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Health and Social Care

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Health and social care is a vast service sector undergoing rapid change, with new government initiatives giving it a higher profile than ever. Priorities on the healthcare agenda include being more responsive to patient needs, and preventing illness by promoting a healthy lifestyle. The focus in frontline health and social care is on giving service-users more independence, choice and control. These developments mean there’s greater demand for well-trained and multi-skilled people across a range of rewarding employment opportunities.

Providing help and care for those in need or who are vulnerable offers a unique sense of personal and career fulfilment. Through OU study you can become part of this essential and worthwhile sector, or you can build on your existing professional experience and progress your career in a particular area of health and social care.

Our wide-ranging qualifications cover today’s topical and most important issues, and are expertly designed to inspire and challenge you.  Some offer a broad-based background exploring principles and approaches to caring across the health and social care sector, while others offer specific policies and practices or focus on a particular aspect of provision, such as caring for those with mental health problems or palliative care. All draw on the latest research and the experience of practising professionals, to provide you with valuable insight and real-world skills and knowledge.

Degrees ( More about Degrees
More about Degrees
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Undergraduate or bachelors degrees are nationally recognised qualifications consisting of academic study designed to help you gain a thorough understanding of a subject.

For a degree in a named subject, such as business studies or humanities, you'll study mainly in your chosen subject, although you may be able to include some modules from other subjects.

With The Open University you could also study an Open degree where you can combine a range of modules from similar or different subjects to suit either your particular career or personal interests.

You can use a degree to:

  • change careers or progress your current career
  • gain an in-depth knowledge and understanding of a subject you are interested in
  • gain professional recognition
  • go onto postgraduate study, such as a diploma or masters degree.
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  • Adult Nursing
    This degree in adult nursing is a work-based learning route to the professional qualification of Registered Nurse on the NMC register.
  • Childhood and Youth Studies
    This degree is for those who work or intend to work with children and young people, or for those with more general interests in the interdisciplinary field of childhood and youth studies.
  • Health and Social Care
    This degree covers a broad range of topics relevant to employment in the health and social care sectors.
  • Mental Health Nursing
    This degree in mental health nursing is a work-based learning route to the professional qualification of Registered Nurse on the NMC register.
  • Nursing Practice
    If you’re a practising registered nurse, you can gain this honours degree while cultivating a person-centred approach to your work with patients, their carers and families.
  • Social Work (England)
    Qualify as a social worker in England with this unique work-based degree, offered in partnership with employers – who must sponsor and register you on the programme.
  • Social Work (Scotland)
    If you already have a UK degree, you can enter this unique work-based qualifying programme in social work at stage two. You must be registered by your employer.
  • Social Work (Scotland)
    Qualify as a social worker in Scotland with this unique work-based degree, offered in partnership with employers – who must register you on the programme.
  • Social Work (Wales)
    Qualify as a social worker in Wales with this unique work-based degree, offered in partnership with employers – who must register you on the programme.
  • Sport, Fitness and Coaching
    With this sport, fitness and coaching degree you’ll develop your understanding of sports science, training, coaching and leadership principles, as well as increasing your current skills.
  • Youth Justice Studies (England and Wales)
    If you work with young people in the youth justice system, this qualification will increase your skills and knowledge and have a real impact on your practice.
  • Youth Work
    This degree enables students to qualify as a professional youth worker and is for practitioners working with young people (13-19) in informal educational settings.
  • Open degree
    The BA/BSc Open Degree is a qualification that gives you a huge choice in terms of subjects and modules that you study to make up your degree.

Foundation Degrees ( More about Foundation degrees
More about Foundation degrees
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Foundation degrees are nationally recognised qualifications focusing either on a particular job or profession; they combine work place learning with academic study. Designed and developed with external partners, you must be working either as a paid employee or as a volunteer in a related work setting.

A foundation degree is equivalent to two thirds of an honours degree. They aim to enhance the professional and technical skills of staff within a profession or those intending to go into that profession.

You can use a foundation degree to:

  • change careers or progress your current career
  • gain technical and professional skills
  • gain professional recognition
  • achieve a full honours degree through further study.

Most of our foundation degrees are also offered as diplomas of higher education for those living and working in Scotland.

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  • Counselling
    This qualification will prepare you to become a professional counsellor, equipping you with the theoretical understanding and practical skills required to work in this field.
  • Early Years
    If you’re an experienced practitioner working with children from birth to seven years old in an early years setting, this degree will further your knowledge and skills.
  • Healthcare Practice
    Study themes in long-term conditions, such as children and young people, mental health, health and wellbeing, end-of-life care or a mix from across all these areas.
  • Paramedic Sciences
    Develop the knowledge, skills and competencies which underpin paramedic practice in emergency care settings. You must be supported by your employer for the work-based modules.
  • Sport and Fitness
    Build knowledge and skills needed by sport and fitness instructors/coaches, focussing on developing insights into the scientific, instructional and management principles that underpin these roles.
  • Working with Young People
    This degree develops the skills and knowledge of those working with, and leading work with, young people (13–19) to support their informal education.
  • Youth Justice (England and Wales)
    This foundation degree will suit anyone working in the youth justice system (including the secure estate), volunteers working in this field, and those planning to join the youth justice workforce.

Diplomas of Higher Education ( More about Diplomas of Higher Education
More about Diplomas of Higher Education
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A Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE) is equivalent to two thirds of an honours degree. They are nationally recognised qualifications focusing either on a particular job or profession, or academic study.

DipHEs are designed to increase the professional and technical skills of staff within a profession or extend your knowledge and understanding of a particular subject. A DipHE shows that you are capable of extended study at university level.

You can use a DipHE to:

  • change careers or progress your current career
  • gain technical and professional skills
  • gain a greater knowledge and understanding of a subject you are interested in
  • gain professional recognition
  • achieve a full honours degree through additional study.

The Diploma of Higher Education might be of particular interest to those living and working in Scotland.

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Certificates of Higher Education ( More about Certificates of Higher Education
More about Certificates of Higher Education
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A Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE) is a nationally recognised qualification focusing on either a particular job or profession, or academic study. Equivalent to the first year of a full honours degree, they are the most basic level of qualification that can be gained in higher education and show that you are capable of studying successfully at university level.

You can use a CertHE to:

  • gain confidence to study successfully at university level
  • change careers or progress your current career
  • build on your existing experience and gain new skills
  • gain a broad introduction to a subject you are interested in
  • achieve a foundation degree, DipHE or full honours degree through additional study.
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OU Certificates ( More about OU Certificates
More about OU Certificates
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OU Certificates are specially designed Open University qualifications focusing either on a particular job or profession, or academic study. For example The Open University's Certificate in Supporting Learning in Primary Schools is designed for teaching assistants and other kinds of classroom support staff, including volunteers. Not all OU Certificates are entry level qualifications.

You can use an OU Certificate to:

  • enhance or progress your current career
  • gain a greater knowledge and understanding of a subject you are interested in.
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Getting started with an Access module

There are two ways to start a qualification. If you haven’t studied for a long time or need to build your confidence, beginning your studies with an Access module may be the right choice for you.

Choose a qualification to find out more.

Study a module as a standalone course

You can study a single module on its own for personal interest or to improve your career prospects. See the list of all our individual courses in Health and Social Care.

Postgraduate options

If you already have a degree, you may want to see postgraduate courses and qualifications in Health and Social Care

Are you already an OU student ? Go to StudentHome for information on choosing your next module.

Studying outside of UK and Europe?

If you live outside of the UK, Republic of Ireland and Europe, please visit our website for international students.

Your questions

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