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Criminal law and the courts

This module employs a range of multimedia sources and engaging activities to immerse you in key issues and debates relevant to the criminal justice system of England and Wales. The module will focus on a range of criminal offences, such as murder and theft using real case studies, as well as aspects of criminal defences. You'll also be addressing themes of law reform, campaigning, inequality and human rights.

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

Module code
W111
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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What you will study

The module begins by discussing a selection of myths in criminal law, clarifying how and whether these ring true, for example whether all criminal trials involve a jury. You'll see how cases are brought to court and why many crimes are never prosecuted at all.

You'll be introduced to:

  • different sources of law and the role of Parliament and the courts in developing criminal offences and defences
  • key criminal law concepts such as actus reus (wrongful act) and mens rea (blameworthy state of mind) through a case study of a real homicide case 
  • the law relating to a range of criminal offences such as murder, theft, criminal damage, and harassment.

Studying this module will also help to familiarise yourself with aspects of criminal defences with a particular focus on self-defence and duress.

The final part of the module explores youth justice, miscarriages of justice and double jeopardy. This will allow you to engage with critical review of the criminal law and help develop skills needed for onwards study.

Throughout the module you'll be encouraged to engage with themes of law reform, campaigning, inequality and human rights through a range of multi-media sources, interactive activities and module materials. You'll also be given opportunities to develop key skills such as reading for understanding, note-taking and summary writing.

Vocational relevance

The criminal law of England and Wales and the skills developed throughout this module form a compulsory part of any career path into legal practice. The subject knowledge and skills will prepare you for any career in law.

If you are intending to use this module as part of the Bachelor of Laws (LLB), and you hope to enter the Legal Professions, you should read our Careers in Law information. There are different entry regulations into the legal professions in England and Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. It is your responsibility to ensure that you meet these requirements.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Online tutorials will be provided and recordings of these will typically be made available to students. While you’re not obliged to attend any of these tutorial events, you are strongly encouraged to take part.

You will also have a selection of additional online tutorials focussing on direct study support, library skills and specific assessment support.

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).

Future availability

Criminal law and the courts starts twice a year – in February and October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2022 and February 2023. We expect it to start for the last time in February 2029.

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)
    2 Interactive computer-marked assignments (iCMAs)
    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 (OU levels 2 and 3). By the end of the module you will be expected to be working at the level required of first-year undergraduate students.

    Register

    Start End England fee Register
    01 Oct 2022 Jun 2023 -

    Registration now closed

    28 Jan 2023 Sep 2023 £3228.00

    Registration closes 12/01/23 (places subject to availability)

    Register
    This module is expected to start for the last time in February 2029.

    Additional Costs

    Study costs

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

    If your income is not more than £25,000 or you are in receipt of a qualifying benefit, 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).


    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 2023. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees. 

    This information was provided on 26/09/2022.

    What's included

    You will be provided with the module textbook Complete Criminal Law: Text, Cases and Materials 8th edition (Loveless, Allen and Derry) and have access to a module website, which includes:

    • an eBook version of the module textbook
    • a week-by-week study planner
    • course-specific module materials
    • audio and video content
    • assignment details and submission section
    • online tutorial access and tutor support.

    Computing requirements

    You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11), or macOS (11 'Big Sur' or higher).

    Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.

    To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

    Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

    Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

    It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop as described above.

    If you have a disability

    The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying W111 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.