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Exploring English grammar

This module looks at how we choose to represent ourselves and our world through choices of wording and grammar and will appeal to people who enjoy an analytical approach. You will explore applications of language analysis in different work contexts and address questions such as: What makes particular texts effective? How is English used differently in different contexts? You’ll also learn how to use computer software to deepen your understanding of the grammatical differences between texts. This module is not specifically aimed at speakers of English as a second language, but will enhance all students’ linguistic awareness.

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

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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.
3 10 6
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
See Entry requirements

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What you will study

The module has four blocks, each of which includes study of a print book. Alongside these, you'll study a range of online, audiovisual material: each week you’ll have grammar activities and usually also corpus activities and sometimes grammar applications material. Occasionally you’ll also look at digital literacy material, assessment preparation and work with other students in your tutor group forum. One week at the end of each block is devoted to an area of grammar in applications, ranging from the use of computers to analysing texts in an English for Academic Purposes classroom, to how journalists write differently in tabloid and broadsheet and online newspapers, to doctor-patient interactions and how these can be made more effective. A further week per block is devoted to writing tutor-marked assignments with four weeks at the end of the module spent on a small-scale end-of-module assessment project in which you will be able to select your own area of interest to explore.

Block 1 aims to provide a gentle introduction to grammar – what is it and why is it worth studying? We will move from a review of structural terms in the early units – particularly useful if you have not studied Worlds of English (U214) – to unpacking the basics of the systemic functional linguistic approach adopted in this module. 

Block 2 focuses on the way in which we use language to experience and have ideas about the world. Known as ideational meaning, this relates to who does what to whom, how, when, where and why. 

In Block 3 we look at how texts are formed. What makes a text cohesive and coherent? Have you ever felt that some of the text that you have produced could have been organised more effectively? This is known as textual meaning.

In the first part of Block 4 we will explore how interpersonal meaning is formed in texts. How do some people manage to persuade you to change your mind on an issue, while others have little influence? Why do some people – in works of fiction or news stories or in your own lives – appear dynamic, while others seem more passive? The rest of this block pulls together the three aspects of meaning making covered in the module: ideational, textual and interpersonal – and looks at how they work together.

Throughout all four blocks you will develop your capacity to analyse, interpret and evaluate texts from the perspective of their lexicogrammatical choices and patterns – within and beyond the clause. Similarly you will develop your capacity to apply your evolving knowledge and understanding of lexicogrammar to texts and contexts relevant to you. For example you will learn how to use the corpus tool to provide robust insights in text analysis.

You will learn

By studying this module you will develop:
  • an understanding of the major characteristics of English grammar;
  • skills in language analysis and interpretation;
  • skills in applying linguistic understanding in order to evaluate and improve the quality of your written texts.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Your tutor will support you in online tutor group forums, face-to-face tutorials and synchronous online sessions.

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 must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

Future availability

Exploring English grammar (E304) starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2019. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2022.


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

    Course work includes:

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

    Course satisfaction survey

    See the satisfaction survey results for this course.

    Entry requirements

    Most students will have already studied Worlds of English (U214) before beginning their OU level 3 study. If you have not taken U214, we recommend that you allow sufficient time at the start of E304 to thoroughly study the online Grammar Activities provided and also to work through the Linguistic Toolkit (this will be provided as an online resource). 

    A reasonable level of computer literacy is expected and a willingness to engage with a new learning tool, though you will be given step-by-step guidance on how to install software, unzip files, and so on.

    This module provides a thorough grounding in the analysis of texts using traditional grammatical terms and a clear introduction to the influential approach to grammar known as Systemic Functional Linguistics. It is practically orientated, and will give you many opportunities to reflect on your own writing and how it can be improved.

    The module is skills-based so it’s important that you keep up with your studies as the module content is cumulative.

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


    Start End England fee Register
    05 Oct 2019 Jun 2020 £3012.00

    Registration closes 12/09/19 (places subject to availability)

    This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2022.

    Additional Costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a computer, 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, Mastercard, Visa 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 2020. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees. 

    This information was provided on 25/08/2019.

    What's included

    Four print study books, Corpus Tool Activities Handbook, online audiovisual and teaching material on applications of language analysis and on grammar practice activities, access to corpus software and corpora.

    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
    • Mac OS X 10.7 or higher

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

    To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).

    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 E304 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 Disability support website.