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Contract law and tort law

This module explores a range of rights and obligations. You will examine how contracts are formed, their terms and how they end. Using commercial and consumer contexts you will consider the policy and practice underpinning the development and growth of contract law and its international aspects. The law of torts is then explored. A range of torts including negligence, nuisance and trespass are examined and set in the context of policy and public interest. You will then consider the growing range of commercial torts. Case studies are used throughout and a comparative approach is taken which considers developments in other jurisdictions.

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.
2 9 5
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
See Entry requirements

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What you will study

The module examines contract and torts through the common law system with some comparisons with civil law systems. You will be introduced to the fundamental principles of the subject and an opportunity to acquire a depth of knowledge and an understanding of the legal rules dealing with contract and tort.

Contract law

The module starts with an introduction to the law of contract and examines the development of contract and torts within an historical context. You are then introduced to the elements of a contract and the case law that has provided the legal rules which establish whether or not a contract will be legally enforceable.

You will be introduced to the materials dealing with the legal rules which have identified the obligations placed upon parties within a contract. These obligations (terms) are introduced into a contract and become legally enforceable. You will consider the nature of these terms through specific cases and will develop an understanding of the different types of terms and how the courts and legislation control the use of different terms within consumer and commercial contracts. There is an opportunity for you to engage with the materials by examining the subject through a number of problem solving scenarios whilst drawing upon case law and legislation. This will also provide an opportunity for you to consider alternative arguments through academic materials which have either criticised the legal rules or considered an alternative legal system to rectify any perceived problems.

The latter stages of the contract section of the module deals with issues which may affect the validity of a contract and whether or not it is enforceable. You are then introduced to materials dealing with the discharge of a contract and will also examine the ways in which a contract can come to an end and the possible remedies which are available to the parties when there is a dispute.

Tort law

The second half of this module focuses on tortious obligations such as negligence and personal injury claims. This is a dynamic subject and is constantly growing through case law and the introduction of new legislation. You will be provided with an opportunity to engage with the legal rules and apply them in a problem solving context.

You will be introduced to the legal rules dealing with psychiatric harm and the case law that has developed this subject area. There will be an opportunity to consider the policy decisions behind some of these cases and for you to formulate a critical opinion.

You will also be introduced to the law of nuisance and occupier’s liability. These are also torts (civil wrongs) which affect individuals and corporate bodies such as companies. The rules that govern these particular torts have developed through case law and legislation which has supplemented this area of the law.

Practical application of the law

Additional benefits obtained through studying this module are the transferable skills both academically and through a practical application of the law. The module will give you the opportunity to address the development of the legal rules dealing with contract and torts and will provide you with the skills needed for both an academic and employment environment whilst considering the materials and engaging with the activities. For example, you will undertake some short activities which are linked to specific materials and this in turn supports the growth of personal skills such as communication skills, research skills, information technology skills, problem solving skills and self-appraisal through the consolidation activities which are included at the end of every unit.

The online materials for this module are made available for you and will give you direct access to the related sources, such as legal databases which are needed to complete some of the activities. This will also enhance your skills whilst dealing with these legal databases and at the same time developing your research skills.

Vocational relevance

The module is a good choice if you:

  • have a general interest in the law or would like to increase your legal knowledge and understanding
  • would find some legal knowledge useful in your work
  • intend to become a barrister in England and Wales, or solicitor or barrister in Northern Ireland as it covers one of the foundations of legal knowledge.

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.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You'll have a tutor with whom you can communicate by email, online forum, online conferencing, telephone and if required post.Your tutor will help you with the study material, mark and comment on your written work, and provide advice and guidance, if you need it. Your tutor will also run face-to-face and online tutorials that you are encouraged to attend. You will also be offered three, one-to-one, sessions with your tutor to support you with your studies.

We aim to provide face-to-face tutorials in a range of locations students can travel to, though we cannot guarantee availability close to where you live, in specific locations, or locations that have been used previously. Student numbers on the module, and where tutors are based, will affect the locations of where tutorials are held, and what online alternatives are provided. Recordings will typically be made available to students.

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.

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.

Future availability

Contract law and tort law starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2022 when we expect it to start for the last time.


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)
    No examination
    No residential school

    Entry requirements

    If you already have a degree then you are not required to have studied law before, but this is an OU level 2 module and you will need the study skills required for this level of study,

    If you are new to study at university level, or are returning after some time, we recommend that you first study an OU level 1 law module.

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


    Start End England fee Register
    01 Oct 2022 Jun 2023 £3228.00

    Registration closes 08/09/22 (places subject to availability)

    October 2022 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.

    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 26/05/2022.

    What's included

    You'll be provided with two text books:

    • Furmston, M. Law of Contract 
    • Steele, J. Tort Law, Text, Cases and Materials.

     You’ll also have access to a module website, which includes:

    • a week-by-week study planner
    • module materials
    • assessment guides
    • online tutorials and forums 
    • electronic versions of the text books.

    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 (10.15 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 W202 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.