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English for academic purposes online

This completely online module aims to develop the communication skills you need for successful academic study in English. Throughout the module, you will work with a wide range of texts from different subject areas. By exploring such a range of areas you will develop your academic English whatever your chosen field. You will use your knowledge and experience as you explore ways of reading and writing academic texts. You will also develop your academic listening and speaking skills in an online environment.

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?

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What you will study

This is an English for academic purposes module for the digital age. It will improve your performance in contemporary university study through the medium of English.

To succeed at university, you need to be able to read and think about a wide range of study material, make useful notes, and write assignments that ‘answer the question’. This module will help you to develop the skills and language for doing this. You will develop academic English by turning academic reading and listening into academic writing and speaking. You will explore how university study materials are organised and how academic language is used in them. You will work with student assignment texts to see how other students have turned reading and listening into writing and speaking. Finally, you will put into practice what you have learned. Throughout the module, you will be asked to think about your own ways of writing and how they compare with the academic ways you are studying.

The module is made up of 40 per cent reading, 40 per cent writing, 10 per cent listening and 10 per cent speaking.

You will work with authentic materials from a range of Open University modules. These materials are divided into two broad areas of academic study: science, maths, computing and technology; and the arts, humanities, social sciences, business and health studies. You will look at the similarities and differences across these areas. This will give you the chance to develop the particular language and skills you need for your own chosen areas of study.

Most of the work, including your interactions with the study materials, your tutor and other students on the module, will be online. Online communication is an important component of the module. You will be able to manipulate and discuss study materials, contribute writing and recordings for comment from other students, and read, listen to and comment on fellow students’ work in order to exchange ideas and experience. You will be able to submit drafts of your written and oral work to, for example, a forum and receive feedback from your tutor and fellow students.

Because the module is online, you will look at some of the aspects of academic English that come into focus in a global online environment. This includes the growing importance of multiple media in academic study (i.e. the combination of written language, images, graphs, audio and video input).

You will learn

At the end of the module, you will have developed your understanding of:

  • your own way of communicating and working in academic situations
  • a wide range of academic texts, including: description, cause and effect analysis, comparison, explanation, evaluation, persuasion and argument
  • text, paragraph and sentence structure
  • academic vocabulary
  • how to make the most of your computer in academic study
  • how to communicate more effectively in a global academic and work environment.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor to help you with the study materials and to mark and comment on your work. You will be able to ask your tutor for advice and guidance and, if you are new to The Open University, help you with study methods. An important element of the module is the feedback you receive from your tutor on the work you do as part of the module. Feedback provides the basis for your development as a student, and you will be able to contact your tutor by email or phone throughout the 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 must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

The end-of-module assessment (EMA) is an essay project. There is a single oral TMA which requires you to use software to record audio files (e.g. Audio Recording Tool).

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)
1 Interactive computer-marked assignment (iCMA)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

Course satisfaction survey

See the satisfaction survey results for this course.


This is an OU level 1 module. OU level 1 modules provide core subject knowledge and study skills needed for both higher education and distance learning, to help you progress to higher levels.

There are no academic entrance requirements for this module but a certain level of English is recommended, though not compulsory.

The Skills for OU study website provides further information and support on improving your English skills.

Please note that:

  • If you live outside the UK and English is not your first language, the module starts at an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) level of approximately 5 (that is, a Common European Framework level of B1/B2, or equivalent), in each of the four English language skills (reading, writing, listening and speaking). You can find out more about the different levels at this website.
  • If you live in the UK and English is your first language, the module starts at a Skills for Life literacy level of approximately Level 1 or equivalent.
  • If you live in the UK and English is not your first language, the module starts at a Skills for Life ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) level of approximately Level 1 or equivalent.

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 £1350.00

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 2018.

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 30/07/2015.

What's included

A website with online materials and activities.

You will need

You will need a headset with a microphone and earphones to record audio files as part of your assessment for this module.

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

As this module and its assessment are delivered online, you will need to spend considerable amounts of time using a personal 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 study materials outlined you are advised to contact us about support which can be given to meet your needs.

Transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available on the module website. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader. 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.