This degree has three stages, each comprising 120 credits. For your BA/BSc (Honours) Open degree you can:
- study a broad range of subjects; or
- specialise in one subject area, and pick from a wide range of subjects to complete your qualification; or
- specialise in two subject areas, dividing your time equally between both.
Optional Access module – visit Entry requirements to find out about starting this course with a preparatory Access module.
You’ll start Stage 1 with 60 credits from a wide choice of introductory modules. This can include Making your learning count (YXM130) which gives you the chance to count study from a variety of subjects towards your qualification. All introductory modules are worth 30 or 60 credits, and have been carefully selected to develop your subject knowledge and study skills in preparation for further OU study.
To complete this stage, you’ll choose a further 60 credits from a wider selection of our other Stage 1 modules. Many students focus broadly on one discipline, such as science or the humanities – but there’s nothing to stop you studying modules from entirely different subject areas.
Having completed Stage 1, you may have formed some ideas about the direction you want to follow – if so, you can start to focus on one or two subject areas and explore some of the topics you will have encountered at Stage 1 in more depth. Equally, you can continue to be inspired by different subjects, especially if you have previous knowledge or experience. Either way, after you've completed the 120 credits required for Stage 2, you will have enhanced your critical thinking and analytical skills.
Stage 3 is focused on the study of specialist topics and issues. During this stage you will develop significantly as an independent learner and acquire high-level thinking skills in preparation for graduate-level employment or postgraduate study. To complete the 120 credits of study required for Stage 3, we recommend that you build on previous modules to get the best from your studies.
Alternatively, if you’re interested in exploring some predefined subject-based routes through the qualification, expand the Routes through the degree section below.
If you want to focus your Open degree on just one subject, you can choose 180 credits of subject-specific study across the three stages (as detailed in the example routes given below), combined with 180 credits from a wide range of modules. Alternatively, if you’d like to study two specific subjects, you could choose to combine 180 credits of subject-specific study from one route with 180 credits of subject-specific study from another.
These routes are optional and are provided just to give you a few ideas, other subjects and module choices are available when you register.
Following a suggested subject route, or combining two together, can be particularly beneficial if you’re keen to develop a specialism in a particular subject(s). However, please be aware that the subject(s) you study won’t be included on your degree certificate or in the name of your degree.
We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 14 September 2020.
We make all our qualifications as accessible as possible and have a comprehensive range of services to support all our students. The BA/BSc (Honours) Open degree uses a variety of study materials and may have the following elements, depending on the modules you choose to study:
- studying online – some modules have a mixture of printed and online material, and others are entirely online. Online learning resources may include websites, audio/video media clips, and interactive activities such as online quizzes
- face-to-face tutorials/day schools/workshops and/or online tutorials
- using mathematical and scientific expressions, notations and associated techniques
- working in a group with other students
- using and/or producing diagrams and/or screenshots
- undertaking practical work
- finding external/third party material online
- working with specialist reading material such as works of art and musical manuscripts
- continuous and end-of-module assessment in the form of essays, short answer questions, and in some cases an examination
- using feedback: continuous assessment involves receiving detailed feedback on your work from your tutor and using this feedback to improve your performance
- engagement with learning and assessment within a pre-determined schedule or timetable – time management will be needed during your studies and the University will help you to develop these skills throughout your degree
- using specialist software (for example the Sibelius music writing package)
- using an online Laboratory or Design/Engineering Studio
- some modules may require you to attend a residential school.
For more detailed information, see the Accessibility Statements on individual module descriptions. If you feel you may need additional support, visit Disability support to find more about what we offer.
Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment
This qualification develops your learning in four main areas:
- Knowledge and understanding
- Cognitive skills
- Practical and professional skills
- Key skills
The level and depth of your learning gradually increases as you work through the qualification. You’ll be supported throughout by the OU’s unique style of teaching and assessment – which includes a personal tutor to guide and comment on your work; top quality course texts; elearning resources like podcasts, interactive media and online materials; tutorial groups and community forums.
Read the detailed learning outcomes here
If you have already studied at university level, you may be able to count it towards your Open University qualification – which could save you time and money by reducing the number of modules you need to study. At the OU we call this credit transfer.
It’s not just university study that can be considered, you can also transfer study from a wide range of professional or vocational qualifications such as HNCs and HNDs.
You should apply for credit transfer before you register, at least 4 weeks before the registration closing date. We will need to know what you studied, where and when and you will need to provide evidence of your previous study.
For more details of when you will need to apply by and to download an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.
Classification of your degree
On successful completion of 360 credits you will be awarded either a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science honours degree.
Whether you qualify for a BA (Honours) Open degree or a BSc (Honours) Open degree will be determined by the number of credits you have from modules suitable for a BA or for a BSc.
For a BA, at least 180 credits must come from modules suitable for a BA (that is with module codes starting with A, B, D, E, K, L, M, U, W or YXM).
For a BSc, at least 180 credits must come from modules suitable for a BSc (that is, with module codes starting with B, D, E, K, M, S, T, U, W or YXM).
Of these 180 credits, at least 120 must be at OU level 2 or above, and at least 60 of these must be at OU level 3.
Your honours degree will be classified either as first-class honours, upper second-class honours, lower second-class honours or third-class honours. The class is determined by the grades you achieve in up to 240 credits from OU modules above level 1. At least 120 of those credits must come from modules at level 3.
At the end of your studies you will receive a detailed record of modules you have studied and the results. You will have the opportunity to attend a degree ceremony.
As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the qualification-specific regulations below and the academic regulations that are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.
There are no formal entry requirements to study this qualification. However, you can choose to start your studies with either an optional Access module, or directly at Stage 1.
The BA/BSc (Honours) Open degree begins with one of a range of introductory modules, which are all designed to build a solid foundation for further study. Although this first module will provide the foundation for your qualification, having some basic skills before you begin can help you get the best from your studies. If, for example, you choose one of our science, maths or engineering modules, we recommend that you check with us that your IT and mathematical skills are at an appropriate level.
For the following subject areas, we offer online diagnostic tools to help you to decide if you’re ready, or if you could do with some extra preparation:
How much time do I need?
Find out if you have enough time to study with our time planner
- Most of our students study part time, completing 60 credits a year.
- This will usually mean studying for 16–18 hours a week.
Preparing for study with an Access module
If your study skills are a bit rusty or you want to try out Open University study before committing yourself, don’t worry! The OU offers Access modules designed to introduce the subject area, build your confidence and prepare you for further study, and you may be eligible to study an Access module for free! You'll get:
- a personal tutor providing regular feedback with one to one telephone tutorials
- support from a dedicated team throughout your study
- detailed written feedback.
For this qualification we recommend any of the following modules, depending on which subjects you are most interested in studying:
Arts and languages Access module
What you will study
This multidisciplinary module is an ideal starting point if you have little or no previous knowledge of the arts, humanities and languages. It's perfect preparation for your study with The Open University as you'll develop both your subject knowledge and your study skills. It explores a range of subjects, including art history, English, English language studies, history, modern languages, and also touches on the areas of creative writing and religious studies.
View full details of Arts and languages Access module
People, work and society Access module
What you will study
This multidisciplinary module provides an excellent introduction to studying with The Open University; you'll get to cover a wide range of subject areas, including childhood and youth studies, social science, psychology, health, business and law.
View full details of People, work and society Access module
Science, technology and maths Access module
What you will study
This multidisciplinary module is an ideal starting point if you have little or no previous knowledge of the sciences, technology and mathematics. It'll help develop your study skills in advance of your OU qualification, and you get to explore a number of STEM subjects including science, engineering and design, environment, mathematics, and computing and IT.
View full details of Science, technology and maths Access module
Skills for career development
A BA/BSc (Honours) Open degree equips you with a wide range of expertise, skills and capabilities that are much sought after in today’s highly competitive job market. An Open degree on your CV shows more than your level of knowledge about a subject; employers know that you are flexible and adaptable, having studied across a range of subjects. It also allows you to develop a diverse range of transferable skills including:
- self management
- team working
- problem solving
- communication and literacy
- application of information technology
- business and customer awareness
Research* shows that the most important considerations when businesses are recruiting graduates are having the right attitude to work (86%), aptitude for work (63%) and general academic ability (43%).
* Inspiring Growth CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey 2017.
The flexibility of our BA/BSc (Honours) Open degree makes it relevant to a wide range of careers and industries – many of which do not require qualifications to be subject-specific. It can help you to develop in your existing employment, or be a passport to a whole new career. Its flexibility particularly suits people with multi-faceted work roles; and anyone needing to develop their skills, knowledge and understanding to manage changes in their current job or future career path.
A degree is always valuable, no matter what you study. Around 70% of graduate jobs are open to graduates of any discipline – particularly roles in business, finance, management consultancy and the public sector. Some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree.
Exploring your options
Once you register with us (and for up to three years after you finish your studies), you’ll have full access to our careers service for a wide range of information and advice. This includes online forums, website, interview simulation, vacancy service as well as the option to email or speak to a careers adviser. Some areas of the careers service website are available for you to see now, including help with looking for and applying for jobs. You can also read more general information about how OU study enhances your career.
You can also visit the graduate careers website Prospects for hundreds of job ideas.