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Personal investment in an uncertain world

Why, where and how should I invest? How are these decisions affected by economic uncertainty? What is the relationship between risk and return? These are some of the questions addressed in Personal investment in an uncertain world. Investment planning requires financial decisions about the allocation of resources in a world of uncertainties that affect the value of pensions, shares and bonds. You’ll learn how to understand the sources of uncertainty, the way that financial service providers adapt to it and how individuals form personal strategies to manage it.

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Module code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
Study level

Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU module levels correspond to these frameworks.

2 8 5
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
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What you will study

The module is taught through three broad themes aimed at helping you understand the concepts that underpin investment planning.

1: Risk and return
The main building blocks of investment are savings (cash), bonds, shares and property. All of them – even cash which is particularly vulnerable to inflation – involve risks.  You will be shown how to build a portfolio, using financial and economic modelling (such as the Capital Asset Pricing Model), that manages and spreads risk while pursuing higher returns. You will explore and critique how economic theories have shaped the investment funds on offer to the public, and learn how to interpret published information about these funds.

2: Uncertainty and change
Some events that have a critical impact on investments cannot be predicted. Socio-economic changes can increase the uncertainty that surrounds investment decisions. This theme explores the importance to personal investment of economic forces, government policies, ageing populations, and unforeseen events.

3: Regulation and ethics
Investors need to be assured that financial institutions and the wider financial system are safe. They also need to be confident that providers and sellers of financial products are behaving in an ethical way.  But, as with most things, there is a cost to regulation. How much regulation is enough? Does regulation deliver enough benefits to justify its cost?

Supporting study materials and the skills you will gain
The module is delivered using a textbook and the module website. The website, which accounts for roughly half of the study materials has:

  • audio-visual trigger topics that relate the study material to important economic events such as bank crashes, stock market bubbles and pension crises
  • interactive online activities to consolidate your learning
  • an Investment Tool that performs most of the required numerical analysis for you.

However you will be introduced to a small amount of straightforward arithmetic that will help you understand the underlying mechanisms and assumptions underpinning investment theories.

Taken together, the knowledge and understanding you gain from studying this module will deliver two types of crucial skills: skills that are highly practical and relevant in your everyday life, and key practical and professional skills that are essential for a career in the financial services industry.

Although you will acquire knowledge and skills that may help you in your own investment planning, you should be aware that this module does not give personal investment advice.

Vocational relevance

This module is appropriate if you wish to understand or manage your own investments. However, it also has particular relevance if you are working in, or aiming to work in, the financial services industry. It teaches crucial knowledge and skills supporting investment planning, and encourages a thoughtful and ethical approach to their application. 

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance with your studies. There will be group tutorials that you are encouraged but not obliged to attend. Where your tutorials are held will depend on the number of students doing the module locally to you.

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 can choose whether to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) on paper or online through the eTMA system. You may want to use the eTMA system for some of your assignments but submit on paper for others. This is entirely your choice.

The end-of-module assessment (EMA) may be submitted online (recommended) or on paper.

Future availability

Personal investment in an uncertain world starts once a year – October 2018 is the last time we expect it to start. A replacement module, Economics for professionals (DD226) is planned for October 2020. 


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Essential Documents website.

    Course work includes:

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

    Course satisfaction survey

    See the satisfaction survey results for this course.

    Entry requirements

    The OU level 1 module You and your money (DB125), or its predecessor DB123, is excellent preparation for this module.

    Personal investment in an uncertain world is an OU level 2 module and you need the general study techniques appropriate to OU level 2 study, such as engaging with the argument of the text and taking notes; the ability to extract information from different sources, including tables and graphs; handling evidence in support of arguments; and making critical analyses of topics. 

    The module does not assume that you have mathematics beyond elementary arithmetic, but will introduce additional techniques including understanding graphs, diagrams, and the occasional elementary equation. It also introduces you to basic statistical concepts (standard deviation and correlation), but you will not be required to calculate these for yourself as an online Investment Tool is provided.

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


    Start End England fee Register
    06 Oct 2018 Mar 2019 £1464.00

    Registration closes 13/09/18 (places subject to availability)

    October 2018 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.

    Additional Costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a laptop, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

    If you're on a low income you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after your module has started.

    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 monthly fee and number of instalments based on the cost of the module you are studying. APR 5.1% representative.

    Joint loan applications

    If you feel you would be unable to obtain an OUSBA loan on your own due to credit history or affordability issues, OUSBA offers the option to apply for a joint loan application with a third party. For example, your husband, wife, partner, parent, sibling or friend. In such cases, OUSBA will be required to carry out additional affordability checks separately and/or collectively for both joint applicants who will be jointly and severally liable for loan repayments.

    As additional affordability checks are required when processing joint loan applications, unfortunately, an instant decision cannot be given. On average the processing time for a joint loan application is five working days from receipt of the required documentation.

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

    Employer sponsorship

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

    More than one in ten OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the module 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 module.  

    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. 

    Mixed payments

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

    For more information about combining payment options, speak to an adviser or book a call back at a time convenient to you.

    Please 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 fees and funding information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2019. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees. 

    This information was provided on 17/08/2018.

    What's included

    Textbook and the website (VLE), which includes audio-visual material, skills support, tutorial and financial tools.

    Computing requirements

    A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module.  Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

    Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

    A desktop or laptop computer with either:

    • Windows 7 or higher
    • macOS 10.7 or higher

    The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To participate in our online-discussion area you will need both a microphone and speakers/headphones. 

    Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students. 

    If you have a disability

    The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying DB234 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

    To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our Overcoming barriers to study if you have a disability or health condition website.