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Exploring legal boundaries

This module will give you the opportunity to research a legal topic of your own choice. It will support your research of your chosen topic and help you to present your findings as a written report of your research methods and in poster format. You will work with other students to prepare your poster and will be encouraged to help each other in your academic endeavours.

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.
Level of Study
3 10 6

Study method

Module cost

Entry requirements

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What you will study

This module will enable you to develop critical research skills and present your findings in relation to a topic of your choice that has a legal focus. You'll be encouraged to explore the interrelationships within law and across disciplines. The aim is to enable you to explore legal boundaries by selecting your own choice of legally relevant subject matter. The module provides teaching and support for the development of a skills base to enable you to develop as a researcher. It will provide the scope to research comparative and interdisciplinary issues of relevance to law. Additionally, it will enable you to develop your skills of academic critique and to mature as a researcher. This will be achieved by a variety of means, including reflecting on peer-to-peer critique, tutor critique and personal reflection on research performance.

The type of skills covered will be relevant to:

  • planning, designing, and researching a legal topic in depth
  • the presentation of your ideas relating to the choice of a research topic in an appropriately focused and structured manner
  • reflection on your own research, presentation and interpersonal skills 
  • the formulation of an appropriately focused research question.

These skills are directly relevant to Personal Development Planning, so this module will help you to gain skills for whatever you plan to do after you have graduated.

The choice of question to study and research will be key to your success on this module. From the outset, you will be encouraged to engage with the process of choosing a research topic suitable for exploration in a research poster. You'll be encouraged to post an image to prompt discussion in OpenStudio in the first two weeks of the module to start a discussion with your peers about a topic that you might like to research. It is anticipated that you will not have experience of framing research questions, and therefore support in the form of written and interactive materials will support you through the mechanics of making a choice of topic to research. This support will continue throughout your research. This will assist you in formulating the topic appropriately and presenting your initial thoughts about your research.

The first assignment will enable dialogue between peers and tutors regarding your choice of question to research and the thinking behind selecting the topic, permitting you to adjust the research topic and question in the light of feedback. The second assignment enables you to reflect on your research for your poster and to present and critique both the methodology of your research and its findings.

Vocational relevance

This module will be relevant to any career that requires the planning of a research project including further academic research at masters or doctoral level.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Attendance at tutorials/ online sessions is not compulsory, but your ability to work with your peers and to complete the summative assessment will be severely compromised if you do not participate in them.

From the outset, you'll be able to obtain peer and tutor feedback on your reasoning relating to topic choice from your contributions to the Tutor Group Forum and OpenStudio, and by participating in the first learning event. All these things are essential to help you succeed and work towards submission of the first assessment.

You'll be required to book a one-to-one online meeting with the tutor, and you'll have the option of booking a second meeting if you wish.

You should use tutorials to receive tutor and peer feedback on your ideas and work, to reflect on your progress, and to offer constructive feedback on your peers’ ideas and work. Your reflection on these experiences will form an important part of the summative assessment for this module.

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.

Future availability

Exploring legal boundaries 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 February 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

Entry requirements

As this is a research module, you will need to have completed 120 credits at Stage 1 and 120 credits at Stage 2 or, if you were a graduate entrant to your degree programme, at least 60 credits at Stage 2.

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


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

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

01 Feb 2025 Jul 2025 £1818.00

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

This module is expected to start for the last time in February 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 21/07/2024.

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 not more 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

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

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • module guide and materials
  • audio and video content
  • assessment guide
  • small group online tuition, booked directly with your tutor. 

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 W350 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.