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Law, society and culture

Law plays a role in all aspects of our everyday life. In this innovative module, you will explore the relationships between law, society and culture. You'll explore these themes through the lens of diverse and cutting edge issues which can sometimes be controversial. You'll have a unique opportunity to shape your pathway through the module by choosing the theme of your final block of study focusing either on “law and humanities” or on “law and sciences”. This module, which has been specially designed to be studied online, will also equip you with a range of legal and transferable skills necessary for further independent study as well as for your personal and professional life.   

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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.
Level of Study
3 10 6

Study method

Module cost

Entry requirements

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What you will study

Throughout the module you will find a strong emphasis on law in context. This includes analysis of the interaction between law and the political, cultural and social contexts in which we live today as well as examination of these contexts from a historical perspective. As you work through the module you will be increasingly prompted towards recognising, examining, questioning and challenging in depth these legal contexts using your own legal reasoning. 

The module is divided into four blocks: 

Block 1: Gender, sexuality and law
This theme will look at the relationship between gender and law as well as sexuality and law. It will challenge the existing assumptions about the neutrality of law and explore the gendered nature of law, asking how does/should the law regulate and construct gender. Questions of how law interacts or should interact with the changing social concepts of gender and sexuality will also be addressed. In the final unit of the block you'll focus on challenging the gender stereotypes and assumptions regarding female perpetrators and their treatment in the criminal justice system (in the UK and in international context).

Block 2: Media, Internet and law 
In this part of the module, you will critically consider the ever-increasing impact of the Internet on the legal regulation of cyberspace, the media and freedom of expression. In modern society, the Internet has become a part of everyday life, with millions of people actively participating in online spaces on a daily basis. The Internet has also become a space where political, economic and cultural views are expressed, including social and political protests. However, the increased online participation of users and its diverse nature has provoked questions about the legal regulation of online spaces. You'll be challenged to think critically about the legal implications of people’s participation in online spaces in contexts of human rights (freedom of expression), privacy and surveillance as well as the overall question of the legal regulation of online space.

Block 3A: Law and humanities  
This block explores law in the context of humanities. Throughout this block, a sub-theme of Nazi Germany is adopted to provide you with concrete examples from a particular time period to explore the connections between the law and three key topics: the visual, language, and cultural property.  

Starting with critical inquiry into how symbols, emblems, heraldry etc. was used by the Nazis in relation to and in accordance with the law to support and promote their ideology in the lead-up to WWII, you will proceed to explore the language used in the legal texts of this historical period. Finally, you will explore the legal issues surrounding cultural property of this period, the development of the international framework on protection of cultural property as well as the topic of return of cultural property after the war. 

Block 3B: Law and science 
In this block, you'll critically engage with issues arising in relation to the impact of science and developing technology on law. Starting with an exploration of the legal consequences of the use of robotics in various spheres of life, you will proceed to engage with the impact of cognitive neuroscience on law. In particular, you will have an opportunity to critically explore the question of how our sense of being an agent is viewed by the law when it determines criminal responsibility. Finally, the impact of “neurolaw” on the law of evidence will be addressed. 

You will study three out of these four themes. In the latter part of the module, you will have an opportunity to choose the final block that you'll study, i.e. ‘Law and humanities’ (Block 3A) or ‘Law and science’ (Block 3B). The final piece of assessment, which takes a form of a research essay, will be on the topic of the theme of your choice.

Student Experience Room
If you’re considering studying this on a standalone basis or as part of your law degree at the OU, you can find out more from the module team chairs and previous students in a recording of our online event 'Choosing your OU level 3 optional law module’. This was held in the Student Experience room on the Law Study home page. You’ll also be able to find out about the other two optional modules for the law degree, Exploring legal boundaries (W350) and Justice in action (W360).

Vocational relevance

If you're seeking a career in law, this module offers you the opportunity to develop the key skills you'll require during your career. It also enables you to think about important issues and dilemmas concerning law and society which you may come across during your work. If you've other career goals, this module offers the opportunity to obtain and develop experience and skills that'll enhance your employability more generally. For example, gaining experience of carrying out independent research and communicating effectively both orally and in writing.

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 who will mark and comment on your written and oral work. The tutors will also answer any questions you have about the study material or any other module-related queries. 

You'll have the opportunity to participate in various online learning events, which we strongly encourage as you'll be able to interact with the other 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 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.TMA02 takes form of an oral presentation and you will be required to use Audio Recording Tool to record your presentation and to submit it. 

The EMA takes the form of a research essay and is an opportunity for you to conduct your own small-scale research. You will be able to choose one of two pre-set questions; one addressing the theme of Block 3A or one addressing the theme of Block 3B, depending on your individual preference. 

Future availability

Law, society and culture starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2023. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2030.


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:

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

    Entry requirements

    We recommend that you have successfully completed 60 credits of OU level 2 modules prior to studying this OU level 3 module.

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


    Start End England fee Register
    07 Oct 2023 Mar 2024 £1731.00

    Registration closes 07/09/23 (places subject to availability)

    03 Feb 2024 Jul 2024 £1731.00

    Registration closes 11/01/24 (places subject to availability)

    This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2030.

    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 fee information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2024. Fees normally increase annually. For further information about the University's fee policy, visit our Fee Rules

    This information was provided on 29/05/2023.

    Can you study an Access module for free?

    In order to qualify, you must:

    1. be resident in England
    2. have a personal income of less than £25,000 (or receive qualifying benefits)
    3. have not completed one year or more on any full-time undergraduate programme at FHEQ level 4 or above, or completed 30 credits or more of OU study

    How to apply to study an Access module for free

    Once you've started the registration process, either online or over the phone, we'll contact you about your payment options. This will include instructions on how you can apply to study for free if you are eligible.

    If you're unsure if you meet the criteria to study for free, you can check with one of our friendly advisers on +44 (0)300 303 0069 or you can request a call back.

    Not eligible to study for free?

    Don't worry! We offer a choice of flexible ways to help spread the cost of your Access module. The most popular options include:

    • monthly payments through OUSBA
    • part-time tuition fee loan (you'll need to be registered on a qualification for this option)

    To explore all the options available to you, visit Fees and Funding.

    What's included

    All the content and activities for this module will be available via the module website, which also includes:

    • a week-by-week study planner
    • module materials
    • audio and video content
    • assessment guide
    • online tutorials and forums.

    You will need

    You will need to record an oral presentation as part of your assessed work on this module. We strongly recommend that you use a headset with a microphone, as using an external or integrated microphone and speakers could result in a poor-quality recording.

    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 W340 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.