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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 environments. 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.   

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

W340

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 module levels correspond to these frameworks.
Level of Study
OU SCQF FHEQ
3 10 6

Study method

Module cost

Entry requirements

Student Reviews

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What you will study

Throughout the module, you will find a strong emphasis on law in context. This includes analysing of the interaction between law and the political, cultural and social contexts in which we live today, as well as an 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.

After studying the first two themes, you'll have an opportunity to choose either law and humanities or law and environments. The final piece of assessment, which takes the form of a research essay, will be on a topic in whichever of those themes you choose.

Block 1: Law and gender
This theme will look at the relationship between gender and law. It will challenge existing assumptions about the neutrality of law and explore the gendered nature of law. In the second 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 international context).

Block 2: Law and the body
In this block you're introduced to four contemporary topics on law and the body. At all stages of life, the body is subject to law and control, but how bodies are controlled and how bodies are permitted to be acted on changes in different circumstances. The first unit discusses consent to bodily harm through established case law, with a particular focus on how the body is permitted to act in sporting spheres. The second unit continues with issues surrounding law’s regulation of the body through the introduction of illegal drugs and safe injection sites. The third unit considers experiences of healthcare in a socio-legal context, while the fourth unit explores the relationship between law and the body in the context of neuroscientific, societal, legal and philosophical interpretations of what it may mean to be conscious of our actions.

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 a critical inquiry into how symbols, emblems, heraldry etc., were 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'll proceed to explore the language used in the legal texts of this historical period. Finally, you'll explore the legal issues surrounding cultural property of this period, the development of the international framework on protecting cultural property as well as the topic of return of cultural property after the war.

Block 3B: Law and environments
This block critically engages with three contemporary issues relating to law in three very diverse and exciting environments. The first unit challenges you to think critically about the legal implications of people’s participation in online spaces in the contexts of human rights (freedom of expression), and what could, and should, be subject to legal controls. The second unit engages with the issue of legal controls in our lived environment and climate change. The third unit takes us out of this world and into outer space, while encouraging us to think critically about how and why law operates in space.

 

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 intend 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 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.

Assessment

The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box.

One of the tutor-marked assignments is an oral presentation and you will be required to use Audio Recording Tool to record your presentation and submit it. The end-of-module assessment is a research essay and an opportunity to conduct your own small-scale research.

Future availability

Law, society and culture starts twice a year – in October and February. This page describes the module that will start in October 2024 and February 2025. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2030.

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:

2 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment


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.

Register

Start End England fee Register
05 Oct 2024 Mar 2025 £1818.00

Registration closes 05/09/24 (places subject to availability)

Register
01 Feb 2025 Jul 2025 £1818.00

Registration closes 09/01/25 (places subject to availability)

Register
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 receive 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 2025. Fees typically increase annually. For further information about the University's fee policy, visit our Fee Rules

This information was provided on 23/05/2024.

Can you study an Access module for free?

Depending on eligibility and availability of places, you could apply to study your Access module for free.

To qualify, you must:

  1. be resident in England
  2. have a household income of less than £25,000 (or be in receipt of a qualifying benefit)
  3. have not completed one year or more on any full-time undergraduate programme at FHEQ level 4 or above or successfully completed 30 credits or more of OU study within the last 10 years

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 and funded places are still available.

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 Ventura 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 pages.