England.  Change location

SQE: legal system, public law and criminal litigation

Qualification dates
Start End

This module covers a range of relevant SQE1 functioning legal knowledge in the legal system of England and Wales, constitutional and administrative law, EU law, legal services, solicitors’ accounts, and criminal law and practice. You’ll have the opportunity to develop legal and transferable skills (including communication, research and numeracy), professional behaviours and commercial awareness. The module aims to deliver substantive and procedural law in a highly engaging and authentic way. This should support you if you’re preparing for SQE1 and enhance your employability.

What you will study

The module is divided into 16 units of study. The first eight units will provide you with a foundational understanding of key areas of law by covering:

  • an introduction to the module and an overview of professional conduct and ethics
  • how cases are funded, and aspects of the English and Welsh legal system
  • certain public law matters, including core state institutions, judicial review, European Union law, and Human Rights
  • solicitors’ accounts
  • criminal law.

The remaining eight units focus on criminal law in practice and will cover:

  • advising a defendant at the police station
  • bail, pre-trial procedure, and hearings
  • evidence, trial procedure, and plea in mitigation
  • sentencing, appeals, and the youth court.

Throughout the module, you'll have opportunities to reinforce and consolidate knowledge and develop skills through a variety of shorter and longer activities. The longer activities are designed to simulate a virtual working experience by setting the sorts of tasks typically undertaken by those training for a career in law. At the end of each unit of study, there’s a consolidation activity comprising multiple choice questions modelled on the approach taken in SQE1. You'll also be encouraged to reflect on ethical and professional conduct issues.

Professional recognition

The Foundations of Legal Knowledge (FLK) route of the Bachelor of Laws (Honours) (LLB) (graduate entry) will be accredited by the Council of Legal Education (Northern Ireland) as a recognised law degree, subject to time limits, exempting you from the academic stage of legal training to become a barrister or solicitor in Northern Ireland.

Completing the FLK route within the specified time limits will enable you to self-certify that you have fulfilled the requirements set by the Bar Standards Board to be exempt from the academic stage of training if you wish to become a barrister in England and Wales.

Entry requirements

You must have successfully completed 60 credits of legal study from OU level 2 modules prior to studying this OU level 3 module. If you will be studying this module as part of the:

  • Bachelor of Laws (Honours) (R81) or Bachelor of Laws (Honours) (graduate entry) (R82), you must have completed Public law (W211) and Contract law (W212)
  • previous versions of our law degrees Bachelor of Laws (Honours) (Q79) or Bachelor of Laws (Honours) (graduate entry) (Q80), you must have completed Contract law and tort law​ (W202) and Public law and criminal law (W203).

You must have a law degree which includes English and Welsh law and covers the seven foundations of legal knowledge if you will be studying this module as part of the Professional Certificate in Legal Practice: SQE1 (S36), or have completed:

  • a minimum of 120 credits from Law modules (which includes W211 and W212), or
  • W202 and W203.

You must also:

  • have at least nine hours available to study per week
  • be a competent computer user, including internet use and Office 365
  • have a strong command of reading and writing in English
  • have reasonable numeracy skills, as part of the module requires the completion of solicitors’ accounts.

Preparatory work

This module will build on your knowledge of the legal system of England and Wales, public law, and criminal law. It is therefore recommended that you look over materials and notes on these subject areas from any relevant previous study in preparation for the module.

If you are studying the Bachelor of Laws (Honours) (graduate entry) (R82), you will not have covered criminal law previously, and you are therefore strongly advised to prepare for this module by studying the supplementary materials on criminal law, which will be made available on the Law Study Home site.

What's included

You will be provided with six textbooks on the following areas:

  • Constitutional and administrative law
  • Criminal law
  • Criminal practice
  • Solicitors’ accounts
  • The legal system and services of England and Wales
  • Ethics and professional conduct

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

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • module-specific study materials
  • audio and video content
  • interactive activities
  • assignment details and submission section
  • online tutorial access and tutor support.

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

Throughout your module studies, you’ll get help and support from your assigned module tutor. They’ll help you by:

  • marking your assignments (TMA) and providing detailed feedback for you to improve
  • guiding you to additional learning resources
  • providing individual guidance, whether that’s for general study skills or specific module content
  • facilitating online discussions between your fellow students in the dedicated module and tutor group forums.

Module tutors also run online tutorials throughout the module. Where possible, recordings of online tutorials will be made available to students. While these tutorials won’t be compulsory for you to complete the module, you’re strongly encouraged to take part.

There will also be occasional one-off events on legal careers and employability.

Due to the vocational nature of this module, the module tutors will act similarly to training principals or mentors, having scheduled contact with you and provide encouragement and support. This individual contact will therefore be at a slightly higher level of frequency than you might have experienced on other OU level 3 modules.


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 W321 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

SQE: legal system, public law and criminal litigation starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2024. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2030.

Course work includes:

1 Tutor-marked assignment (TMA)
5 Interactive computer-marked assignments (iCMAs)
End-of-module assessment