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Should I start with a standalone module or register on a qualification?

The OU offers a wide range of highly respected undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications - degrees, foundation degrees, diplomas and certificates - or standalone modules which can be studied individually and which could earn you credits towards a degree.

There are a number of factors that may influence your study choices and your funding options may be affected by your decision. There is further information on what you can expect to pay and the funding options available on our website Study Explained. You may also wish to consider how much time you have available and the level at which you want to study.

For more information on choosing the right course, you can visit our website Choosing the right course. You may find it helpful to talk through your study options with us. Please contact us on +44 (0) 845 300 60 90 to be put in touch with an adviser.


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How much study time will I have to commit to?

The amount of time that you will be required to study depends on the module that you are studying. Modules that earn more credits will take greater time and effort. A rough guide of how much time you should plan to spend on your studies is shown below:

  • 10 credit module: 6 to 8 hours a week for 20 weeks.
  • 30 credit module: 16 hours a week for a 6 month module, or 8 hours a week for a 9 month module.
  • 60 credit module: 16 hours a week for 9 months.


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Do you offer GCSEs or A levels?

The Open University does not offer GCSEs or A-Levels.

The National Extension College, based in Cambridge, offers GCSEs, AS and A2 levels and other further education and pre-degree courses by distance learning. You can contact them on 0800 389 2839 or through The National Extension College website.


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How can I order a printed prospectus?

You can download a prospectus or request a printed copy online.

If you would like more information on a course or module, you can also search all OU study and qualifications on the Study at the OU website.


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Can I study full time?

The Open University offers a great deal of flexibility in its study patterns but this flexibility has major implications for how intensely you end up working. Full-time study involves studying more than one module at a time and studying around 120 credits per year. If you are thinking of studying full-time you will need to plan your studies wisely and will have to make significant adjustments to how you allocate your weekly study time to give yourself every chance of succeeding.

On average, this is how intensely you will be required to study:

*30 credits: around 8 to 9 hours per week (depending on the length of the module),
*60 credits: around 16 to 18 hours per week,
*120 credits: around 32 to 36 hours per week (equivalent to studying full time).

Everyone works at a different pace and there may be minor variations in how long modules last. In addition, some modules may have study breaks built in. For this reason our estimates should be taken as an approximation. Around 60 to 80% of this time will be directed through the module materials and the balance will be used for independent learning, review and revision.

When you choose which modules you will study simultaneously, you need to think about how many hours are required and whether you can fit it in.

Further resources will be available to help with your module choices when you have registered for your qualification.


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Will my previous study count towards an OU qualification?

You may be eligible for credit transfer towards certain OU qualifications if your previous study was:

  • at the UK higher education level
  • formally assessed
  • essentially academic
  • undertaken in the preceding 16 years.

If we make an award of transferred credit for your previous study it will reduce the number of modules you need to study with us to gain an OU qualification.

The Credit Transfer website explains which types of previous study, including certain professional and overseas qualifications, are eligible towards our qualifications; how much transferred credit you can count towards specific OU qualifications; and how to apply for credit transfer.


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I cannot see the course or module I want.

You can see the qualifications available to study with the Open University on our Study at the OU website. For more information contact our Student Registration and Enquiry Service on 0845 300 60 90.

GCSEs, AS and A2 levels
The OU does not offer these courses. The National Extension College, based in Cambridge, offers GCSEs, AS and A2 levels and other further education and pre-degree courses by distance learning. You can contact them on 01223 400350 or through The National Extension College website.

For information about other learning providers in your area you can contact the following:

  • Learndirect on 0800 100 900
  • Your local further education college or adult education centre
  • Your local library.


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Do all modules have an exam?

Open University modules have some sort of assessment at the end but not every module has an exam. You can check the assessment arrangements for modules on the individual module description pages on Study at the OU or on your module page via StudentHome.

If your module has an exam you'll be given the address of the examination centre and the examination date when your study starts. Exams may seem daunting, but you can expect to be supported through exams and assessments, and you can find out more on the Skills for OU Study website.


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What can I do if the OU doesn't offer modules or qualifications in the subject I am interested in?

There might be information on studying your chosen subject at www.learndirect.co.uk or you can contact learndirect on 0800 101 901. You can also contact the National Extension College, based in Cambridge, for information on GCSEs, AS and A2 levels and other further education and pre-degree courses by distance learning. You can contact them on 0800 389 2839 or through The National Extension College website.


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Can I talk to an adviser face to face?

The Open University is a distance learning organisation and so most of your contact with us will be over the phone or by email.

However we do hold regular events in the local community where you can come and discuss your queries. See Events near you. Once registered, you will be assigned a student support team to assist you with study-related issues.


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What if I change my mind after I have registered to study with the OU?

The Deferrals and Withdrawals Policy provides further information for students who have changed their mind after registering for a qualification or module.

The Fee Rules explains any entitlement you may have for a refund or fee discount on a future registration if you change your module, if you defer your studies or if you wish to end your studies.


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Do I need a specific computer to study with the OU?

For most OU study you will need at least occasional access to a computer, and certain modules may need a particular specification of computer. Some OU study, for example some maths and computing modules, may require you to upload specialist software.

Read about different ways to use a computer in your module by visiting our PC4Study website


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How is an Open University qualification recognised?

Open University qualifications are the mark of academic success and also have added value because they show that you have commitment, ambition and self discipline, qualities that are important to prospective employers. The OU is a highly respected centre of learning and an OU degree is equivalent to a degree from any other UK university.

Many professional bodies also recognise OU courses, modules and qualifications - for example the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE), the British Psychological Society (BPS), the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

Qualifications obtained from a British university do not automatically confer eligibility either for professional recognition or for entry to postgraduate programmes outside the UK. See recognition information for further details.

The OU is also very popular with employers. They know that OU students:

  • Get the most up-to-date knowledge
  • Continue working while they study, and apply what they learn immediately
  • Prove they have the skills and determination to succeed.

Over the years, more than 50,000 organisations - like British Telecom, Lloyds Pharmacy and Royal Bank of Scotland - have sponsored their staff to study with the OU.


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What kind of career will an Open University Degree prepare me for?

The Open University Careers Advisory Service website offers a wealth of information about careers including a section on OU Study and Your Career, outlining potential career opportunities related to OU study.

As a prospective student we can refer you to careers information to help you decide what to study at the OU. You may be signposted to an external career guidance agency if you need more in-depth guidance. When you have registered as an OU student you will have access to the full range of support offered by the OU Careers Advisory Service.


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Can I change my qualification or module?

Some students change their mind about what they want to study part way into a module or qualification. What is possible will depend on what you want to do. Generally, it is easier to change early in your studies - during Stage 1, for instance - and if you remain within your subject area. If you wish to change to something very different, for example, from an arts to a science degree, you may need to take additional modules and this could have time and cost implications.

If you would like to discuss changing your qualification or module we strongly recommend that you contact us on +44 (0)845 300 60 90 to speak to one of our advisers about your options.


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What modules do I need to achieve a particular qualification?

The qualification descriptions on Study at the OU shows the modules available for each qualification. Click on the link to your chosen qualification to see the modules required, and the subjects that you will cover.


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What module should I start with?

If you are registering for a qualification the qualification description on Courses shows the module choices available for each qualification. Click on the link to your chosen qualification to see the modules required at the first stage of your studies


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