Skip to content
Skip to main content

About this free course

Become an OU student

Download this course

Share this free course

Judicial decision making
Judicial decision making

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Judicial decision making


Judges play a key role in a common law legal system such as that of England and Wales. But to outside observers, the way they arrive at their decisions may be something of a mystery. This course seeks to shed light on this process. The course starts by explaining how judges make factual findings from evidence, how they choose how a case should be decided, and how they explain their thinking. Key to all of these processes is the law, which influences judges at every stage.

To explain the role of the law, the course starts by focussing on the easier cases where the law is certain. As the course progresses, it introduces the harder cases where the law is uncertain and looks at how judges and lawyers navigate this uncertainty. As the challenges of uncertainty are introduced, the course also looks at fundamental debates concerning judicial decision making, in particular the issues of representativeness of the judiciary, bias, and whether judges make law.

This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University course W112 Civil justice and tort law [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .