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Law making in Scotland

This module will introduce you to the Scottish Legal System. It explores the role and function of the Scottish Parliament and Courts and their relationship with the UK Parliament and UK Supreme Court. You'll be asked to consider the distinct nature of Scottish legal system and Scots law and the influence both they and Scottish lawyers have had internationally. You'll also explore the role of those working within the Scottish Legal System and the role played by individuals in law making more widely. Throughout the module there are activities designed to develop both study and legal skills and to build confidence in using basic legal skills.

Standalone study only

This module is available for standalone study only. Any credits from this module cannot be counted towards an OU qualification.


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

The module is divided into five sections covering a range of topics and providing an element of choice.  Students study three of the following four topics: The Scottish Parliament and law making, Scottish Courts and the law, legal skills and debates in Scotland, Society and the law: Scottish Legal Heroes, before moving on to consider study and legal skills in more detail.

Scottish courts and the law

Here you consider the role courts play society in ensuring that justice is done and seen to be done. You'll explore the  function and purpose of the courts in Scotland and consider the way in which cases come to court, the difference between the criminal and civil justice systems, the separation of powers, how individuals may become involved with the court system, the alternatives to courts that have emerged in recent decades and possibilities for the future.

The Scottish Parliament and law making

Here the role of the Scottish Parliament in its law making is considered. You explore how, and why, laws are made by both the Scottish and UK Parliaments. You'll learn about the meaning of specific terms such as devolved matters, reserved matters, legislative competence, subordinate legislation and consider changes in the legal culture of Scotland which took place at the end of the twentieth century. You'll also be introduced to reading Bills and Acts and learn about how citizens can become involved in the law-making process.

Legal skills and debates in Scotland

Legal skills are an important and transferable aspect of legal study. Here you consider the role of law and legal skills and consider how the development of new laws reflects changes in society. You'll read legislation, court judgments, learn about the art of legal writing and reasoned opinion and explore how laws are applied and interpreted by lawyers and the judiciary.

Society and the law: Scottish legal heroes

Law plays an important role in society. A role that extends beyond legislatures and the courts. Here you consider how law has been used to respond to developments in society and explore whether it should influence them. You'll look at how Scotland has influenced the development of laws at a national and global level, with examples of how individuals, institutions and organisations have made a difference by challenging the law or legal system. You'll consider how words such as principled, integrity, conscience, duty, justice, fairness are used in relation to law and legal systems and their relevance in contemporary Scotland.

The final section of the course is divided into five blocks which cover evaluating sources of information, reading for academic study, critical thinking and persuasive writing. Reflective skills from an important start of study and opportunities are also provided for reflection.

WXM151 is accessed via the OU’s VLE. In addition, four of the five sections of the module are also available on OpenLearn the OU’s free to access platform. These are The Scottish Parliament and law making, Scottish Courts and the law, legal skills and debates in Scotland, Society and the law: Scottish Legal Heroes. These can be accessed at any time and students should keep their completion badges as proof of study.

Study of your choice of three from the sections: The Scottish Parliament and law making, Scottish courts and the law, Legal skills and debates in Scotland, Society and the law: Scottish legal heroes, should be completed prior to the February for which you intend to enrol. This can either be achieved through OpenLearn study or by early registration. This approach has been chosen as it enables students to choose to study over a timeframe that meets their individual study needs.

You will learn

From studying this module you will be able to:

  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of how law is made in Scotland
  • analyse, explain and evaluate Scottish law making and Scottish legal culture
  • select, interpret, communicate information relevant to law making in Scotland in a way appropriate to your subject, purpose and audience
  • digital literacy, use digital tools for learning and working
  • articulate and engage with relevant legal and ethical issues
  • demonstrate insight into personal goals, preferences and aptitudes.

Vocational relevance

This module develops a number of key transferable skills such as developing a persuasive argument, digital literacy skills and reflective learning.

Teaching and assessment

Study support

You will have support of a study advisor and access to an online forum for discussion and advice.

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 will be expected to submit your end-of-module assessment online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must contact your study advisor to get agreement to submit your assessment on paper. 

Future availability

Law making in Scotland starts once a year – in February. This page describes the module that will start in February 2023. We expect it to start for the last time in February 2025. 


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:

    End-of-module assessment
    No residential school

    Entry requirements

    To study this module, you must have completed three badged open courses in the Law in Scotland programme and obtained statements of participation on completion. You will be required to provide proof of this prior to starting this module. 

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


    Start End England fee Register
    04 Feb 2023 Apr 2023 £538.00

    Registration closes 12/01/23 (places subject to availability)

    This module is expected to start for the last time in February 2025.

    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 06/10/2022.

    What's included

    You will have access to the module website.

    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 WXM151 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.