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Civil justice and tort law

Qualification dates
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By studying this module, you’ll gain an understanding of the range of civil laws, as well as the operation of the civil justice system. You’ll develop knowledge of the issues relating to law-making in England and Wales, including key underpinnings of principles and actors operating in the legal system, as well as issues relating to access to justice and alternative dispute resolution. This module will also cover the substantive legal subject of tort law. A range of torts will be explored, including negligence, nuisance, and defamation.

What you will study

This module covers a range of topics relating to the operation of the civil law system in England and Wales, and it also covers the substantive law subject of tort law.

You’ll be introduced to the operation of the civil justice system in England and Wales, including looking at a range of areas of law which come under the umbrella term ‘civil law’. The civil law court system will be covered, as well as modern developments in the administration of civil justice. Key underpinnings of the legal system will be discussed, such as legal reasoning and legal precedent, as well as the role of various actors within the legal profession, including litigants and legal practitioners. You’ll have the opportunity to consider the ethical issue of some people being unable to obtain access to justice through the courts. You'll also consider wider critical approaches to understanding how the law is interpreted, including how issues such as judicial bias or policy can affect the development of the law.

You’ll also be introduced to a range of case law and legislation in the dynamic and constantly growing area of tort law. You’ll learn about a range of torts, such as negligence, which forms the basis of a lot of litigation, including claims relating to car accidents, accidents at work and other personal injury claims. The torts of nuisance and defamation will also be covered. Alternative approaches to tortious liability drawn from different jurisdictions across the world will also be explored.

Through the module, you'll be given the opportunity to engage with problem-solving scenarios to test your ability to apply case law and legislation to a range of issues and aid the development of your skills as a lawyer. You will also be given the opportunity to critically engage with legal arguments through analysis of academic materials and reflect on improvements which can be made to the existing law.

You'll develop a range of skills when undertaking this module, such as in communication, research, information technology, self-reflection, and critical analysis. In engaging with this module, you will have the opportunity to develop skills germane to a career as a legal professional. These skills are transferable to many contexts for a new prospective career or in your current employment in business, local and national government, education, charitable and non-governmental organisations, or other public-facing and regulatory roles.

Entry requirements

OU level 1 modules provide core subject knowledge and study skills needed for higher education and distance learning. It will give you the foundation knowledge and study skills to study law at a more advanced level (OU levels 2 and 3). By the end of your OU level 1 studies, you will be expected to be working at the level required of first-year undergraduate students.

If you are studying this module as part of the Bachelor of Laws (Honours) (LLB) (R81), then you will need to have studied or be studying on a previous presentation of Criminal law and the courts (W111) before you can begin W112.

What's included

You will be provided with the module textbook Tort Law 7th edition (Horsey and Rackley) and have access to a module website, which includes:

  • an eBook version of the module textbook
  • a week-by-week study planner
  • course-specific module materials
  • audio and video content
  • assignment details and submission section
  • online tutorial access.

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.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Online tutorials will be provided, and recordings of these will typically be made available to students. While you’re not obliged to attend any of these tutorial events, you are strongly encouraged to take part.

You will also have a selection of additional online tutorials focussing on direct study support, library skills and specific assessment support.


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

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying W112 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

Civil justice and tort law starts twice a year – in February and October. 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 2029.

Course work includes:

4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
2 Interactive computer-marked assignments (iCMAs)
No examination