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Keeping ahead in information and communication technologies

Keeping ahead in information and communication technologies (ICT) not only means keeping up to date with rapidly changing technologies. It also means successfully using these new technologies in complex systems in which people play a major part. Therefore this module addresses the two important questions: How do you keep up to date and how can you analyse ICT systems and take account of social factors? This module will equip you with the skills to tackle these questions, in the context of studying several contemporary ICT systems. By the end, you should be well-placed as an independent learner to ‘keep ahead in ICT’.

There is a £500 prize for the best performing student on each presentation of this module. This prize honours the memory of Rory Bailey, an Open University student and lecturer.

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.

Browse qualifications in related subjects


Module code
Study level
3 10 6
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
See Am I ready?

Student Reviews

I enjoyed T324, especially Block 1 (the biggest block by far) which covered the fundamentals of radio waves and wireless...
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A real gem of a course, I found the material enjoyable and the TMAs straightforward, but challenging. However I struggled...
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What you will study

The module consists of three 10-credit Blocks, with the precise content changing from year to year as the technology changes. In addition to studying some specially written material you will research the subject for yourself. The module structure is as follows:

Block 1: Wireless technologies. The rapid development of mobile digital wireless communications (which includes wi-fi, Bluetooth etc.), is made possible by a range of factors ranging from scientific principles to economic and regulatory constraints. Block 1 looks at some of these factors - specifically, electromagnetic radiation and its spectrum, modulation and multiplexing, spectrum regulation and networking protocols.

Block 2: Wireless sensor networks: an investigation. This block guides you through a search for technical documents and provides an opportunity for and help in reading specialist, technical articles and reports. The focus for the enquiry is on systems that use large numbers of wireless sensors, their applications and technical issues that arise in deploying them. The in-depth reading will not only update your technological knowledge and understanding, it will also help you develop your researching skills.

Block 3: ICTs in context. In this block you will investigate how social, cultural and political environments influence the ways ICTs have evolved and are used. You will develop your skills of critical analysis of ICT systems, including an examination of why so many large-scale systems fail, and you will also look at ICTs in the developing world.

If you are considering progressing to The computing and IT project (TM470), this is one of the OU level 3 modules on which you could base your project topic. Normally, you should have completed one of these OU level 3 modules (or be currently studying one) before registering for the project module.

You will learn

After completing this module you should, among other things:

  • understand the basic principles of wireless technologies
  • have a knowledge of one or more emerging standards in the wireless area
  • understand the technologies of large-scale wireless sensor systems
  • understand how ICT systems are influenced by their social, cultural and political contexts
  • understand the structure of a typical specialist document dealing with an ICT topic
  • be able to extract useful information from highly technical documents, including journal articles, product information, websites, etc.
  • be able to learn independently from such materials, in order to keep up to date in ICT
  • be able to evaluate critically a range of resource materials originating from third parties, including news items and general interest publications
  • have improved your written communication skills in a range of ICT topics.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. We may also be able to offer group tutorials or day schools that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to attend. Where your tutorials are held will depend on the distribution of students taking 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 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 2015 when it will be available for the last time. A new module in a similar subject area is planned for October 2016.


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:

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
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 levels 1 and 2. They are intended only for students who have recent experience of higher education in a related subject, preferably with the OU. 

You need familiarity with the language and modelling techniques used by technologists, such as you would get from OU level 2  technology modules, for example Communication and information technologies (T215).

You should:

  • be experienced in using a computer for working with documents, spreadsheets and accessing the internet
  • have basic mathematical skills so that you can work with algebraic equations and carry out numerical calculations
  • be familiar with communication technology at a level equivalent to successful study of T215.

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

Preparatory work

You should revise the material on communication technology in any OU level 2 modules you have already taken. T529, the ICT CD-ROM distributed with a number of ICT modules, is also a useful source of revision material.


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.

October 2015 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.

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

Module books, other printed materials, DVD, online forum, module website.

Some (assessable) material may be provided only in electronic format via the module 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. For this module you will also need to install software provided by the OU on a disk or USB stick.

A Windows desktop or laptop computer running Windows 7 or later operating system is suitable for this module. You will be required to install Microsoft Windows specific software.

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 module uses complicated diagrams extensively, so it could be demanding if you have impaired sight. Text descriptions of graphical material developed by The Open University are provided, but these will not necessarily be available for third-party materials. Written transcripts are available for audio material. The printed study materials are available in Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). Nevertheless, not all components may be available or fully accessible using a screen reader and mathematical expressions may be particularly difficult to read in this way.

You will need to spend considerable amounts of time using a personal computer and the internet.

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.