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Designing applications with Visual Basic

This module in object-oriented programming will teach you how to design and write small applications using Visual Basic Express. Software applications discussed in the module range from a very simple traffic survey application, to more complex applications that are linked to a database. Roughly one third of the module consists of important practical Visual Basic Express programming exercises, using web-based units. You’ll also use printed module books that use a design language similar to Visual Basic (VB), to learn essential programming skills. You should be ready to study computing at OU level 2 and ideally have some programming experience.

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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
2 8 5
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
See Am I ready?

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I came to this course having some experience of hobbyist programming but very little of Visual Basic. With the supplied...
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What you will study

The module is presented in four blocks. Each contains three printed units and one web-based unit. The web-based unit contains the practical work associated with the three printed units. The practical work uses an Integrated Development Environment (IDE), namely the Visual Basic Express Edition, which will be supplied on a DVD. Other module-based software will be downloadable from the website.

Whereas the web-based units implement the practical work in VB, the printed units use a slightly abstracted design code, allowing greater emphasis to be placed on generic programming issues.

The main contents of the four blocks are:

Block 1 introduces the IDE, designing simple graphical user interfaces and writing simple code for the interface using supplied code. Issues such as usability and accessibility are discussed.

Block 2 develops VB syntax and discusses designing and writing the code that is behind the user interface. You’ll finish by designing a complete application for simple encrypting of pieces of text that consolidates the ideas in Blocks 1 and 2.

Block 3 looks at handling text, graphics and sound. It deals with fonts and colour as well as more complex graphical ideas. The contents include discussion of saving and loading files and a short discussion of printing. The final unit looks at ideas about animation and designing simple games. Several complete applications will be developed in the practical work.

Block 4 mainly concerns databases, one of the most common uses of software today. It teaches enough about databases to enable the development of simple applications making use of an existing database. It does not teach design of databases but how to use them. The final unit gives an overview of the module and revisits many of the ideas. It also shows how the design language used is a portable skill by translating a simple class design into C#.

The module emphasises good code design and documentation for portability and ease of maintenance. There’s also an emphasis placed on the need to keep the design and coding of the underlying model separate from the design and coding of the user interface.

Designing applications with Visual Basic is one of the modules listed as a possible prerequisite for the Accreditation of Certified Practitioners 2 (TM227).

You will learn

After studying this module, you’ll be able to design and write small software applications. Application design will be in two parts: the user interface and the underlying model that does the work of the application.

Vocational relevance

This module is relevant if you already work, or would like to work, with computing and IT systems and are looking to improve your grasp of the principles of software-based technologies. It is also a module of various qualifications that build skills in designing, developing and deploying IT systems.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will be assigned a tutor who will support your study on the module by a mixture of formal and informal contact and marking your assignments. Contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service 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.

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in October 2014 when it will be available for the last time. A replacement is not planned.


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)
No residential school


This is an OU level 2 module and you need to have a good knowledge of the subject area, obtained either through OU level 1 study, or by doing equivalent work at another university.

You will need to be confident using a personal computer and have experience of writing small computer programs. You should also be able to write short explanations of technical ideas in your own words, and be able to communicate with others electronically.

You are expected to be familiar with:

  • basic programming concepts such as assignment to variables, sequence, selection and iteration
  • the basic components and working of a computer.

The key introductory OU level 1 module My digital life (TU100) would be ideal preparation for this module.

You can also try the quiz Are you ready for MT264? to see if you have an aptitude to pick up programming reasonably quickly.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service.


Start End England fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015 -

Registration now closed

The deadline for financial support applications has now passed

October 2014 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.

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 based upon current details for  year 1 August 2014 to 31 July 2015.
This information was provided on 22/09/2014.

What's included

A DVD-ROM containing VB Express and some associated software, 12 printed units, 4 web-based units, module guide, software guide, module handbook and website.

You will need

You require internet access at least once a week during the module to download module resources and to keep up to date with module news.

In order to successfully run the module software, we recommend that you have a minimum of 1GB of memory (RAM) on the computer that you will use for your studies.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this module. It includes online activities – you can access using a web browser – and some module software provided on disk.

  • If you have purchased a new desktop or laptop computer running Windows since 2008 you should have no problems completing the computer-based activities.
  • A netbook, tablet or other mobile device is not suitable for this module – check our Technical requirements section.
  • If you have an Apple Mac or Linux computer – please note that you can only use it for this module by running Windows on it using Boot Camp or a similar dual-boot system.

You can also visit the Technical requirements section for further computing information (including details of the support we provide).

If you have a disability

Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader and mathematical and scientific materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. Other alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future. 

The module contains a significant amount of practical work using a computer. Students with visual impairments may have difficulty with some parts of the module. It may be necessary to have an amanuensis to help with some parts of the practical work.

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.