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Equity, trusts and land

This module emphasises critical engagement with laws in context. Equity, trusts and land are examined as individual laws, as well as through interactions with the political, cultural, social and economic contexts of today and those possible in the future. Throughout the module students are prompted towards the recognition and examination of these contexts and interactions, as well as the need to question and challenge them in-depth using reasoning and curiosity. This module promotes individual research but also, and more importantly, collaboration and conversation within communities of students and academics in order to help nurture confidence, knowledge and skills.

What you will study

This module has been designed to examine the three areas of law both individually and together, in a manner that promotes deep analysis.

The module starts by exploring equity, which means interrogating the tension between the law and the foundations of justice and fairness within the legal landscape, particularly in relation to property. Thousands of years of philosophy, politics and legal reasoning have fermented to form the foundations of today’s equity and some of those ideas will be explored via equity’s ‘operative’ procedures, doctrines and rules, and most notably via its remedies (specific performance, rescission etc.)  In fact, because we find equity in so many diverse areas of law and life, it might arguably be better thought of in the plural rather than the singular, as equities.

In trusts there is a rich historical narrative of proprietary and financial management and manipulation that continues to evolve in the 21st century. We find these evolutions in many forms, including creative ‘tax management’ schemes and products and the work of charities, as well as the dawning of a digital age in relation to trusts. You will critically examine where these evolutions leave the trust today and, importantly where it is might be going in the future. Trusts will be examined from both a conceptual basis and from a practical and professional standpoint. Both strands engage with the law in a demonstrably critical fashion.

Land law
In land law we find, quite simply, life, and not just the procedures, doctrines and rules used by conveyancers. Land law has long been dominated by a mere focus on ‘black-letter’ law and the assumption of property ownership. A key aim of the land law section is to challenge such assumptions through the ‘cracked lens of ownership’ – that is, not just via ownership, but via the ideas and practicalities of pre-ownership, anti-ownership, pseudo-ownership and post-ownership. One approach taken is interrogation of some of the normative positions in land law – such as covenants, easements and land rights – from a more political perspective that will question entrenched notions of ownership in the law and wider society of England and Wales.

This module has been designed as a series of eight blocks, each of which is divided into a number of units. Each unit is the equivalent of a week’s study.

As you progress through the module, the amount of directed learning will be reduced. At the start of the module, you'll be guided as to how to spend almost all your study time; by the end, only about 50% of your study time will be directed, and you will be expected to manage and conduct your own independent research for the remainder of the time.

If you have studied any OU law modules before, you may find that the structure and content of this module differs from them as this module has a very specific structure, and combines two approaches to content in a way that aims to promote curiosity as much as critical examination of the law. You have one single bespoke textbook especially tailored to provide you with the relevant substantive ‘black-letter’ law for all three subject areas – you might like to think of this as a ‘repository’ of the law that is of concern to this module.

You'll also have ‘wrap-around’ critical materials that take-on various forms, including audio and film. The aim is to develop a greater depth of appreciation for law in context, and for you to start asking your own detailed and critical questions of the law. 

You will learn

After studying the module you should be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • remedies, principles, doctrines and foundations of equity 
  • history, principles, doctrines and rules of trusts law 
  • history, principles, doctrines and rules of land law 
  • political, social and economic factors impacting equity, trusts and land law.

Professional recognition

As a core module for the attainment of the LLB QLD at The Open University Law School, this module is recognised by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and the Bar Standards Board (BSB).

Entry requirements

In order to study this module, you must have successfully completed 60 credits of study at Stage 2.

This module will be of potential interest to you if you enjoy philosophy, politics, economics or social sciences, as well as traditional law. As this is a Stage 3 law module, it includes some complex legal ideas. It is therefore highly recommended that you have successfully completed at least 60 credits of law at Stage 2, with either Contract law and tort law (W202), or Public law and criminal law (W203).

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

What's included

You'll be provided with a textbook and have access to a module website, which includes:

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • a module guide
  • 20 online units divided into eight themed blocks
  • audio and video content
  • assessment guide
  • an electronic version of the textbook
  • 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 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

Your tutor will be responsible for marking your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

You will be able to attend learning events designed to support your studies. You are very strongly encouraged to participate in learning events because they will enable you to debate the module with other students, and give you the opportunity to frame and defend a point of view. They will also give you an opportunity to synthesise your knowledge, using information gained from your research, and building on your collaborative work with other students. You will be required to work collaboratively with other students as part of your summative assessment.

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 above.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying W302 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

Equity, trusts and land starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2022. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2025.

Course work includes:

4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
1 Interactive computer-marked assignment (iCMA)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school