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Working and learning: developing effective performance at work

This module enables you to put your work experiences to practical use in your academic study of business and management. It provides a first taste of work-based learning with The Open University. In this version of Working and learning: developing effective performance at work (BU130) you’ll study issues that are particularly relevant to working in the public sector. The module will be useful for anyone looking to change or improve their working life or for anyone wishing to incorporate personal and professional development in their OU study programme. As work-based learning is highly personal, you control your learning and choose what you want to learn and how you learn.

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
See Am I ready?

Student Reviews

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What you will study

This module will help you to build a career in public services and will develop skills to improve your performance at work – and as such is quite different from many other modules that are designed around a particular subject (for example, management or marketing) and that have a bounded academic area for learning. It  provides you with an opportunity to make your own decisions about what you will learn to improve your performance in the workplace and you will draw up your own learning contract to guide your studies. You will draw on a range of module resources which will help to develop your study skills in reading, writing, reflective learning and critical thinking – and you will practise all these in carrying out your work-based learning inquiries. You may find  it challenging at first to take control of your learning in this way but you should also derive great satisfaction from doing so.

Online learning will be a major part of this module. You will be directed to learning resources to help you to develop your study skills and activities that cover a range of topics and issues linked to your work, and specifically, you will study for one of your WBL topics, Customer Care in the Public Sector. Other resources are provided to support your work-based learning, covering a range of topics including self-management, work-life balance, persuasive skills and decision making. The learning resources will focus on helping you to try doing things differently in your work role, rather than just acquiring more academic knowledge. 

These learning resources and activities will be supported by tuition that will include active involvement with your tutor through online tutor group forum activities and two day schools, plus collaborative work via online forums with a community of peers. The assessment for this module focuses on your personal learning experience and your reflection on that experience.

You will learn

In practical terms, the learning outcomes of this module are that you will be able to demonstrate:

Knowledge and understanding

  • an understanding of your learning and selected work-based learning topics.

Thinking skills

  • basic skills in reflective learning, including insights into experiences and making decisions upon future action.

Practical and professional skills

  • an ability to plan, manage and communicate your learning within chosen work-based learning topics.

Key skills

  • an ability to use relevant knowledge and key skills to engage critically with   a range of problems and issues in your workplace.

Vocational relevance

To get the most out of this module you should be doing some kind of work as you will be undertaking two work-based learning inquiry projects as part of your learning (but it does not matter whether this is paid, or unpaid, or voluntary work). The module content is directly relevant to providing you with the skills to develop your ability to learn.

Outside the UK

This module is relevant to students in both a UK and non-UK context.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will support you with the study material, facilitate online collaborative work through the tutor group forum, and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. If you are new to The Open University, you will find that your tutor is particularly concerned to help you with your study methods. The module also offers group tutorials or day-schools that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to attend. Where tutorials are held depends on the distribution of students taking each module.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


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

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper.

You must submit the end-of-module assessment (EMA) online using our eTMA system.

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in October 2014 and April 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:

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school


This is a key introductory OU level 1 module providing knowledge development and study skills needed for both higher education and distance learning, to help you progress to modules at OU level 2.

It is an ideal first module if you are thinking of studying at university level, and might want to go on to a foundation degree in business or an undergraduate degree in business studies or management. You should be doing paid, or unpaid, or voluntary work as you will need to complete two work-based learning projects as part of your learning.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.


Start End England fee Register
11 Apr 2015 Sep 2015 £1316.00

Registration closes 05/03/15 (places subject to availability)


The deadline for financial support applications has now passed

April 2015 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.

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 28/02/2015.

What's included

Website, online activities and resources, including the module study guide, a module file, writing skills booklet, online forums and a printed text.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this module as the study materials and activities are accessible via a web browser. You may also be required to perform other tasks, such as word processing, using spreadsheets, taking part in online forums, and submitting files to the university for assessment. The additional software for these tasks will either be provided or is freely available.

We recommend either of the following:

  • Windows desktop or laptop computer running Windows 7 or later operating system
  • Macintosh desktop or laptop computer running OS X 10.7 or later operating system.

A netbook, tablet, smartphone or Linux computer that supports one of the browsers listed below may be suitable. The screen size should be at least 1024 (H) x 768 (W) pixels. If you intend to use one of these devices please ensure you have access to a suitable desktop or laptop computer in case you are unable to carry out all the module activities on your mobile device.

We recommend a minimum 1 Mbps internet connection and any of the following browsers:

  • Internet Explorer 9 and above
  • Apple Safari 7 and above
  • Google Chrome 31 and above
  • Mozilla Firefox 31 and above.

Note: using the latest version for your browser will maximise security when accessing the internet. Using company or library computers may prevent you accessing some internet materials or installing additional software.

See our Skills for OU study website for further information about computing skills for study and educational deals for buying Microsoft Office software.

If you have a disability

The module is taught using printed and online texts, which will be available in Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions. Some PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader and mathematical, scientific, and foreign language materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. Content from the ‘Learning through Work’ website is available as Word documents. As a large proportion of the study material is delivered through online activities, resources and forums time spent time using a computer and the internet will be significant. If you use specialist hardware or software and have any concerns about accessing the materials described or submitting your assignments electronically, you are advised to contact us about the support that can be given to meet your needs.

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.