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Introduction to financial services

This module examines the history of the development of financial services in the UK and the ways in which the sector is regulated. You will also study the recent financial crisis, including the role that many financial services firms played in its origins and the impact the crisis is having on the sector. Although the module covers a number of subjects that are international in nature – and certainly many that have an EU context – the focus of the module is on the structure, operation and regulations of the UK financial services industry. This module has a choice of start dates, and you decide how long to take over your studies, from twelve up to twenty-four weeks.

Modules count towards OU qualifications

OU qualifications are modular in structure; the credits from this undergraduate-level module could count towards a certificate of higher education, diploma of higher education, foundation degree or honours degree.

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Module code
Study level
1 7 4
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
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An excellent course for anyone to learn the foundation and history of the UK Financial Industry. I just finished this...
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What you will study

The module covers the following:

  • the historical development and current structure of the UK financial services industry
  • the roles and objectives of the financial services providers
  • the features of financial services products
  • the development and rationale for the regulation of the financial services industry
  • the EU-wide and international aspects of regulation
  • how financial services in the UK are currently regulated
  • current developments in financial services and their regulation.

You will learn the following practical and professional skills:

  • to use financial and economic information to help to make informed financial product choices
  • to understand and critically assess the objectives of financial services providers
  • to evaluate the rationale for, and effectiveness of, the different components of financial services regulation
  • to assess whether the regulatory environment for financial services delivers an ethical and fair framework for the selling of such services to the public
  • the logic for acquiring, and use of, financial services by individuals and households.

Your learning will be supported by a module website that also provides online access to the module materials.

This module can be studied as an optional module in our business studies qualifications. Normally, you should have completed this module and You and your money: personal finance in context (DB123) before progressing to Development of financial practice (DB124).

Vocational relevance

This module is for students aiming for a career in the financial services industry and for those already employed within the sector.

Outside the UK

The study material is aimed at students in the UK or in any location where current UK GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Practice) is used.

Teaching and assessment


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your end-of-module assessment (EMA).

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in August and November 2014, February and May 2015, when it will be available for the last time.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

Course work includes:

End-of-module assessment
No residential school


OU level 1 modules provide core subject knowledge and study skills needed for both higher education and distance learning, in preparation for study at OU level 2. This module is specifically designed for those wishing to study financial services or business studies modules at OU level 1.

To study this module you require basic computer skills and should be familiar with basic financial documents and records i.e. bank statements, invoices, receipts, credit notes, etc.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service.

Preparatory work

Before starting the module you are advised to read regularly the financial section of a quality national newspaper. This will start to familiarise you with the financial services industry, financial products and the current debates about the regulation of the sector.


Start End England fee Register
01 Feb 2015 See description £439.00

New to OU? Registration closed. Already an OU Student? If you can pay in full by card you can register here until 31/01/15


The deadline for financial support applications has now passed

01 May 2015 See description £439.00

Registration closes 24/04/15 (places subject to availability)


You may need to apply for some payment or funding options earlier. Please check the Fees and Funding information or contact us for information.

This module is expected to start for the last time in May 2015.

Ways to pay for this module

Open University Student Budget Account

The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments.

You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

  • Register now, pay later – OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
  • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your annual fees and spreads them out over up to a year, enabling you to pay your fees monthly and walk away with a qualification without any further debt. APR 5.1% representative.

Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).  

Employer sponsorship

Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU qualifications are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to achieve one. They also value the skills that students learn and can apply in the workplace.

More than one in 10 OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the qualification you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could approach your employer to see if they will sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. 

  • Your employer just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.
  • You won’t need to get your employer to complete the form until after you’ve chosen your modules.  

Credit/debit card

You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. 

We accept American Express, Maestro (UK only), Mastercard, Visa/Delta and Visa Electron. 

Gift vouchers

You can pay for part or all of your tuition fees with OU gift vouchers. Vouchers are currently available in the following denominations, £10, £20, £50 and £100. 

Mixed payments

We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. You may, for example wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).

For more information about combining payment options, speak to an adviser or request a call back.

Note: Your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and therefore the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fee and funding information provided here is valid for courses starting before 31 July 2015. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation. Fees for courses starting from 1 August 2015 will be available in March 2015.
This information was provided on 30/01/2015.

What's included

The study materials are online, accessed through a website with resources designed to support your learning. The online resources for this module include an online discussion forum, and interactive quizzes along with printable versions of the study material.  Periodic podcasts will be provided as an additional resource to the study material. The Module Team will endeavour to provide transcripts of these podcasts as soon as they become available.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this module as it includes online activities, which you can access using a web browser.

  • If you have purchased a new desktop or laptop computer since 2008 you should have no problems completing the online activities.
  • If you’ve got a netbook, tablet or other mobile device check our Technical requirements section.
  • If you use an Apple Mac you will need OS X 10.7 or later.

You can also visit the Technical requirements section for further computing information (including details of the support we provide).

If you have a disability

As the majority of this module is taught online and through resources such as an online discussion forum you will need to spend considerable amounts of time using a computer and the internet. If you use specialist hardware or software to assist you in operating a computer or the internet and have any concerns about accessing the types of materials described you are advised to talk to our Student Registration & Enquiry Service before enrolling for the module about the support which can be given to meet your needs.

Transcripts of any audio-visual components will be available and printable versions of online material are available to download from the website. Other alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future.

If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Find out more about our services for disabled students.