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Civil justice and tort law

By studying this module you’ll gain an understanding of the range of the laws under the civil law, as well as the operation of the civil justice system. You’ll develop knowledge and skills of issues relating to law-making in England and Wales, including key underpinnings of principles and actors operating in the legal system, as well as issues relating to access to justice and alternative dispute resolution. This module will also cover the substantive legal subject of tort law. A range of torts will be explored including negligence, nuisance, and defamation.

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.
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

This module covers a range of topics relating to the operation of the civil law system in England and Wales, and it also covers the substantive law subject of tort law.

You’ll be introduced to the operation of the civil law system in England and Wales, including looking at a range of areas of law which come under the umbrella term ‘civil law’. The civil law court system will be covered, as well as modern developments in the administration of civil justice. Key underpinnings of the legal system will be discussed, such as legal reasoning and legal precedent, as well as the role of various actors within the legal profession, including litigants and legal practitioners. You’ll have the opportunity to consider the ethical issue of some people being unable to obtain access to justice through the courts. You'll also consider wider critical approaches to understanding how the law is interpreted, including how issues such as judicial bias or policy can affect the development of the law.

You’ll also be introduced to a range of case law and legislation in the dynamic and constantly growing area of tort law. You’ll learn about a range of torts, such as negligence, which forms the basis of a lot of litigation including, for example, relating to car accidents and personal injury claims. The torts of nuisance and defamation will also be covered. Alternative approaches to tortious liability drawn from different jurisdictions from across the world will also be explored.

Through the module you'll be given the opportunity to engage with problem solving scenarios to test your ability to apply case law and legislation to a range of issues and aid the development of your skills as a lawyer. You will also be given the opportunity to critically engage with legal arguments through analysis of academic materials and reflect on improvements which can be made to the existing law.

You'll develop several skills when undertaking this module, such as in communication, research, information technology, self-reflection, and critical analysis. In engaging with this module, you will have the opportunity to develop skills germane to a career as a legal professional. These skills are transferable to several contexts for a new prospective career, or in your current employment in business, local and national government, education, charitable and non-governmental organisations, or other public facing and regulatory roles.

Vocational relevance

This module is a good choice if you intend to pursue a career as a legal practitioner or would find some legal knowledge useful in current or future employment. 

Professional recognition

If you are intending to use this module as part of the LLB, and hope to enter the legal professions, you should carefully read the careers information on our Careers page. There are different entry regulations into the legal profession 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 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.

Future availability

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


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

    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 your OU level 1 studies you will be expected to be working at the level required of first-year undergraduate students.


    Start End England fee Register
    29 Jan 2022 Sep 2022 £3168.00

    Registration closes 13/01/22 (places subject to availability)

    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 2022. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees. 

    This information was provided on 26/10/2021.

    What's included

    You will be provided with the textbook Tort law (Horsey and Rackley) and have access to a module website, which includes:
    • a week-by-week study planner
    • course-specific module materials
    • audio and video content
    • assignment details and submission section
    • online tutorial access.

    Computing requirements

    You'll need a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of 64-bit Windows 10 (note that Windows 7 is no longer supported) or macOS and broadband internet access.

    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 W112 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.