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Law, society and culture

Law plays a role in all aspects of our everyday life. In this innovative module, you will explore the relationships between law, society and culture. You'll explore these themes through the lens of diverse and cutting edge issues which can sometimes be controversial. You'll have a unique opportunity to shape your pathway through the module by choosing the theme of your final block of study focusing either on “law and humanities” or on “law and sciences”. This module, which has been specially designed to be studied online, will also equip you with a range of legal and transferable skills necessary for further independent study as well as for your personal and professional life.   

What you will study

Throughout the module you will find a strong emphasis on law in context. This includes analysis of the interaction between law and the political, cultural and social contexts in which we live today as well as examination of these context from historical perspective. As you work through the module you will be increasingly prompted towards recognising, examining, questioning and challenging in-depth these legal contexts using your own legal reasoning. 

The module is divided into four blocks: 

Block 1: Gender, sexuality and law
This theme will look at the relationship between gender and law as well as sexuality and law. It will challenge the existing assumptions about the neutrality of law and it will explore the gendered nature of law, asking how does/should the law regulate and construct gender. Questions of how law interacts or should interact with the changing social concepts of gender and sexuality will also be addressed. In the final unit of the block you will focus on challenging the gender stereotypes and assumptions regarding female perpetrators and their treatment in the criminal justice system (in the UK and in international context).

Block 2: Media, Internet and law 
In this part of the module, you will critically consider the ever-increasing impact of the Internet on the legal regulation of cyberspace, the media and freedom of expression. In modern society, the Internet has become a part of everyday life, with millions of people actively participating in online spaces on a daily basis. The Internet has also become a space where political, economic and cultural views are expressed, including social and political protests. However, the increased online participation of users and its diverse nature has provoked questions about the legal regulation of online spaces. You will be challenged to think critically about the legal implications of people’s participation in online spaces in contexts of human rights (freedom of expression), privacy and surveillance as well as the overall question of the legal regulation of online space.

Block 3A: Law and humanities  
This block explores law in the context of humanities. Throughout this block, a sub-theme of Nazi Germany is adopted to provide you with concrete examples from a particular time period to explore the connections between the law and three key topics: the visual, language, and cultural property.  

Starting with critical inquiry into how symbols, emblems, heraldry etc. was used by the Nazis in relation to and in accordance with the law to support and promote their ideology in the lead-up to WWII, you will proceed to explore the language used in the legal texts of this historical period. Finally, you will explore the legal issues surrounding cultural property of this period, the development of the international framework on protection of cultural property as well as the topic of return of cultural property after the war. 

Block 3B: Law and sciences 
In this block, you will critically engage with issues arising in relation to the impact of sciences and developing technology on law. Starting with an exploration of the legal consequences of the use of robotics in various spheres of life, you will proceed to engage with the impact of cognitive neuroscience on law. In particular, you will have an opportunity to critically explore the question of how our sense of being an agent is viewed by the law when it determines criminal responsibility. Finally, the impact of “neurolaw” on the law of evidence will be addressed. 

You will study three out of these four themes. In the latter part of the module, you will have an opportunity to choose the final block that you will study, i.e. ‘Law and humanities’ (Block 3A) or ‘Law and sciences’ (Block 3B). The final piece of assessment, which takes a form of a research essay, will be on the topic of the theme of your choice. 

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.

Entry requirements

We recommend that you have successfully completed 60 credits of  OU level 2 modules prior to studying this OU level 3 module.

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

What's included

All the content and activities for this module will be available online.

You will need

You will need to record an oral presentation as part of your assessed work on this module. We strongly recommend that you use a headset with a microphone, as using an external or integrated microphone and speakers could result in a poor-quality recording.

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 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. 

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will mark and comment on your written and oral work. The tutors will also answer any questions you have about the study material or any other module related queries. 

You will also have the opportunity to attend various learning events, which will be online. We strongly encourage you to attend these opportunities to interact with other students.

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 above.

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

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper.TMA02 takes form of an oral presentation and you will be required to use Audio Recording Tool to record your presentation and to submit it. 

The EMA takes the form of a research essay and is an opportunity for you to conduct your own small-scale research. You will be able to choose one of two pre-set questions; one addressing the theme of Block 3A or one addressing the theme of Block 3B, depending on your individual preference. 

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying W340 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

Law, society and culture starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2018. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2023.

Course work includes:

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

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