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Helen Ryan

I have been teaching for the OU since 2006. I’ve taught exclusively on module W101, Introduction to Law, and its predecessor,W100. The module concentrates on the foundations of our legal system. It introduces students to the nature of law; what law is, how it is made and how the law operates. It explores some of the underpinning concepts of civil and criminal justice. The module is hugely important for students as it sets the basis for an understanding of the law and everything that will follow in their learning journey, including the development of crucial academic and key skills.

I’ve been an academic for over 20 years. I’ve been fortunate in that time to have worked in a number of exciting roles at a range of academic institutions. For about four years I worked as Academic Developer at the UK Centre for Legal Education at the University of Warwick. This was the specialist Law Subject Centre of the Higher Education Academy. In this role I worked with law schools across the UK helping them to develop best practice in teaching and learning in law. I then went on to found and run a brand new law school at a University in the South of England, which I ran successfully as Head of Department for nearly 10 years.

I’ve also served on a variety of committees including as Vice-Chair of the Association of Law Teachers and on the Executive Committee of Heads of University Law Schools.

My research areas have focussed in recent times on medical law and on children’s privacy rights.

In 2019 I decided that whilst I wanted to continue teaching it was time to step away from working full time. I’m now working solely as an Associate Lecturer for the OU and following my passions of gardening and walking in the lovely Dorset countryside close to my home with my dog and sometimes my husband comes along too! 

I’m also about to start an MA in History and will experience the Open University as a student for the first time! Very exciting!

I first became involved with the OU because, like many others, I had a colleague and friend who was already an Associate Lecturer. He was so enthusiastic about the way in which the law programme was structured and the high quality of learning and teaching delivery that I thought it might be something I’d like to be involved in. I applied for a role, and the rest, as they say,  is history.

I absolutely love what I do with the OU. Not only do I get to deliver some really excellent teaching materials but I work with some amazing students and get to support them through their first steps in learning law.

The students I teach are from a hugely diverse range of backgrounds, from those who are brand new to higher education and seeking to expand their employment opportunities, to those at the opposite end of their careers who may have long harboured an interest in the law and are studying out of interest and curiosity.

Each and everyone is special. I love seeing students blossom and believe that we work in partnership to achieve that. I’m proud to be a small cog in that process!