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An introduction to law

This key introductory OU level 1 law module is taught entirely online and considers the nature and role of law. It examines the role and function of a legal system by considering why laws develop, how laws  are created, interpreted and applied and the role that law plays in regulating and administering justice within a society. The relationship between law, judicial reasoning, public policy and politics is also explored. The key aspects of law making in England and Wales are covered, including the mechanisms created for the administration and enforcement of justice in these jurisdictions. The module also considers a number of fundamental legal concepts such as liability, culpability, evidence and sanctions. You will work through the module using a blend of online text materials, audio, video, and interactive online activities.

Modules count towards OU qualifications

OU qualifications are modular in structure; the credits from this undergraduate module could count towards a certificate of higher education, diploma of higher education, foundation degree or honours degree.

Browse qualifications in related subjects

Module

Module code
W101
Credits

Credits

  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
60
Study level
Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU module levels correspond to these frameworks.
OU SCQF FHEQ
1 7 4
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
See Entry requirements

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This was an interesting module and a great introduction to anyone wanting to pursue their study in law. The units...
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This is an excellent introduction to law with most of the units well written and explained in enough depth. It...
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What you will study

The module will cover a range of substantive legal principles and the law making framework in England and Wales. Throughout your studies you will develop a number of key legal academic skills and learn to interpret and apply the laws which have been created by the Westminster Parliament, the Welsh Assembly, the courts and European institutions.

The module begins by asking you to consider the nature and sources of law. Why do we have law and what role does law play. It then examines the fundamental principles which form the UK’s constitution before considering law making in England and Wales. Through your studies of the law making process you will learn about the range of institutions and bodies which have power to make law which impacts directly or indirectly in the UK.

You will look at the role of the Westminster Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and the wider impact of devolution, secondary legislation and the role of common law. You will also explore the relationship between common law and equity, law making processes in the EU and the European Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

You will then explore how laws are administered and what sanctions can be imposed when laws are broken. Creating law is only one aspect of the legal system and you will consider the importance within a legal system of the administration of justice and the relationship between judicial reasoning, public policy and politics. Fundamental legal concepts will be introduced, such as evidence (burden, proof and truth), legal personality, culpability and liability.

Throughout the module you will be asked to think about the role and nature of the law and key legal concepts and the features of a just legal system.  An integral aspect of this module is the development of legal and other study skills. These will enhance your ability to reason, explain, and present an argument. They will also enable you to challenge accepted ideas and practices. You will be expected to become a critical thinker and also spend time reflecting on your own learning and progress.

The development of skills forms an essential part of legal study and is an integral part of legal study. The thinking, reasoning and organisational skills developed through academic legal study are highly sought after and valued.

You will learn

In addition to the knowledge you will gain from this module you will also develop essential legal study skills. This includes the ability to:

  • interpret, describe and apply legal principles in a logical and coherent way 
  • interpret, describe and apply legal authority in a logical and coherent way 
  • identify the characteristics of a legal argument
  • identify and analyse conflicting accounts, interpretations or points of view.
  • read and discuss legal information
  • use legal authority, legal material and other sources appropriately.  
  • identify and use appropriate primary and secondary sources of law and legal information
  • reference and cite relevant material including case and statute law.

The module is also designed to develop a range of general skills which form part of study at this level and which aid the development of your legal skills. The ability to communicate effectively in writing is an essential skill for a law student and the module has been designed to develop the skills listed below throughout the module and your study of each unit. You will be provided with the opportunity to learn how to:

  • identify relevant points and take notes in a manner appropriate to the task
  • summarise the key points of a piece of written material
  • present and structure information clearly
  • make accurate use of the English language and legal terminology
  • manage tasks and solve problems
  • make appropriate and professional use of IT including presentation of word processed documents
  • make use of electronic communications and websites
  • plan, adapt an electronic search and record the results of that search accurately 
  • engage in appropriate and effective communication online
  • discuss information contained in a table, graph, pie chart or bar chart.
  • effectively plan and manage your own time and studies .
  • analyse tasks and make plans for tackling them 
  • learn from feedback, monitor and reflect on personal progress, identifying strengths and weaknesses
  • identify and implement ways of improving learning and performance
  • develop as an independent learner.

Vocational relevance

The module develops vocationally-orientated skills that are transferable to the job market: good written and communication skills; reaching reasoned conclusions; critical thinking; ability to analyse, synthesise, reflect on and present arguments; and problem solving and evaluating issues.

Professional recognition

If you are intending to use this module as part of the LLB, and you hope to enter the Legal Professions, you should read carefully the careers information on The Open University Law School website. There are different entry regulations into the legal professions in England and Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. You should read the information on the website as it is your responsibility to ensure that you meet these requirements.

Outside the UK

Please note that this module covers with the law of England and Wales.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

While you study this module you will be supported by your tutor in face to face and online tutorials. Your tutor will facilitate online discussions with your fellow students in your tutor group forum and will be available for individual queries and help if you need it. Your tutor will also mark your tutor marked assignments and give you feedback on your progress. 

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.

Assessment

The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

Future availability

An introduction to law starts twice a year – in February and October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2018 and February 2019. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2021.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

    Course work includes:

    4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
    1 Interactive computer-marked assignment (iCMA)
    No examination
    No residential school


    Entry requirements

    This is a key introductory OU level 1 module. OU level 1 modules provide core subject knowledge and study skills needed for higher education and distance learning. It will give you the foundation knowledge and study skills to study law at a more advanced level (levels two and three). By the end of the module you will be expected to be working at the level required of first-year undergraduate students.

    If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

    Register

    Start End England fee Register
    02 Feb 2019 Sep 2019 £2928.00

    Registration closes 10/01/19 (places subject to availability)

    Register
    This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2021.

    Additional Costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a laptop, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

    If you're on a low income you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after your module has started.

    Ways to pay for this module

    Open University Student Budget Account

    The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments.

    You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

    • Register now, pay later – OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
    • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your monthly fee and number of instalments based on the cost of the module you are studying. APR 5.1% representative.

    Joint loan applications

    If you feel you would be unable to obtain an OUSBA loan on your own due to credit history or affordability issues, OUSBA offers the option to apply for a joint loan application with a third party. For example, your husband, wife, partner, parent, sibling or friend. In such cases, OUSBA will be required to carry out additional affordability checks separately and/or collectively for both joint applicants who will be jointly and severally liable for loan repayments.

    As additional affordability checks are required when processing joint loan applications, unfortunately, an instant decision cannot be given. On average the processing time for a joint loan application is five working days from receipt of the required documentation.

    Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).  

    Employer sponsorship

    Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU courses are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to complete. They also value the skills that students learn and can apply in the workplace.

    More than one in ten OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the module you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could approach your employer to see if they will sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. 

    • Your employer just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.
    • You won’t need to get your employer to complete the form until after you’ve chosen your module.  

    Credit/debit card

    You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. 

    We accept American Express, Maestro (UK only), Mastercard, Visa/Delta and Visa Electron. 

    Mixed payments

    We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. For example, you may wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Account (OUSBA).


    For more information about combining payment options, speak to an adviser or book a call back at a time convenient to you.


    Please note: your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and therefore the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fees and funding information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2019. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees. 

    This information was provided on 16/12/2018.

    What's included

    Module website, including online study calendar and units, interactive online activities, video and audio materials and links to assessment resources. All module material is presented entirely online.

    Computing requirements

    A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module.  Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

    Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

    A desktop or laptop computer with either:

    • Windows 7 or higher
    • macOS 10.7 or higher

    The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To participate in our online-discussion area you will need both a microphone and speakers/headphones. 

    Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students. 

    If you have a disability

    The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying W101 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

    To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our Disability support website.