity is extended to black holes in f(R) gravity and it is shown that the higher curvature effects of f(R) gravity causes the membrane fluid to become non-Newtonian. Next a modification of the null energy condition in gravity is provided. The purpose of the null energy condition is to filter out ill-behaved theories containing ghosts. Conformal transformations, which are simple redefinitions of the spacetime, introduces serious violations of the null energy condition. This violation is shown to be spurious and a prescription for obtaining a modified null energy condition, based on the universality of the second law of thermodynamics, is provided. The thermodynamic properties of the black holes are further explored using merger of extremal black holes whose horizon entropy has topological contributions coming from the higher curvature Gauss-Bonnet term. The analysis refutes the prevalent belief in the literature that the second law of black hole thermodynamics is violated in the presence of the Gauss-Bonnet term in four dimensions. Subsequently a specific class of higher derivative scalar field theories called the galileons are obtained from a Kaluza-Klein reduction of Gauss-Bonnet gravity. Galileons are null energy condition violating theories which lead to violations of the second law of thermodynamics of black holes. These higher derivative scalar field theories which are non-minimally coupled to gravity required the development of a generalized method for obtaining the equations of motion. Utilizing this generalized method, it is shown that the inclusion of the Gauss-Bonnet term made the theory of gravity to become higher derivative, which makes it difficult to make any statements about the connection between the violation of the second law of thermodynamics and the galileon fields.