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Access courses

Updated Friday, 14 May 2021
The OU offers innovative and unique ways for people to return to formal education and work towards gaining a diploma or degree. Join the thousands of people who have studied with us.

There is no typical OU student. People of all ages and backgrounds study with us, for all sorts of reasons. Our open admissions policy helps thousands of people achieve their potential even if their previous education experience or qualifications may have been poor.

Please watch this short animation to find out about our Access modules.


Access modules

Access modules which are unique introductory courses aim to help ease learners back into the disciplines of education, building knowledge and preparing the learner to undertake a full diploma or degree as a next step.  

We offer three modules, each covering a general broad set of disciplines: Arts and Languages, Social Sciences and STEM. Courses start each February, May and October.

Designed to inspire you, you’ll explore a range of broadly related subjects within one module. That means you’ll have the time and space to discover where your natural interests lie before settling on your ultimate qualification goal.

These modules are supported by online tutors, who support the learner not just on the subject material but also acting as a coach around the process of learning. The courses include elements working on improving basic skills in maths and English and can be supplemented by other more focused courses of these skills if required.

The Access modules are an accredited higher education award and represented 30 credits. They do not contribute towards an undergraduate degree but are an ideal foundational element for an unconfident learner whose previous education may have been poor, or who has been away from education for a number of years. 

We’re different to other universities because we’re open to people based on their potential rather than their prior qualifications. Most of our courses have no formal entry requirements and our students come from a diverse range of educational backgrounds. So, we offer a choice of starting points depending on how confident you are in your study skills.


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Credit for prior learning and experience

For those learners whose previous studies at another University or institutions have been disruption we offer a service to recognise prior accredited learning where appropriate, allowing students to gain credit for parts of an OU award through their previous achievement. All submissions are considered on a case by case basis.

We are also offer a 30-credit transition module YXM 130 which is designed specifically for those learners who had already completed a number of informal free courses such as MOOC’s and which to translate these into academic credit which contributes to an accredited award. Later this year we will also release a similar module which recognises previous learning gained through the experience of work or volunteering.

Initiatives for priority groups

The OU offers a number of bursary and scholarship programmes to priority groups or communities such as Carers or Disabled Military Veterans.


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