jQuery: how to i grab elements of a certain depth?

Given the following html:

<div class='module'>
   <div id='a' class='element'>
      <div class='element'></div>
      <div class='element'></div>
   <div id='b' class='element'></div>
      <div id='c' class='element'></div>

What should the jquery selector look like in order to grab the first descendants of class "element", but not any of the descendants which have the class element. To clarify, the selector should return the elements with id a,b,c as assigned above.

$('.module .element:XXXX'); ???
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the markup you posted is not valid. You are not closing the <div id='a'>

If a, b, and c are at the same level immediately after module then use:
.module > .element.

otherwise you can try the filter method:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN"

<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">
		<script type="text/javascript" src="http://code.jquery.com/jquery-latest.js"></script>

			$(".module .element").filter(function(){ return $(this).parent().attr('class')=='module' || ($(this).parent().parent().attr('class')=='module' && $(this).parent().attr('class')=='');}).each(function(){


<div id='module' class='module'>
	<div id='a' class='element'>
		<div id='a1' class='element'>a - child 1</div>
		<div id='a2' class='element'>a - child 2</div>
	<div id='b' class='element'>b - child</div>
		<div id='c' class='element'>c - child</div>


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