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Exploring legal boundaries

This module will give you the opportunity to research a legal topic of your own choice. It will support your research of your chosen topic and help you to present your findings as a written report of your research methods and in poster format. You will work with other students to prepare your poster and will be encouraged to help each other in your academic endeavours.

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.

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Module code


  • 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.
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.
3 10 6
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
See Entry requirements

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What you will study

This module will enable you to develop critical research skills, and present your findings in relation to a topic of your choice that has a legal focus. You'll be encouraged to explore the interrelationships within law and across disciplines. The aim is to enable you to explore legal boundaries by selecting your own choice of legally relevant subject matter. The module provides teaching and support for the development of a skills base to enable you to develop as a researcher. It will provide the scope to research comparative and interdisciplinary issues of relevance to law. Additionally it will enable you to develop your skills of academic critique and to mature as a researcher. This will be achieved by a variety of means, including reflecting on peer-to-peer critique, tutor critique and personal reflection on research performance.

The type of skills covered will be relevant to:

  • planning, designing, and researching a legal topic in depth
  • the presentation of your ideas relating to the choice of a research topic in an appropriately focused and structured manner
  • reflection on your own research, presentation and interpersonal skills 
  • the formulation of an appropriately focused research question.

These skills are directly relevant to Personal Development Planning, so this module will help you to gain skills for whatever you plan to do after you have graduated.

The choice of question for study and research will be key to your success on this module. From the outset you will be encouraged to engage with the process of choosing a research topic suitable for exploration in a research poster. You'll be encouraged to post an image to prompt discussion in OpenStudio in the first two weeks of the module to start a discussion with your peers about a topic that you might like to research. It is anticipated that you will not have experience of framing research questions and therefore support in the form of written and interactive materials will support you through the mechanics of making a choice of topic to research. This support will continue throughout your research. This will assist you in formulating the topic appropriately and presenting your initial thoughts about your research.

The first assignment will enable dialogue between peers and tutors regarding your choice of question to research and the thinking behind selecting the topic; permitting you to adjust the research topic and question in the light of feedback. The second assignment enables you to reflect on your research for your poster and to present and critique both the methodology of your research and its findings.

Online event – 25 June 2019
If you’re considering studying this on a standalone basis or as part of your law degree at the OU, you can find out more about this module from the module team chairs and previous students at our online event ‘Choosing your OU level 3 optional law module’. This will be held online on Tuesday 25 June, 7pm – 8pm in the Student Experience room on the Law Study home page. A recording will be available to view after the event at the same link. You’ll also be able to find out about the other two optional modules for the law degree, Law, society and culture (W340) and Justice in action (W360).

Vocational relevance

This module will be relevant to any career that requires the planning of a research project including further academic research at Masters or doctoral level.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Attendance at tutorials/ online sessions is not compulsory, but your ability to work with your peers and to complete the summative assessment will be severely compromised if you do not participate in them.

From the outset, you will be able to obtain peer and tutor feedback on your reasoning relating to topic choice from your contributions to the Tutor Group Forum and OpenStudio, and by participating in the first learning event. All these things are essential to help you succeed and work towards submission of the first assessment.

You will be required to book a one-to-one synchronous online meeting with the tutor, and you will have the option of booking a second meeting if you wish.

You should use tutorials to receive tutor and peer feedback on your ideas and work, to reflect on your progress, and to offer your constructive feedback on your peers’ ideas and work. Your reflection on these experiences will form an important part of the summative assessment for this module.

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


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

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

Future availability

Exploring legal boundaries starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2019. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2023.


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:

    2 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
    End-of-module assessment
    No residential school

    Entry requirements

    As this is a research module, you will need to have completed 120 credits at Stage 1 and 120 credits at Stage 2 or, if you were a graduate entrant to your degree programme, at least 60 credits at Stage 2.

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


    Start End England fee Register
    05 Oct 2019 Mar 2020 £1506.00

    Registration closes 12/09/19 (places subject to availability)

    This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2023.

    Additional Costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a computer, 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, Mastercard, Visa 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 2020. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees. 

    This information was provided on 22/07/2019.

    What's included

    You will receive an online Module Guide and study materials. In addition to StudentHome, you will have access to a research diary, OpenStudio and the Research LaunchPad.

    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
    • Mac OS X 10.7 or higher

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

    To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).

    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 W350 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.