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    An undergraduate qualification in Health and Social Care.

Foundation Degree in Healthcare Practice

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The role of healthcare support worker is fulfilling and increasingly challenging, and there are some exciting new roles emerging – particularly if you have the right qualifications and experience. The Foundation Degree in Healthcare Practice will help you get ahead by developing the knowledge and competences needed to deliver high quality, safe and compassionate care. You’ll also be in prime position to take advantage of new opportunities as they arise. This foundation degree course integrates theory with work-based learning and meets the needs of healthcare support staff working in a range of settings. When studying Stage 2, you’ll have the opportunity to select from study themes such as health and wellbeing; mental health; long-term conditions; children and young people; dementia care and end-of-life care, all with a strong emphasis on enhancing the experience of patients/service users. You must have the support of your employer to study this course, as you’ll undertake the two work-based modules in your own workplace.

The programme of study for this foundation degree is also offered as the Diploma of Higher Education in Healthcare Practice (W16). The diploma of higher education will be of particular interest to those living and working in Scotland.

Fees and facts

Where will you be resident whilst you study?

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Fee: Choose country above to see fee and ways to pay.
Study method: Flexible, part-time study through distance learning.
Type of qualification: Foundation Degree
Foundation Degree

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.

Code: X16

Entry requirements

This foundation degree is only offered with support from employers. You need to be employed as a healthcare support worker in a healthcare setting for a minimum of two days per week.

The level of competence required in the practice-based module at Stage 2 will require you to be employed as a healthcare support worker.

You’ll undertake the work-based component of the qualification in your own workplace. The OU provides study resources and tutorial support and manages the assessment processes. Your employer is required to provide a suitable learning environment in your work place and to work with us to prepare and support practitioners to take on the role of workplace supervisor and assessor.

Career relevance and employability

The Foundation Degree in Healthcare Practice is designed to promote the development of healthcare career pathways and to prepare healthcare assistants/healthcare support workers for the role of assistant/associate practitioner. Although it provides no guarantee of promotion, it is particularly relevant for staff working in healthcare support roles who wish to gain a qualification that helps them to deliver high quality, safe and compassionate care.

Delivering quality care requires teamwork and people management skills. Studying this foundation degree will encourage you to work in multi-professional teams to improve the patient/service user experience, and develop your skills in:

  • communication
  • the use of IT facilities
  • information retrieval
  • numeracy
  • time management
  • organisation of self and others
  • analysing and problem solving.

You’ll also be prepared for further study – for example – you might aim for an honours degree or, possibly, a professional qualification in your particular field of practice.

There’s more information about how OU study can improve your employability in the OU’s Employability Statement from our Careers Advisory Service. You can also read or download our publication OU study and your career and look at our subject pages to find out about career opportunities.

Register your interest

For academic year 2014/15, registration opens on 30/04/2014. If you would like to be kept updated, you can register your interest now.

Credit for previous study elsewhere

If you have already completed some successful study at higher education level at another institution you may be able to transfer credit for this study and count it towards this qualification. If you wish to apply to transfer credit you must do so as soon as possible, and before you register for this qualification.  

If you are awarded credit for study completed elsewhere, you may find that you need to study fewer OU modules to complete this qualification. This may also mean that the next start date and the maximum time limit for this qualification are different to those shown above.

Visit our Credit Transfer site for more information and details of how to apply for credit transfer.

Learning outcomes

The learning outcomes of this qualification are described in four areas:

  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Cognitive skills
  • Practical and professional skills
  • Key skills

Read more detailed information about the learning outcomes, and how they are acquired through teaching, learning and assessment methods.

On completion

On successful completion of the required credits and modules you will be awarded a Foundation Degree in Healthcare Practice and will be entitled to use the letters FD (Open) after your name.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the following regulations:

These regulations are also available on our Essential Documents website.

If you have a disability

Choosing the qualification that’s right for you is very important. Depending on your disability, long-term health condition, mental health disability or specific learning difficulty, you may need to consider any challenges posed by:

  • the learning objectives: for example, to gain an honours degree in a language you must be physically able to speak the language
  • how the modules are taught: for example, some of our science qualifications require that you complete laboratory work
  • any work-based competency requirements.

Choosing the right qualification can be a complex mix of the subject requirements and the support you may need. To help you assess whether the qualification you are interested in will work for you, further advice is available from:

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study for this qualification. For most OU qualifications a Microsoft Windows (new since 2007), Apple Mac (OS X 10.6 or later) or Linux computer should be adequate. However, some qualifications require more specific IT equipment, in which case you will need additional software to use an Apple Mac or Linux computer. A detailed technical specification for your modules will be made available when you register. Please note, technical specifications do change over time to match computer developments and the way we teach.

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.

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