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    An undergraduate course.

Rules, rights and justice: an introduction to law

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This key introductory Level 1 course introduces the study of law and legal skills. It begins by looking at how rules develop within a society and how laws (in effect legal rules) are made, interpreted, and applied. Then, it examines the concepts of legal personality, unlawful conduct and states of mind. You will explore civil and criminal sanctions; issues raised by human rights legislation; and the concepts of rights and justice. Of particular interest as preparation for a law degree, the course also provides an excellent beginning if you wish to study other subjects. The course deals principally with the law of England and Wales.

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No current presentation - see Future availability

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2013.

What you will study

In this course you will develop a basic knowledge of the English legal system and will be introduced to a wide range of legal topics and issues. You'll also have an opportunity to develop introductory study skills (both legal and general study skills) and basic knowledge of the English legal system. It will be of relevance to you if you are interested in studying English law either for a qualification or for your own personal interest. You will be introduced to the nature and function of rules and law, to the distinctiveness of legal reasoning, and to the way in which law both responds to social, economic and technological change.

The course will enable you to demonstrate an understanding of: laws and law-making through the role of common law, Parliament and Europe; the concept of legal personality and what constitutes unlawful conduct in law; the role of the institutions involved in adjudication enforcement; and how the law develops in order to respond to changing social, political, technological and economic climates. You will be introduced to the ideas of proof and truth, fairness and procedural requirements in the adjudication and trial processes. The role of sanctions and the notion of rights in both the organisational and individual context will be studied. You will then look at law, justice and social change through the study of aspects of family law as well as the legal challenges posed by new technologies. The course will end by considering the idea of a just legal order and the concept of justice.

During the course, you’ll also learn to define and use legal terms and concepts and identify characteristics of a legal argument. Other legal skills you’ll develop include reading legal and other study material in an appropriate way; identifying the relevance of information; and interpreting, accessing and using different information sources and evidence.

As well as specifically legal skills, this course will also develop your general study skills as you will learn to:

  • take notes efficiently and effectively
  • interpret, access and use different information sources and evidence
  • select, synthesise and integrate material for further use
  • communicate effectively in an appropriate and accurate written form
  • interpret information from data presented in various forms
  • analyse tasks and make plans for tackling them
  • identify and evaluate material with conflicting conclusions
  • frame and address problems and issues
  • identify and critically evaluate relevant information.
  • monitor your personal progress, identify your own strengths and weaknesses and implement ways of improving your own learning.

Vocational relevance

The course develops vocationally-orientated skills that are transferable to the job market: good written and communication skills; critical thinking; ability to analyse, synthesise, reflect on and present arguments; and problem solving and evaluating issues.


This is a key introductory Level 1 course. Level 1 courses provide core subject knowledge and study skills needed for higher education and distance learning. 

If you are a non-graduate studying towards the OU Bachelor of Laws (Hons) and expect to complete your degree after 2016, you must study Rules, rights and justice: an introduction to law as part of your degree. It will give you the foundation knowledge and study skills to study law at a more advanced level. By the end of the course you will be expected to be working at the level required of first-year undergraduate students. 

If you are a graduate you do not need to study this course as part of your law degree, although some graduates chose to do so as it gives a solid foundation for their later studies in law.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the course, please seek advice from our Student Registration & Enquiry Service.

Outside the UK

Please note that this course is only concerned with the law of England and Wales.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

If you have a disability

The written study material is available in a comb-bound format and written transcripts are available for the audio-visual material. The printed study materials are available in the DAISY Digital Talking Book format. Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material may be available. Some components may not be fully accessible using a screen reader and musical notation and mathematical, scientific, and foreign language materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. You will need to spend time using a personal computer and the internet.  Our Services for disabled students website has the latest information about availability.

If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Visit our Services for disabled students website for more information, including:

  • help to determine your study requirements and how to request the support that you need  
  • Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs)
  • using a computer for OU study
  • equipment and other support services that we offer
  • examination arrangements
  • how to contact us for advice and support both before you register and while you are studying.

Study materials

What's included

A course introduction, course manuals, course readers, assessment guides and a DVD.

You will need

You will use your computer to write and submit your assignments for marking and you will have access to a website that offers resources for and news about this course. You will also use resources from the DVD which is viewable either through your computer DVD drive or a DVD player.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this course as it includes online activities, which you can access using a web browser.

  • If you have purchased a new desktop or laptop computer since 2007 you should have no problems completing the online activities.
  • If you’ve got a netbook, tablet or other mobile computing device check our Technical requirements section.
  • If you use an Apple Mac you will need OS X 10.6 or later.

You can also visit the Technical requirements section for further computing information including the details of the support we provide.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor with whom you can communicate by email, telephone and post, who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. Your tutor will also run face-to-face tutorials that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to attend. Contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service if you want to know more about study with the Open University before you register.


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

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.

The assignments are an essential part of the course, so you should complete all of them. You will be given more detailed information about the assessment when you begin the course.

Professional recognition

If you are intending to use this course as part of the LLB, and you hope to enter the Legal Professions, you should read carefully our Recognition leaflet 3.13 Law. 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 Recognition leaflet as it is your responsibility to ensure that you meet these requirements.

Future availability

The details given here are for the course that starts in October 2013. A replacement course is planned for October 2014.

How to register

We regret that we are currently unable to accept registrations for this course. Where the course is to be presented again in the future, relevant registration information will be displayed on this page as soon as it becomes available.

Student Reviews

“I really enjoyed this course, it was well-written and easy to understand. It has prepared me well for W200. Had ...”
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“Excellent introduction and basic overview of law. Enjoyable course, well paced and really interesting. ...”
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Distance learning

The Open University is the world’s leading provider of flexible, high quality distance learning. Unlike other universities we are not campus based. You will study in a flexible way that works for you whether you’re at home, at work or on the move. As an OU student you’ll be supported throughout your studies – your tutor or study adviser will guide and advise you, offer detailed feedback on your assignments, and help with any study issues. Tuition might be in face-to-face groups, via online tutorials, or by phone.

For more information read Distance learning explained.

Are you already an OU student ? Go to StudentHome for information on choosing your next module.
Course facts
About this course:
Course code W100
Credits 60
OU Level 1
SCQF level 7
FHEQ level 4
Course work includes:
5 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

Course satisfaction survey

See the satisfaction survey results for this course.

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