What you will study
Throughout the module you will find a strong emphasis on law in context. This includes analysis of the interaction between law and the political, cultural and social contexts in which we live today as well as examination of these contexts from a historical perspective. As you work through the module you will be increasingly prompted towards recognising, examining, questioning and challenging in depth these legal contexts using your own legal reasoning.
The module is divided into four blocks:
Block 1: Gender, sexuality and law
This theme will look at the relationship between gender and law as well as sexuality and law. It will challenge the existing assumptions about the neutrality of law and explore the gendered nature of law, asking how does/should the law regulate and construct gender. Questions of how law interacts or should interact with the changing social concepts of gender and sexuality will also be addressed. In the final unit of the block you'll focus on challenging the gender stereotypes and assumptions regarding female perpetrators and their treatment in the criminal justice system (in the UK and in international context).
Block 2: Media, Internet and law
In this part of the module, you will critically consider the ever-increasing impact of the Internet on the legal regulation of cyberspace, the media and freedom of expression. In modern society, the Internet has become a part of everyday life, with millions of people actively participating in online spaces on a daily basis. The Internet has also become a space where political, economic and cultural views are expressed, including social and political protests. However, the increased online participation of users and its diverse nature has provoked questions about the legal regulation of online spaces. You'll be challenged to think critically about the legal implications of people’s participation in online spaces in contexts of human rights (freedom of expression), privacy and surveillance as well as the overall question of the legal regulation of online space.
Block 3A: Law and humanities
This block explores law in the context of humanities. Throughout this block, a sub-theme of Nazi Germany is adopted to provide you with concrete examples from a particular time period to explore the connections between the law and three key topics: the visual, language, and cultural property.
Starting with critical inquiry into how symbols, emblems, heraldry etc. was used by the Nazis in relation to and in accordance with the law to support and promote their ideology in the lead-up to WWII, you will proceed to explore the language used in the legal texts of this historical period. Finally, you will explore the legal issues surrounding cultural property of this period, the development of the international framework on protection of cultural property as well as the topic of return of cultural property after the war.
Block 3B: Law and science
In this block, you'll critically engage with issues arising in relation to the impact of science and developing technology on law. Starting with an exploration of the legal consequences of the use of robotics in various spheres of life, you will proceed to engage with the impact of cognitive neuroscience on law. In particular, you will have an opportunity to critically explore the question of how our sense of being an agent is viewed by the law when it determines criminal responsibility. Finally, the impact of “neurolaw” on the law of evidence will be addressed.
You will study three out of these four themes. In the latter part of the module, you will have an opportunity to choose the final block that you'll study, i.e. ‘Law and humanities’ (Block 3A) or ‘Law and science’ (Block 3B). The final piece of assessment, which takes a form of a research essay, will be on the topic of the theme of your choice.
Student Experience Room
If you’re considering studying this on a standalone basis or as part of your law degree at the OU, you can find out more from the module team chairs and previous students in a recording of our online event 'Choosing your OU level 3 optional law module’. This was held in the Student Experience room on the Law Study home page. You’ll also be able to find out about the other two optional modules for the law degree, Exploring legal boundaries (W350) and Justice in action (W360).
If you're seeking a career in law, this module offers you the opportunity to develop the key skills you'll require during your career. It also enables you to think about important issues and dilemmas concerning law and society which you may come across during your work. If you've other career goals, this module offers the opportunity to obtain and develop experience and skills that'll enhance your employability more generally. For example, gaining experience of carrying out independent research and communicating effectively both orally and in writing.
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.