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Putting Java to work

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This module teaches the industrial programming language Java. It provides a good grounding in many of the advanced facilities of this object-oriented language including inheritance, polymorphism, class libraries and the Java human-computer interface. It concludes with two case studies which use the full power of the language. By completing this module you will be well equipped to work on small-scale industrial software projects. All development will be carried out using the NetBeans development environment supplied by the OU. The module assumes basic programming skills: for example you must be familiar with the main control constructs of a modern programming language.

Modules at Level 2 assume that you are suitably prepared for study at this level. If you want to take a single module to satisfy your career development needs or pursue particular interests, you don’t need to start at Level 1 but you do need to have adequately prepared yourself for OU study in some other way. Check with our Student Registration & Enquiry Service to make sure that you are sufficiently prepared.

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No current presentation - see Future availability

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2013.

What you will study

Since its introduction, Java has become one of the most widely used computer languages. Initially riding on the crest of the rapid expansion of the internet, Java has established itself as a tremendously versatile programming language.

The underlying theme of this module is that Java is everywhere; not just in the sense that it is a highly portable programming language, but also in the sense it is able to run on a wide range of platforms.

In this module you will learn how Java can be used to build systems that power many applications, ranging from ecommerce and online banking to online games and downloadable music. Java runs on servers, PCs, mobile phones and PDAs (hand-held computers). Java can be found in TV set-top boxes, embedded devices (forming part of larger systems such as cars, robots or printers), smart cards and even in wearable computers.

The module will show you how, through the concept of Java Editions, Java can be used in all of the platforms mentioned above. For example, Java Editions can cater for the different needs and resources of large international ecommerce systems running on extensive networks with many servers, as well as the smaller requirements of games software running on mobile phones with limited hardware resources. The module‘s main focus is on the Java 2 Standard Edition (J2SE) but you will also be introduced to the Java 2 Micro Edition (J2ME), which is designed for use on smaller systems with limited resources such as mobile phones.

The module begins with the assumption that you already have some basic knowledge about object-orientation and programming languages, either from a previous module, from your work, or perhaps from something you have read independently. From this basic understanding, the module will provide a broad coverage of Java. Although the module concentrates on producing stand-alone applications, it also shows you how the skills and knowledge you develop are directly transferable to other systems: for example web-based systems through the use of applets, and mobile-phone systems through the use of MIDlets. The module will also touch on topics such as Java on servers (servlets) and that of Java code roaming the internet through the use of aglets.


This is a Level 2 module and you need a good knowledge of the subject area. 

You should be familiar with the following concepts: objects; objects interacting by the exchange of messages (or invoking methods); data types; classes; control structures; inheritance; and simple object-oriented design. This knowledge could have been obtained either from studying Building blocks of software (M263) (now discontinued) or from equivalent work at another university. The first three units of the module revise the above concepts. However, because we expect prior knowledge, you are expected to study these units at a rapid rate. To make sure you are sufficiently prepared for M257 why not try our Java Refresher Quiz.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, 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

Module texts are available in electronic format. The module may be challenging if you have impaired sight as many diagrammatic models are involved, though descriptions of the diagrams are available. M257 uses the software package NetBeans version 6.9.1. Much of the software can instead be run from a command line although there are some practical exercises that require the ability to analyse visual information that appears on a computer screen.

You will need to make use of a personal computer and the internet. The study materials are available in Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). Components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader and mathematical, scientific, and foreign language materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. The books are available in a comb-bound format. 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

Module books, other printed materials, website, CD-ROM-based software and exercises.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this course. It includes online activities – you can access using a web browser  – and some course software provided on DVD.

  • If you have purchased a new desktop or laptop computer running Windows since 2007, or an Apple Mac (OS X 10.6 or later) or Linux computer, you should have no problems completing the computer-based activities.
  • A netbook, tablet or other mobile computing device is not suitable for this course – check our Technical requirements section.

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. We may also be able to offer group tutorials or day-schools that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to attend. Where your tutorials are held will depend on the distribution of students taking the module. 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 module can be found in the facts box above. 

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper.

The iCMAs must be submitted online.

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in October 2013 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

“Hard work but very rewarding, particularly the introduction of Swing components and concurrency, which were new to me. I did ...”
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“Very good course, followed on nicely from M255. Slight bit overlap from M255 at the beginning of this module but ...”
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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 M257
Credits 20
OU Level 2
SCQF level 8
FHEQ level 5
Course work includes:
3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
5 Interactive computer-marked assignments (iCMAs)
No residential school

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