Information and free resources from The Open University

We’ve led the way in distance education for over 50 years. At the OU, we’re committed to using our expertise in online education to help our students, staff, alumni and society navigate the new ‘normal’ created by the coronavirus pandemic.

On this page, find out about our latest research, access resources for online educators, and discover free study for learners of all levels.

Women teaching young person
Professor Tim Blackman

A letter from our Vice-Chancellor

The OU’s mission ‘to be open to people, places, methods and ideas’ continues to be important as we support society during the various phases of the pandemic. We are using our unique position and reach as a Four Nations University and mobilising and deploying our world class research and expertise to continue to support the coronavirus response effort. ...

Our academics are tracking the extent of false information about the virus so that it can be brought to the attention of policymakers and continuing to work on the world’s first COVID-19 digital immunity passport, which becomes more important as vaccines are rolled out across the UK. We ran a poll to see how people were spending their time during lockdowns and found that six in ten took up something creative in 2020. Now, as we move into 2021, we’re also turning our attention to researching the effects of the pandemic on the economy; predicting the skills needed for strong, resilient leaders in the future workplace

The Coronavirus Research Fund was set up by in September 2020 by the Pro Vice-Chancellor, Research, Enterprise and Scholarship, providing a rapid-response stream for projects with short turn-around and a longer-term stream for large projects. Alongside this, our academics and experts continue to help other organisations and institutions with our world-leading expertise and capability in the delivery of online teaching and our experiences with remote working, which is also benefiting new sectors such as the legal profession and counsellors, who have moved their services online.

Our amazing students are also playing their part in their communities by sharing their top tips with others now studying online on how they can maximise their capacity to study by planning and operating with distractions.

For over fifty years, we have been committed to making learning possible, for anyone with a desire to learn. We will continue to do that and more to help in the national response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Professor Tim Blackman

January 2021


News and research

Our faculty blogs

Our expert academics write their own blog posts on specialist topics and current affairs.

You can scroll through some of their most recent coronavirus blog posts and more.

Social Analysis and the COVID-19 Crisis

Professor Suman Gupta describes their shared experience of COVID-19 with friends across the globe, including the convergence of interests.

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Building Resilience in Pandemic Times

“We’re all in the same COVID-storm but we’re in different boats. And many of us could benefit from donning our resilience lifejackets.”

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The UK’s COVID-19 PPE saga and lessons for future emergency procurements

Dr Miriam Mbah, OU Lecturer, discusses how the UK has gone about procuring PPE in response to the pandemic and what needs to change for future procurements.

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Social Scientific Research in the Time of COVID-19

This new series of informed blogs see OU academics from the School of Social Sciences and Global Studies probe the pandemic from multiple angles.

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The Demand of Justice in the Diffusion of the Vaccine for COVID-19

Theo Papaioannou, OU Professor of Politics, Innovation and Development, discusses the distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations across the world.

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Reading John Edgar Wideman’s ‘Fever’

Lindsey Stewart, Visiting Fellow at The OU, reflects on the harrowing and triumphant short story Fever by John Edgar Wideman.

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Videos from our academics

Our academics share some top tips about home schooling, bust online learning myths, and introduce our award-winning OpenSTEM Labs.

Watch the videos to find out more.


Free courses

Short courses

Short courses from The Open University

Our short courses have flexible, open entry, which means you can start them at almost any time of year, and prices start from as little as £99. We’ve chosen a few that may be of particular interest to you at this time, but we also offer short courses in astronomy, continuing professional development and more.

See all available Open University short courses


Modules and qualifications

Health and wellbeing

Supporting students

Contacting the OU

Our top priority remains the safety and wellbeing of our staff, students and visitors during this unprecedented time. As such, our campus buildings are currently closed to the public, including our offices in Milton Keynes, Nottingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast and Dublin.

Our online qualification registration remains open for you, 24/7.

Our current usual operating times are 08:00–17:30, Monday–Friday, and we welcome telephone enquiries again. As we’re expecting high call volumes, it may us take longer than usual to answer.

If you’re a current student, please visit the OU Help Centre for the latest updates on how we can support you.

It will take us longer than usual to respond to your emails, so we thank you for your patience at this time.