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Exploring legal boundaries

Qualification dates
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This module will give you the opportunity to research a legal topic of your own choice. It will support your research of your chosen topic and help you to present your findings as a written report of your research methods and in poster format. You will work with other students to prepare your poster and will be encouraged to help each other in your academic endeavours.

What you will study

This module will enable you to develop critical research skills and present your findings in relation to a topic of your choice that has a legal focus. You'll be encouraged to explore the interrelationships within law and across disciplines. The aim is to enable you to explore legal boundaries by selecting your own choice of legally relevant subject matter. The module provides teaching and support for the development of a skills base to enable you to develop as a researcher. It will provide the scope to research comparative and interdisciplinary issues of relevance to law. Additionally, it will enable you to develop your skills of academic critique and to mature as a researcher. This will be achieved by a variety of means, including reflecting on peer-to-peer critique, tutor critique and personal reflection on research performance.

The type of skills covered will be relevant to:

  • planning, designing, and researching a legal topic in depth
  • the presentation of your ideas relating to the choice of a research topic in an appropriately focused and structured manner
  • reflection on your own research, presentation and interpersonal skills 
  • the formulation of an appropriately focused research question.

These skills are directly relevant to Personal Development Planning, so this module will help you to gain skills for whatever you plan to do after you have graduated.

The choice of question to study and research will be key to your success on this module. From the outset, you will be encouraged to engage with the process of choosing a research topic suitable for exploration in a research poster. You'll be encouraged to post an image to prompt discussion in OpenStudio in the first two weeks of the module to start a discussion with your peers about a topic that you might like to research. It is anticipated that you will not have experience of framing research questions, and therefore support in the form of written and interactive materials will support you through the mechanics of making a choice of topic to research. This support will continue throughout your research. This will assist you in formulating the topic appropriately and presenting your initial thoughts about your research.

The first assignment will enable dialogue between peers and tutors regarding your choice of question to research and the thinking behind selecting the topic, permitting you to adjust the research topic and question in the light of feedback. The second assignment enables you to reflect on your research for your poster and to present and critique both the methodology of your research and its findings.

Entry requirements

As this is a research module, you will need to have completed 120 credits at Stage 1 and 120 credits at Stage 2 or, if you were a graduate entrant to your degree programme, at least 60 credits at Stage 2.

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

What's included

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

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • module guide and materials
  • audio and video content
  • assessment guide
  • small group online tuition, booked directly with your tutor. 

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

Attendance at tutorials/ online sessions is not compulsory, but your ability to work with your peers and to complete the summative assessment will be severely compromised if you do not participate in them.

From the outset, you'll be able to obtain peer and tutor feedback on your reasoning relating to topic choice from your contributions to the Tutor Group Forum and OpenStudio, and by participating in the first learning event. All these things are essential to help you succeed and work towards submission of the first assessment.

You'll be required to book a one-to-one online meeting with the tutor, and you'll have the option of booking a second meeting if you wish.

You should use tutorials to receive tutor and peer feedback on your ideas and work, to reflect on your progress, and to offer constructive feedback on your peers’ ideas and work. Your reflection on these experiences will form an important part of the summative assessment for this module.

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.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying W350 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

Exploring legal boundaries starts twice a year – in October and February. 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 2030.

Course work includes:

2 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment