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Engineering: an active introduction

At this residential module you will experience laboratory, field and creative work as carried out by engineers. You’ll also gain practical skills invaluable for an engineering, technology or science-based degree: taking measurements, analysing data, seeking and evaluating information, modelling, problem-solving, and design for decision-making. Working in a small team, you’ll develop these skills through enjoyable, interactive learning activities. You will define your learning needs and plan ways of meeting them with the support of experienced tutors. The school is held at the University of Bath with a choice of dates in July – register early if you have a preference, as unfortunately we can’t always offer your first choice.

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
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What you will study

The core of this module is a residential week that includes laboratory activities, fieldwork, group activities and workshops. It provides an environment for intensive study and support activities appropriate to OU level 1 study.

Throughout the week you will experience working in an academic community and meet students with similar interests from a wide range of backgrounds. This will give you an opportunity to develop team skills such as collaborating, negotiating and communicating effectively.

Before the residential week there will be some preparatory work to assess your educational skills and knowledge, together with some introductory learning on the topics covered at the residential week. Afterwards, you will use the skills acquired at the residential week to complete an end-of-module assessment that includes elements of a report and reflection on the learning outcomes achieved.

You will take part in five main activities:

  • Energy conversion: Operating as a small company, each group will carry out various steps in a laboratory to extract copper from an industrial waste material, including crushing the waste and setting up a circuit to extract the copper by electrolysis. You will be measuring the yield and energy use, and considering the accuracy and cost. You will then be able to model the process before deciding your bid price.
  • Structures: Working with a partner to design and build a bridge, you have to work out which parts need to be flexible and which must be rigid. You will learn and apply some of the methods of structural engineering and use some interactive computer-aided design (CAD) software to explore possible designs. And finally, you have to put your bridge to the test, to see how well it supports a load!
  • Robotics: Working as a member of a team you will use a prototype mobile 'rescue robot' to explore a simulated hazardous environment. You will compare several ways of controlling robots, including remote control and teleoperation via video link. You will also program your robot so that it can perform its rescue mission autonomously.
  • Noise: Noise level measurements and noise reduction are a topical subject in the area of environmental engineering. As part of a group, you’ll conduct noise level measurements off campus at a city centre location. Each group will work to analyse and compare their measurements with standard models, with an aim to consider potential future control of noise levels.
  • Materials processing: You will examine the behaviour and processing of materials. This will involve practical experimentation, the collection and collation of information from a variety of sources, including the internet, and a short presentation of your findings.

The residential week is an intense programme of study. The laboratory sessions run from 09:00 to 17:00 with a break for lunch (with the exception of one afternoon where you have a break). You will have a short break during the morning and afternoon sessions. There are optional tutorials and lectures from 19:00 until 21:00 in the evenings after dinner.

Vocational relevance

The module offers opportunities to develop and practise a range of key skills, including communication skills that you will find useful both for studying and learning, and in the workplace. In particular, you will be applying technical skills to real technological situations as you work with others, communicate your findings and monitor and evaluate your own performance.

Outside the UK

Preparatory work for this module can be done outside the UK. However, it is essential to travel to a UK-based site for the short residential period.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Before the residential school you will have access to an online forum for the module where you can discuss your preparation for the school with other students and get help from the module team. Specialist tutors will guide you through the activities at the residential site, assist with optional evening tutorial sessions and help you prepare for the final module assignment.

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 must submit your end-of-module assessment (EMA) online.

There is an interactive computer-marked assessment (iCMA) before the residential school – this is to help you gauge how well prepared you are for the residential week – it does not count towards your final grade. The EMA, completed after the residential school, will involve writing about different aspects of the various residential school activities and writing a summary of achievements with respect to the learning outcomes of the module. You will also be assessed on your satisfactory participation in the residential school activities.

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in May 2014. We expect it to be available at the same time once a year and the last starting date to be in 2017.


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:

End-of-module assessment
Stand-alone residential school


OU level 1 modules provide core subject knowledge and study skills needed for both higher education and distance learning, to help you to progress to modules at OU level 2.

This module will appeal to a wide variety of people, especially if you are interested in or curious about engineering, science and technology, and the technological decisions that influence our lives.

It is suitable to study before or alongside one of the OU level 1 technology modules: Engineering the future (T174) or Design thinking: creativity for the 21st Century (U101).

If you would like more information about how this module fits with other engineering and technology modules you can visit our Engineering website.

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


Start End England fee Register
01 May 2015 Oct 2015 £439.00

Registration closes 30/04/15 (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.

01 May 2016 Oct 2016 Not yet available

Registration opens on 01/10/15

Additional Costs

Residential School fees

This module will include a residential school, when you study this the tuition fee may not include accommodation and meals, and you may be asked to pay an additional fee of up to £255. You will also be responsible for the cost of your travel to the venue. If you're on a low income you will be able to apply for help with these costs after you've registered.

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 or request a call back.

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 26/10/2014.

What's included

Preparatory materials; online learning materials and self-assessment; Residential School Handbook and other printed materials; assignment book.

The cost of accommodation and meals at the residential school for this module starting in May 2013 and May 2014 is included in the fee shown above.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this module as it includes online activities, which you can access using a web browser.

  • If you have purchased a new desktop or laptop computer since 2008 you should have no problems completing the online activities.
  • If you’ve got a netbook, tablet or other mobile device check our Technical requirements section.
  • If you use an Apple Mac you will need OS X 10.7 or later.

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

If you have a disability

Elements of this module and some of the assessment is delivered online. If you use specialist software or hardware to assist you in using a personal computer or the internet and have any concerns about accessing these types of materials you are advised to talk to the Student Registration & Enquiry Service about support which can be given to meet your needs.

Every effort has been made to optimise access at the site of the residential activity. In addition, the practical work is carried out in small teams, allowing work to be shared according to aptitude and ability.

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, scientific, and foreign language materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. 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.