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Justice in action

Qualification dates
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The defining feature of this module involves being allocated to a group pro bono project where you will work collaboratively with other students under the supervision of a tutor. Pro bono work involves taking part in activities which provide members of the public with legal advice, assistance and guidance. The term pro bono derives from the Latin phrase pro bono publico which translates as “for the public good.”

What you will study

During this module you will work in a small group on a practical pro bono activity designed to contribute to the public good. You will also explore important themes relating to social justice, professional identity and legal values and ethics and develop key legal, employability and personal skills.

Your pro bono project could include either working to provide advice in an online law clinic, or running face-to-face legal information sessions in a school or a prison, or undertaking various other forms of online activities to promote legal awareness and social justice. Participation in a group pro bono project is a compulsory part of the module and forms an important part of your assessment. All the pro bono projects require collaborating in a small group and demand significant commitment and initiative. As you are likely to be working with members of the public you will be representing both the OU Law School and the wider University, so you will be required to approach your allocated project in a professional manner.

Prior to the start of the module you will be invited to express your preferences for particular pro bono projects. The module team will take these preferences into account, but you may not be allocated your first choice. More information on the pro bono projects is available on the Open Justice website.

The module is divided into four blocks of work:

Block 1: Exploring pro bono work 
This block will consider why people undertake pro bono work and the concept of social justice. It will explore how this relates to professionalism and professional identity within the legal profession and look at how legal values and ethics can and should influence legal work. During this block you will begin to think about how these issues will affect your own work during the module. You will also undertake your own skills audit to enable you to assess both the skills you already have and those you need to develop for personal and professional growth.

Block 2: Developing legal skills
This block will focus on the development of key legal skills. In particular, undertaking practical legal research, interviewing clients, legal writing and presenting legal information face-to-face or online to various groups. These skills will then be drawn together in a problem-solving activity. You will continue to think about your own skills development and the themes that were introduced in Block 1. Depending on the pro bono project you are allocated to, you may also begin to undertake some practical legal activities.

Block 3: Practical pro bono activities
This is the longest section of the module. During this block you will undertake a practical pro bono activity working collaboratively as part of a small group. This could include work related to the online law clinic or activities designed to enhance the public understanding of law.  Work undertaken in the online law clinic could include assessing new enquiries and/or interviewing clients and/or preparing letters of advice. Activities to enhance public understanding could include face-to-face presentations in schools or prisons and/or online presentations to community groups and/or the preparation of written guides or articles. During this section of the module you will need to be flexible to accommodate the demands of the pro bono activities and to work effectively as part of a group. You will continue to think about your skills development and the themes that were introduced in Block 1.

Block 4: Drawing it all together
In the final, shorter block of the module you will complete any ongoing pro bono activity and relate them back to the themes you studied in Block 1. You will complete your review of the skills you have developed throughout the module.

Please note that, due to the nature of the module’s pro bono activities, each presentation will have a limited number of students.

You will learn

Doing this module you will gain knowledge and understanding of the role of law and legal practice in society, including looking at ethics, values and social justice and the importance and formation of professional identity. You will analyse and evaluate legal problems and issues and conduct appropriate research before reviewing your findings.  You will develop your ability to collaborate and work as part of a team and clearly communicate information about law in a variety of ways to a range of individuals and groups. You will also identify and develop other important skills required for both career and personal development.

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 carefully read 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

As this is a Stage 3 module, you will need to have successfully completed 60 credits of study at Stage 2. Students on joint degrees will have to complete Public law and criminal law (W203) before proceeding to study this module.

The nature of pro bono activities means that the module’s workload may not be evenly spread across each week of the module and students should be prepared work flexibly during parts of the module. For example, spending more hours on the module in the week prior to a face-to-face or online presentation or when finalising a letter of advice to a client.

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

What's included

The module is taught online. You will have access to all module materials via the module and the Open Justice websites.  You will also be provided with a virtual reality headset to enable you to participate in activities in Block 2 relating to presenting information face to face. Please note that to use the virtual reality headset you will be required to have access to a smartphone. Alternative resources will be available to students without access to a smartphone.

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. 

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will mark and comment on your written and (where chosen) oral work. The tutors will also answer any questions you have about the study material and the pro bono work you are undertaking, as well as any other module related queries.

The central module team will help oversee your participation in your allocated pro bono project.

You will also have the opportunity to attend various learning events. You are expected to attend these opportunities to enable you to interact with other students and effectively carry out your pro bono activities.  The module includes both face to face and online learning events, but online equivalents will be offered for all face to face events.

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).

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. You can choose to submit part of your EMA in the form of an oral presentation which (if chosen) will require you to use an Audio Recording Tool to record your presentation and to submit it.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying W360 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

Justice in action 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 2024.

Course work includes:

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