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Exploring legal meaning

This module looks at a range of legal research methods which offer different approaches to, and perspectives on, legal meaning – the place and meaning of law in the modern world.  The methods covered are doctrinal, historical, comparative, socio-legal, critical and feminist and trans-national.  For each one, a case study is used to enable the strengths and weaknesses of that particular approach or perspective to be evaluated.  The examples range from areas such as the debate surrounding criminal responsibility of children, to the role of the media in the family courts and measures to tackle international corruption. 

Qualifications

W820 is a compulsory module in our:

W820 is an optional module in our:

Postgraduate Loans 

If you study this module as part of an eligible qualification, you may be eligible for a Postgraduate Loan. For more information, see Fees and funding.

Excluded combinations

Sometimes you will not be able to count a module towards a qualification if you have already taken another module with similar content. To check any excluded combinations relating to this module, visit our excluded combination finder or check with an adviser before registering.

Module

Module code
W820
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.
30
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 postgraduate modules correspond to these frameworks.

OU Postgraduate
SCQF 11
FHEQ 7
Study method
Distance learning
Find out more in Why the OU?
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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What you will study

Through study on this 30-credit module you will develop your knowledge and understanding of a range of legal research methods including doctrinal, historical, comparative, socio-legal, critical and feminist and trans-national. You will consider the strengths and weaknesses of each legal research method through case studies on issues such as decision-making for adults who lack mental capacity, the historical development of the law on abortion, the debate surrounding criminal responsibility of children, the role of the media in the family courts, the use of reproductive technologies and measures to tackle international corruption.

During your studies you will develop and consolidate a range of important postgraduate legal skills. You will use online sources to identify, access, assess and evaluate relevant information, learn to synthesise and apply legal principles in a logical and competent manner and identify, interpret and understand key legal rules, concepts and principles applicable across a wide range of legal areas. Together these will enable you to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each legal research method explored and develop the depth and richness of thinking and understanding expected of postgraduate students in this area.

The module is delivered and accessed wholly online through a dedicated website. It will be possible to download the study materials and read them offline but many of the activities will require you to work online. You will be required to undertake online research. Access to the OU Library and online legal databases are provided as an integral part of this module. You will also have access to the Master of Laws (LLM) website.

Tuition will be conducted through online forums and via online tutorials. Here students and tutors will contribute to the discussion, debate, exploration and evaluation of relevant legal research methods.

You can take this module on its own or as a module of our Master of Laws qualification.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor  who you can contact by email or telephone and through the online forums, who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. 

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

Assessment

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

You are 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 must submit the end-of-module assessment (EMA) electronically.

The eTMAs are scheduled at regular intervals. Extensive guidance is given on all assignments submitted. There are three eTMAs ranging from 1500 words to 2500 words and the EMA of 3500 words.

Course work includes

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

Course satisfaction survey

See the satisfaction survey results for this course.

Future availability

Exploring legal meaning starts once a year – in November. This page describes the module that will start in November 2018. We expect it to start for the last time in November 2020.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Essential Documents website.

    Entry requirements

    To register for this module you must have an honours degree from a UK university or equivalent. Various higher education and professional qualifications are considered equivalent to an honours degree. If you hold a qualification that you believe is an equivalent level to a UK honours degree or if you lack formal academic qualifications but have relevant work experience, please speak to an adviser.

    The module is taught in English, and your spoken and written English must be of an adequate standard for postgraduate study. If English is not your first language, we recommend that you seek assessment under the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Please see their website for details.

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

    Register

    Start End England fee Register
    03 Nov 2018 Apr 2019 £1360.00

    Registration closes 18/10/18 (places subject to availability)

    Register
    This module is expected to start for the last time in November 2020.

    Future availability

    Exploring legal meaning starts once a year – in November. This page describes the module that will start in November 2018. We expect it to start for the last time in November 2020.

    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.

    Ways to pay

    We know there’s a lot to think about when choosing to study, not least how much it’s going to cost and how you can pay.

    That’s why we keep our fees as low as possible and offer a range of flexible payment and funding options. To find out more see Fees and funding.

    Study materials

    What's included

    As well as individual support from a tutor you will have university library access (including access to legal databases), specially-written online study materials designed exclusively for this module, audio-visual material and access to a dedicated W820 website. You will also have access to the Master of Laws website.

    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 study materials will be online and a printable version is available.

    This module includes a requirement to undertake online research and the use of online forums; consequently time spent using a computer and the internet will be extensive. If you use assistive technology or have a hearing or speech impairment and have concerns about accessing this type of virtual environment and materials you can visit the system provider's website for information and contact The Open University to discuss it further before registering.

    If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Find out more about our services for disabled students.