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Contract law and tort law

This module explores a range of rights and obligations. You will examine how contracts are formed, their terms and how they end. Using commercial and consumer contexts you will consider the policy and practice underpinning the development and growth of contract law and its international aspects. The law of torts is then explored. A range of torts including negligence, nuisance and trespass are examined and set in the context of policy and public interest. You will then consider the growing range of commercial torts. Case studies are used throughout and a comparative approach is taken which considers developments in other jurisdictions.

What you will study

The module examines contract and torts through the common law system with some comparisons with civil law systems. You will be introduced to the fundamental principles of the subject and an opportunity to acquire a depth of knowledge and an understanding of the legal rules dealing with contract and tort.

Contract law

The module starts with an introduction to the law of contract and examines the development of contract and torts within an historical context. You are then introduced to the elements of a contract and the case law that has provided the legal rules which establish whether or not a contract will be legally enforceable.

You will be introduced to the materials dealing with the legal rules which have identified the obligations placed upon parties within a contract. These obligations (terms) are introduced into a contract and become legally enforceable. You will consider the nature of these terms through specific cases and will develop an understanding of the different types of terms and how the courts and legislation control the use of different terms within consumer and commercial contracts. There is an opportunity for you to engage with the materials by examining the subject through a number of problem solving scenarios whilst drawing upon case law and legislation. This will also provide an opportunity for you to consider alternative arguments through academic materials which have either criticised the legal rules or considered an alternative legal system to rectify any perceived problems.

The latter stages of the contract section of the module deals with issues which may affect the validity of a contract and whether or not it is enforceable. You are then introduced to materials dealing with the discharge of a contract and will also examine the ways in which a contract can come to an end and the possible remedies which are available to the parties when there is a dispute.

Tort law

The second half of this module focuses on tortious obligations such as negligence and personal injury claims. This is a dynamic subject and is constantly growing through case law and the introduction of new legislation. You will be provided with an opportunity to engage with the legal rules and apply them in a problem solving context.

You will be introduced to the legal rules dealing with psychiatric harm and the case law that has developed this subject area. There will be an opportunity to consider the policy decisions behind some of these cases and for you to formulate a critical opinion.

You will also be introduced to the law of nuisance and occupier’s liability. These are also torts (civil wrongs) which affect individuals and corporate bodies such as companies. The rules that govern these particular torts have developed through case law and legislation which has supplemented this area of the law.

Practical application of the law

Additional benefits obtained through studying this module are the transferable skills both academically and through a practical application of the law. The module will give you the opportunity to address the development of the legal rules dealing with contract and torts and will provide you with the skills needed for both an academic and employment environment whilst considering the materials and engaging with the activities. For example, you will undertake some short activities which are linked to specific materials and this in turn supports the growth of personal skills such as communication skills, research skills, information technology skills, problem solving skills and self-appraisal through the consolidation activities which are included at the end of every unit.

The online materials for this module are made available for you and will give you direct access to the related sources, such as legal databases which are needed to complete some of the activities. This will also enhance your skills whilst dealing with these legal databases and at the same time developing your research skills.

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.

Entry requirements

If you already have a degree then you are not required to have studied law before, but this is an OU level 2 module and you will need the study skills required for this level of study,

If you are new to study at university level, or are returning after some time, we recommend that you first study an OU level 1 law module.

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

What's included

You'll be provided with two text books:

  • Furmston, M. Law of Contract 
  • Steele, J. Tort Law, Text, Cases and Materials.

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

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • module materials
  • assessment guides
  • online tutorials and forums 
  • electronic versions of the text books.

Computing requirements

You'll need a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of 64-bit Windows 10 (note that Windows 7 is no longer supported) or macOS and broadband internet access.

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

You'll have a tutor with whom you can communicate by email, online forum, online conferencing, telephone and if required post.Your tutor will help you with the study material, mark and comment on your written work, and provide advice and guidance, if you need it. Your tutor will also run face-to-face and online tutorials that you are encouraged to attend. You will also be offered three, one-to-one, sessions with your tutor to support you with your studies.

We aim to provide face-to-face tutorials in a range of locations students can travel to, though we cannot guarantee availability close to where you live, in specific locations, or locations that have been used previously. Student numbers on the module, and where tutors are based, will affect the locations of where tutorials are held, and what online alternatives are provided. Recordings will typically be made available to 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.

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.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying W202 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

Contract law and tort law starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2022 when we expect it to start for the last time.

Course work includes:

4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
No examination
No residential school

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