Your feedback is important to us
Please take two minutes at the end of your visit to help us improve our information and services.
Skip to content The Open University

Introducing the social sciences - part one

On this page

This key introductory Level 1 module provides an approachable and contemporary introduction to the disciplines and subjects that form the social sciences, as well as the questions and issues that social scientists investigate and explore. It tackles everyday issues in an appropriate way, so that you can build on what you already know and gain a solid grounding in study techniques and social science skills and debates. Combining this with another 30-credit course – such as Discovering psychology (DSE141) – is an excellent choice if you want a gradual entry into the social sciences.

Register for the course

Start End Fee Register
- - -

No current presentation - see Future availability

This course is expected to start for the last time in February 2014.

What you will study

This course is an ideal introduction to the social sciences – psychology, social policy and criminology, geography and environment, politics and international studies, economics and sociology – through study of contemporary UK society. Using a blend of text, audio, DVD and online materials, you’ll explore a wide range of topics, including questions of society’s relationship to the environment, questions of identity and issues of social order and governance – all considered in their national and international contexts – that will equip you with a range of skills for independent study and for your personal and working life.

The course-wide questions are: How is society made and repaired? How are differences and inequalities produced? How do we know? Social sciences answers to these questions are explored by looking at three strands of study materials called: Material Lives, Connected Lives and Ordered Lives. The course is introduced by a DVD and has an integral virtual learning environment (VLE) throughout that complements the text-based materials.

Material Lives considers how the making of society involves not only relations between people, but also relations between people and things and their environments; how society shapes and is shaped not just by humans but by material objects and the environment; and some of the consequences of the fact that our lives are influenced by both the human and material worlds. This strand is developed through an examination of consumption and consumer society, questions of power and markets, and issues of waste and sustainability.

Connected Lives also considers people’s connections to material places but the focus is on the people themselves and how they are connected and disconnected from one another, how they see themselves and others, where they live and the mobility of things and people involved in making and breaking connections. This strand is developed through examining questions of identity in relation to personal and social lives, issues around our connections to place and the natural and built environment, and the social life of neighbourhoods or communities.

Ordered Lives explores some of the different ways in which social life is ordered and governed through the rules, norms and expectations people have of one another in day-to-day interaction, and how these arise and are sustained; how social order and ordering vary in time and place; and how social order is contested, challenged, sometimes broken and repaired, including by institutions that claim various kinds of expertise and authority. This strand is developed by an examination of day-to-day ordering in daily lives, through the issue of the anti-social as a certain kind of challenge to normal ways of ordering and by looking at aspects of how governments seek to assemble and regulate their populations.

You will learn

You will learn about the nature of social sciences and the ways they develop through a process of questions, arguments, evidence and evaluation. You will also learn about some key issues and debates at the centre of life in the contemporary UK. You’ll develop an awareness of a range of different disciplinary approaches in the social sciences. You will gain confidence and skills in studying and accessing information from a range of sources; constructing arguments; reading, interpreting and evaluating evidence; and presenting and communicating ideas and information in a variety of formats. You will also practice how to:

  • manage your time effectively
  • organise and complete a programme of work
  • learn from feedback and reflect on your own learning, and be given an opportunity to plan a study pathway leading to personal and/or career goals.

Vocational relevance

After this course, further study in the social sciences could open up employment opportunities in a wide range of occupations in business, banking, insurance, education, health professions, administration, law, social services, voluntary and campaigning organisations, the media, public relations, public service organisations and government (national and local), planning and environmental management, criminal justice system, and social welfare organisations. The course builds a strong basis of vocationally orientated skills that are transferable to the job market: clarity of written communication; critical thinking; ability to analyse, reflect on and present arguments, evidence and theories; problem-solving; evaluating issues; time-management; self-motivation; and basic numerical skills.


This is a key introductory Level 1 course. Level 1 courses provide core subject knowledge and study skills needed for both higher education and distance learning, to help you progress to courses at Level 2.

You are strongly advised to start your OU social science studies with a Level 1 course – either the 60-credit course Introducing the social sciences (DD101) or two 30-credit courses, for example this course followed by Discovering psychology (DSE141). Two 30-credit courses are an excellent choice if you want a gradual entry into the social sciences. Their approaches to the social sciences and integrated teaching of key study and skills provide a firm foundation for further study at Level 2.

Alternatively, if you're unsure whether social sciences is for you, try our diagnostic quiz at Are you ready for DD101? to help you decide. Introducing the Social Sciences: Part One (DD131) is the same as the first half of DD101, so, the resources here may still be of relevance to you.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the course, please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

If you have a disability

Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader. Large print versions of the study materials can be provided on request. Other alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future. Our Services for disabled students website has the latest information about availability.

If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Visit our Services for disabled students website for more information, including:

  • help to determine your study requirements and how to request the support that you need  
  • Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs)
  • using a computer for OU study
  • equipment and other support services that we offer
  • examination arrangements
  • how to contact us for advice and support both before you register and while you are studying.

Study materials

What's included

Course book, other printed materials, DVD, audio CDs and course website.

You will need

Audio CD and video DVD playback facilities.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this course as it includes online activities, which you can access using a web browser.

  • If you have purchased a new desktop or laptop computer since 2007 you should have no problems completing the online activities.
  • If you’ve got a netbook, tablet or other mobile computing device check our Technical requirements section.
  • If you use an Apple Mac you will need OS X 10.6 or later.

You can also visit the Technical requirements section for further computing information including the details of the support we provide.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. If you are new to the OU, you will find that your tutor is particularly concerned to help you with your study methods. We may also be able to offer group tutorials or day schools that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to attend. Where tutorials are held depends on the distribution of students taking each course.

Contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this course can be found in the facts box above.

For TMAs 01 - 03 you can choose whether to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) on paper or online through the eTMA system. You may want to use the eTMA system for some of your assignments but submit on paper for others. This is entirely your choice, but the final TMA, TMA 04, must be submitted online through the eTMA system.

Future availability

The details given here are for the course that starts in October 2013 and February 2014 when it will be available for the last time.

How to register

We regret that we are currently unable to accept registrations for this course. Where the course is to be presented again in the future, relevant registration information will be displayed on this page as soon as it becomes available.

Student Reviews

“I found that this module was very interesting - it made me look at everyday life in a different way. ...”
Read more
“Loved this course. Simple and easy to follow and there was great insight into thinking about the surroundings we take ...”
Read more

Distance learning

The Open University is the world’s leading provider of flexible, high quality distance learning. Unlike other universities we are not campus based. You will study in a flexible way that works for you whether you’re at home, at work or on the move. As an OU student you’ll be supported throughout your studies – your tutor or study adviser will guide and advise you, offer detailed feedback on your assignments, and help with any study issues. Tuition might be in face-to-face groups, via online tutorials, or by phone.

For more information read Distance learning explained.

Are you already an OU student ? Go to StudentHome for information on choosing your next module.
Course facts
About this course:
Course code DD131
Credits 30
OU Level 1
SCQF level 7
FHEQ level 4
Course work includes:
4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
No examination
No residential school

Course satisfaction survey

See the satisfaction survey results for this course.

Your questions

Try our frequently asked questions.

Come and meet us at an event near you.

Or contact an adviser by Email or call +44(0) 845 300 60 90 +44(0) 845 366 60 35

Employers' questions

Contact Corporate Enquiries
Visit our website for employers or Email us

Get a prospectus

Download or