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  1. Study at the OU
  2. Undergraduate
  3. Finding time to study

Finding time to study

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Our qualifications are designed to be flexible. So if you want to vary the amount of time you spend studying from year to year, or even take a break for a while, you can.

However, bear in mind that it's easy to underestimate the time and commitment needed for part-time study by distance-learning methods. It's a good idea not to take on too much at first. As you become more experienced and confident you can always take on more.

How long will it take me to get my qualification?

Many OU students working towards a qualification study 60 credits each year, meaning they could incorporate their 360-credit undergraduate degree in six years. Others study at a slower rate, completing 30 credits each year. The number of credits you study each year is referred to as your 'study intensity'.
The table below will give you an idea of the timescales involved.

QualificationTotal credits requiredTime required to complete
Certificate of higher education
(Cert HE)
120 1 years full-time study or 2 years part-time study
Foundation degree or diploma of higher education (Dip HE) 240 2-3 years full-time study or 4 years part-time study
BA or BSc degree without honours 300 3 years full-time study or 5 years part-time study
BA or BSc degree with honours 360 3-4 years full-time study or 6 years part-time study

Eight hours a week is all it takes to start studying for many OU qualifications.

You’ll need to find enough study time every week, depending on how quickly you want to achieve your qualification, and the module(s) you’re studying each year:

  • 30 credits: around 8 to 9 hours per week
  • 60 credits: around 16 to 18 hours per week
  • 120 credits: around 32 to 36 hours per week (equivalent to studying full time)

* hours may vary depending on the combination of modules that you choose. When you begin to study towards a qualification with us, we’ll make sure that you understand how much time you’ll need to complete your modules as you select them.

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 60–80 per cent of this time will be directed through the module materials and the balance will be used for independent learning, review and revision.

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1 minute 12 seconds

Eulina (Tutor): I know people out there will probably laugh and think well where's the time but you just have to just try and be creative. We have people say, I'm a bus driver and on my night shifts I take out my course books. I used to read an hour at lunchtime. Or if you know you're taking a long train journey you could read then or get up an extra hour earlier. Look at the chapters. You could divide them up and say, right I could read that amount in an hour so I'm going to do that. And if you do it in bits it's a smaller task. And by the end of the week you could have read a whole chapter or a whole course book.

So it's about dividing up work. Seeing time in your schedule where you can fit it in. And, obviously life kicks in. You get the summer holidays. Kids are around. You might have extra work etc. So I think OU students sometimes really beat themselves up about how they don't have the time or they're falling behind. And what they're actually doing is quite above and beyond what other people are doing anyway. So they really shouldn't knock themselves and sometimes you will fall behind and you just need to take stock again. And try and stick to your timetable.

Finding time for study is one of the biggest challenges our students face. It's not always easy finding time to study around your other commitments, but with 70% of our students working at the same time as studying, OU study is proven to have the flexibility to help you succeed.

The planner below will help you work out how much time you can commit to study.

  • Take a few moments now to think about your average week.
  • Click on the timeslots to show times when you can study.
  • To remove a block of time, click on it again.
  • When you've identified all of the time you have available, click on the 'check' button and we'll give you some advice.

If you're unable to use the cursor, try our alternative (PDF, 25.7KB) version of this activity.

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You have 0 hours per week available for study.

Can you find more time?

At the moment, you don't seem to have enough time to study for an OU qualification. A 30-credit module studied over 12 months takes around six hours of study a week. All qualifications require at least 30 credits of study per year, and many require a minimum of 60 credits at some points in the qualification.

If you can't find enough time now, but are still interested in studying, think about how you might find more time. Could you juggle things round, reduce the time spent on certain activities, or give up others altogether? Can you think of ways to fit study around other commitments – for example could you find 30 minutes every lunch time, or time when children are occupied at activities? Could other people help with some of your commitments?

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

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