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Master of Laws

Course Description

Master of Laws

This qualification is designed to consider the role and place of law in an increasingly globalised world, and is suitable for law and non-law graduates as well as lawyers wanting to develop their interests. It takes a critical legal approach to study, using different perspectives and case studies to illustrate, explore, compare and contextualise topical legal issues. You will explore the interaction of law, law making bodies, institutions and regulators in an international context, the role and function of law in an increasingly global society, and the role of states, international institutions and multi-national companies. You will also consider contemporary legal issues such as corporate social responsibility, trans-national crime, humanitarian aid and security.

Key features of the course

• Explores methods of reasoning and analysis in law, and evaluates the complexities inherent in law, regulation and legal study
• Develops a range of transferable skills, including advanced legal research, that are attractive to employers
• Concludes with an in-depth piece of independent research on a topic within your chosen specialist subject area.

If you are interested in becoming a lawyer (solicitor or barrister) you need to study an undergraduate Bachelor of Laws (LLB) (Hons).

This qualification is eligible for a Postgraduate Loan available from Student Finance England.


There is a choice of routes through the qualification. You can start your studies with either of the compulsory modules Exploring legal meaning (W820) or Exploring the boundaries of international law (W821). These modules provide core postgraduate skills in legal methodology and research and knowledge of international law and legal thinking. They include a comparative approach. Or you can start your studies with Business, human rights law and corporate social responsibilities (W822), or an optional module from list B. If you are claiming credit transfer from another postgraduate provider you may not need to study an optional module. Your final module to complete this masters degree will be The law dissertation (W800).

To gain this qualification you need 180 credits as follows:

60 credits of compulsory modules:

• Exploring legal meaning (W820)
• Exploring the boundaries of international law (W821)


30 credits of optional modules from list A:

List A

• Business, human rights law and corporate social responsibility (W822)

• Or the 30-credit module Continuing professional development in practice (UYA810)*.

*Please note that UYA810 is part of the Postgraduate Certificate in Advanced Professional Practice (Employment Law Advice) qualification only available to those working for ACAS. Therefore if you do not hold this qualification W822 is currently a compulsory module in Group A.


30 credits from the optional modules in list B:

List B
• Capacities for managing development (T878)
• Conflict and development (T879)
• Continuing professional development in practice (U810)
• Development: context and practice (T877)
• Environmental monitoring and protection (T868)
• Institutional development (TU872)
• Making environmental decisions (T891)


60 credits from the following compulsory module:

• The law dissertation (W800)

The modules quoted in this description are currently available for study. However, as we review the curriculum on a regular basis, the exact selection may change over time.

Credit transfer

If you’ve successfully completed some relevant postgraduate study elsewhere, you might be able to count it towards this qualification, reducing the number of modules you need to study. You should apply for credit transfer as soon as possible, before you register for your first module. For more details and an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.

Visit the Master of Laws page on the Open University website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Raymond Taylor

My first degree was a BA (Hons) Humanities that combined History (major) and law. That was way back in 1986 but I have maintained an interest in law ever since, and for the past few years have been writing court reports on a freelance basis for an online publisher. I was a journalist many years ago. It provides some much needed extra cash and helps me keep my hand in. My employer is happy to let me do this as it does not take up much of my time and there is no conflict of interest. I have also reviewed a couple of law-related books for the Prison Service Journal. So it was a natural progression to think about how I could extend my legal knowledge on a more formal basis.

Taking a Masters degree with a regular University would have proved difficult to fit in with my shift patterns, which are subject to constant change. So the OU approach is ideal for me. I can fit my study in between my working shifts.

I find the subject matter highly relevant to my work. Although a detailed knowledge of law is certainly not a requirement it adds another dimension of interest to what is a fascinating area of work. Furthermore, my second and current module is one of the optional modules: Forensic Psychology, which is of course highly relevant to the various areas of work within a prison.

Developing academic skills has helped me in my work in a number of ways. It helps me to think more about what I do and how it fits into the broader picture of custodial care. And when I research a topic for, say, a course assignment, I often stumble across articles of interest to my work in the prison service.

From a personal perspective, the main benefit of postgraduate education is that it helps me to extend my reading and research skills. Just as it is good for the body to do physical exercise and push yourself just that bit further, so it is good to extend intellectual skills by pushing the mind.


Entry Requirements

You should hold a UK honours degree (or equivalent or recognised overseas qualification) or relevant professional legal experience. If you hold a qualification that you believe is an equivalent level to a UK honours degree or if you lack formal academic qualifications but have relevant work experience, please contact us.The modules are taught in English, and your spoken and written English must be of an adequate standard for postgraduate study. If English is not your first language you can seek assessment under the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Please see their website for details.

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