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Exploring practice

Do you regularly find yourself asking questions of your work setting? Have you ever reflected on how effective aspects of your practice provision are? Exploring practice enables you to examine in detail a project theme pertinent to your practice. This unique opportunity promotes development of personal and professional learning in evidence-based practice and culminates in detailed action planning, exploring implications for change and improvements in practice. This online module is readily accessible to busy practitioners through its learning and teaching strategies which seek to facilitate and support your exploration of practice. It is open to an inter-professional audience, including youth justice workers, nurses and allied health professionals and social workers.

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
3 10 6
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
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What you will study

This module is about developing your ability to negotiate, plan and undertake a work-based project, and is designed to build on experience and develop practice. It will develop your confidence and competence as a practitioner, enabling you to assess evidence and draw appropriately on research findings. You will learn how to handle uncertainty and change and throughout the module you will relate learning to practice. The module is relevant to youth justice, social work, nursing and the allied health professions. To complete the module successfully you need recent relevant work experience – contact us for further advice.

This module provides you with the skills needed to work independently and to interrogate critically the evidence of your practice in terms of knowledge and change creation. It provides you with the opportunity to demonstrate your learning within the workplace through an independent learning journey culminating in a written project of 7000 words.

You will develop the following key skills on this module:

  • ability to learn in new and unfamiliar situations from differing sources and experiences
  • appreciation of multiple perspectives  and their effect on decision making
  • ability to manage complexity and critically analyse, synthesise and evaluate new information in the context of its use
  • ability to use information literacy, ICT tools and numeracy skills as appropriate to find, evaluate, process, present and communicate information
  • ability to frame and address issues appropriate to your work, being aware of their context and environment
  • independently plan, monitor, evaluate and improve your own learning and performance.

The central learning resource for this online module is its website. You will use it to plan and conduct your studies via the interactive learning guide. This guide, coupled with the online calendar, will provide the ‘road maps’ for the progression of your project. You’ll be directed to online tools that are provided to support your project development, and collaboration with your peers will form an essential component of your learning journey.

Vocational relevance

This module will have relevance for your practice and practice setting. You will need to engage with your workplace line manager and develop a negotiated learning contract in relation to the area of practice you wish to investigate further. While this module does not provide you with a registered qualification, you will be able to use it towards your continuing professional development (CPD) and in some cases, it may meet your professional CPD requirements – please check with your professional body. This module also has relevance in your workplace and may form part of your professional development within your organisation.

Outside the UK

If you work in a health and social care setting outside the UK, this module may be suitable given that it is about the development of independent learning within a health and social care work setting. You will need to be in a practice setting and have a line manager to negotiate your work-based project. This module is delivered and assessed in English.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will be supported by an OU tutor who will be able to guide you through your learning on a one-to-one basis via email, telephone and online forum discussions. You will engage with your tutor group through online group discussions facilitated by your tutor. Your tutor will provide individualised support in preparation for and feedback on your assignments.

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 TMAs are formative; your tutor will provide you with feedback relevant to the progression of your independent project. These assignments do not contribute towards your final assessment score but they are compulsory. The end-of-module assessment (EMA) is a 7000-word project report, which is submitted on paper.

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in October 2015. We expect it to be available once a year.


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:

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

Course satisfaction survey

See the satisfaction survey results for this course.


This is an OU level 3 module. OU level 3 modules build on study skills and subject knowledge acquired from studies at OU levels 1 and 2 and challenge you with advanced topics at undergraduate level. They are equivalent to the final year of an honours degree. These modules are also suitable if you already have a degree and want to update your knowledge. 

Some study at OU level 2 would put you in a strong position to enjoy this module and rise to its challenges. Its academic content has a direct bearing on practice, so you should have relevant experience to draw on to complete the module activities and assessment. 

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


Start End England fee Register
03 Oct 2015 Jun 2016 £2700.00

Registration closes 10/09/15 (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 October 2020.

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 you register.

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.

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 ten 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. 

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 that is 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 2016. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees. 

This information was provided on 02/08/2015.

What's included

All the module teaching and library resources are available online through the website.

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. Any other computer-based activities you will need to carry out, such as word processing, using spreadsheets, taking part in online forums, and submitting files to the university for assessment, are specified in the module materials. If any additional software is needed for these tasks it 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

Written transcripts of any audio components are available. The materials for this module are provided as a series of web pages via the module website and should be accessible using screen readers. Other alternative formats of the module materials may be available in the future.

If you use specialist hardware or software to assist you in using a computer or the internet and have concerns about accessing online resources you are advised to talk to an advisor about support which 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.