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Cisco networking (CCNA)

Cisco Systems are market leaders in supplying networking equipment for the internet. They also have a well-established educational programme for network professionals. As a Cisco Academy, The Open University offers the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) (CCENT and CCNA) Version 5 curriculum, which provides the knowledge, understanding, and skills needed to configure a LAN/WAN using Cisco equipment. You’ll also gain hands-on experience of configuring networks at four compulsory day schools. When you’ve completed the module you should be well prepared for the industry-standard CCNA certification examinations. You’ll need to make your own arrangements to sit these – there are exam centres all over the world.

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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 9 5
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
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This is a very in-depth module on Cisco networking. The suggested time for studying per week was only a guide...
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A well presented course with excellent support from peers and tutor. The work load was tough and only just do-able....
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What you will study

Cisco qualifications are highly regarded in the networking industry and their position at the leading edge of network development means that their academy program is right up to date.

You’ll study this module using an online virtual learning environment provided by Cisco, and develop practical skills, using real networking equipment, at the four compulsory day schools. View a sample ‘chapter’ of the CCNA Version 4 Exploration curriculum for an example of the type of materials you will encounter – note that the actual content and style of the Version 5 curriculum materials will differ.

Pearson VUE offer the CCNA certification exams – visit their website to find the locations of their centres.

The day schools are essential for gaining a full understanding of how to configure network equipment. You’ll be expected to configure routers and switches as part of the practical activities carried out at the day schools. The activities will be carried out in groups, and you’ll need to prepare for these day schools using simulation tools provided as part of the online curriculum. Cisco insist that day schools are included in this module, which reflects the importance they place on the practical component.

The module is structured into four parts:

1. Introduction to Networks introduces the architecture, structure, functions, components, and models of the internet and other computer networks. The principles and structure of IP addressing and the fundamentals of Ethernet concepts, media, and operations are introduced to provide a foundation for the curriculum. By the end of this part, you will be able to build simple LANs, perform basic configurations for routers and switches, and implement IP addressing schemes.

2. Routing and Switching Essentials describes the architecture, components, and operations of routers and switches in a small network. You will learn how to configure a router and a switch for basic functionality. By the end of this part, you will be able to configure and troubleshoot routers and switches and resolve common issues with RIPv1, RIPv2, single-area and multi-area OSPF, virtual LANs, and inter-VLAN routing in both IPv4 and IPv6 networks.

3. Scaling Networks describes the architecture, components, and operations of routers and switches in a larger and more complex network. You will learn how to configure routers and switches for advanced functionality. By the end of this part, you will be able to configure and troubleshoot routers and switches and resolve common issues with OSPF, EIGRP, STP, and VTP in both IPv4 and IPv6 networks. You will also develop the knowledge and skills needed to implement DHCP and DNS operations in a network.

4. Connecting Networks discusses the WAN technologies and network services required by converged applications in a complex network. Completing this part will enable you to understand the selection criteria of network devices and WAN technologies to meet network requirements. You will learn how to configure and troubleshoot network devices and resolve common issues with data link protocols. You will also develop the knowledge and skills needed to implement IPSec and virtual private network (VPN) operations in a complex network.

Full details of the Cisco Academy Program are available on the Academy website.

Cisco networking (CCNA) is one of the modules listed as a possible prerequisite for the Accreditation of Certificated Practitioners 2 (TM227).

Day schools

This module includes four compulsory day schools. To pass this module and gain the completion certificates from Cisco, you must attend all four day schools and complete an online Cisco examination at the end of each day school.

Day schools will be held on Saturdays (and occasional Sundays at specific venues) and there will be a choice of dates (usually two different weekends, per venue, per day school). The cost of attendance at the day schools is included in the module fee but you’re expected to make your own travel arrangements. In exceptional circumstances an Alternative Learning Experience (ALE) can be provided. Exceptional circumstances include students who are registered disabled, the carer of a registered disabled person, members of HM Forces (or their dependants) serving abroad or HM Government employees (or their dependants) working abroad.  Other applications will be considered on an individual basis.

Unless you need to study this module as part of an OU qualification, do not choose it if you think that you will be unable to travel to the day schools.  Students outside of the UK and Ireland may prefer to study for Cisco CCNA at a local academy.

Venues for day schools will depend on student numbers and may include Birmingham, Camborne (Cornwall), Dublin, Glasgow, London, Luton, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Sunderland and Swansea.

Vocational relevance

On completion of the Cisco CCNA® Version 5 curriculum, you’ll be in a position to take the CCNA certification exams, a widely recognised work-based qualification. These are available at Pearson Vue venues and are not organised by The Open University (OU).

The CCNA is an internationally sought certification, equally recognised by the IT and Telecommunications sectors as the starting point for career progression and development for network engineers. Taking the CCNA at the OU, enables you to gain essential academic credit as part of the qualifications listed below, which enhances your long term career prospects.

The OU also offers the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) programme using the latest CCNP curriculum. This comprises a set of four 30-credit modules at postgraduate level and leads to the award of an OU Postgraduate Diploma in Advanced Networking (E51).

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material, mark and comment on your written work and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. Your tutor is the first point of contact for any queries on 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).

Please note that there are four Cisco examinations in addition to the TMAs and the hand-written end-of-module examination. At the end of each of the four parts of the Cisco curriculum there is an online Cisco final examination, which is taken at the four day schools (or Alternative Learning Experience).  The scores you gain may contribute to your overall OU module result, as in some TMAs marks may be awarded for your Cisco final examination results.

Future availability

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


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:

5 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
No residential school

Course satisfaction survey

See the satisfaction survey results for this course.


This is an OU level 2 module, but no skill or knowledge in this area is assumed.

Basic numeracy is expected. Because all of the study material is online, you should be confident in the use of a computer to access the web, and you should be prepared to spend most of your study time online.

This 60-credit module is studied over nine months. Please be aware that you will need to spend 16-20 hours per week studying this module over the nine-month period.

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 2017.

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 05/08/2015.

What's included

Access to the Cisco study material and additional supplementary material supplied via the website. The study material is provided by Cisco who, amongst other industry leaders, promotes diversity in their workforce and are working with The Open University to support women entrants into the CCNA program.

Four hands-on compulsory day schools (please ensure you budget for travelling to these day schools).

You will need

You must have a broadband connection to the internet as the study material is only accessible online. The study material contains active content, which means that you will need to set up your firewall to allow pop-ups from the Cisco and OU sites.

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

The study materials are available online. Some components may not be fully accessible using a screen reader. 

Each of the four compulsory day schools includes a Cisco online examination that usually takes about an hour and a half to complete. If you have a disability you may be allowed additional time to complete the examination, or take an Alternative Learning Experience (ALE) at home at a later date.

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.