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Free course

Taking your first steps into higher education

Free statement of participation on completion
Taking your first steps into higher education
Taking your first steps into higher education

What is university study like? Is it for me? If you are asking yourself these questions, this badged course is for you.

Taking your first steps into higher education provides insights into how subjects are studied at university. This introduction to carefully selected materials helps you decide what you might want to study. You will be looking at three main areas: arts and humanities, the social sciences and maths, technology and science.


Taking your first steps into higher education is a free course which lasts about 8 weeks, with approximately 3 hours' study time each week. You can work through the course at your own pace, so if you have more time one week there is no problem with pushing on to complete another week's study. You can also take as long as you want to complete it.

Enrolling on the course will give you the opportunity to earn an Open University digital badge. Badges are not accredited by The Open University but they're a great way to demonstrate your interest in the subject and commitment to your career, and to provide evidence of continuing professional development. 

You can manage and download your digital badges online from My OpenLearn. In addition you can download and print your OpenLearn Statement of Participation - which also displays your Open University badge.

The Open University would really appreciate a few minutes of your time to tell us about yourself and your expectations for the course before you begin, in our optional start-of-course survey. Once you complete the course we would also value your feedback and suggestions for future improvement, in our optional end-of-course survey. Participation will be completely confidential and we will not pass on your details to others.

This course is accredited by the CPD Standards Office. It can be used to provide evidence of continuing professional development and on successful completion of the course you will be awarded 24 CPD points. Evidence of your CPD achievement is provided on the free Statement of Participation awarded on completion.

Anyone wishing to provide evidence of their enrolment on this course is able to do so by sharing their Activity Record on their OpenLearn Profile, which is available before completion of the course and earning of the Statement of Participation.

Taking your first steps into higher education

Earn this free Open University digital badge if you complete this course! The badge can be displayed, shared and downloaded as a marker of your achievement. The badge is awarded for completing the course and passing the quizzes.

Course learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • demonstrate a basic understanding of what is meant by higher education and the nature of study at this level
  • demonstrate an understanding of a range of basic facts, ideas and theories associated with the arts and humanities, social sciences and science, technology and maths
  • recognise and use some of the basic terms and concepts associated with these subjects
  • use and apply routine skills associated with these subjects
  • recognise your own personal skills, interests and preferences relating to higher education study
  • plan and review your study pathways to link your learning  with your own personal or career goals.

First Published: 22/05/2014

Updated: 09/01/2020

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