This qualification has two stages, each comprising 120 credits.
- At Stage 1 you can choose between an introduction to the social sciences or childhood studies. You’ll follow this with your first core psychology module.
- At Stage 2, you’ll study one or two modules from a range of complementary topics and will complete your diploma with a second core psychology module.
Optional Access module – visit Entry requirements to find out about starting this course with a preparatory Access module.
In Stage 1, you’ll be introduced to some of the big topics in psychology and the academic skills for successful study. You’ll start with one of two options – a core social science module covering criminology, sociology and other related areas; or a broad introduction to interdisciplinary childhood studies. Both will set the scene for your compulsory psychology module.
You’ll explore the areas of psychology that most interest you – choosing from options such as child psychology, mental health, and sports psychology – and cover those specified by the British Psychological Society. You’ll consider how psychologists explain the way we think, feel and behave; and encounter a variety of studies, experiments, interviews and clinical investigations in different settings: including the laboratory, home and clinic. You’ll learn how psychological knowledge develops, and carry out short practical projects to develop your skills.
We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 10 February 2020.
We make all our qualifications as accessible as possible and have a comprehensive range of services to support all our students. The Diploma of Higher Education in Psychology uses a variety of study materials and has the following elements:
- studying a mixture of printed and online material – online learning resources may include websites, audio/video media clips, and interactive activities such as online quizzes
- using mathematical and scientific expressions, notations and associated techniques
- working in a group with other students
- using and producing diagrams or screenshots
- undertaking practical work
- finding external/third party material online
- some modules may require you to use specialist software (for example SPSS software for statistical analysis).
For more detailed information, see the Accessibility Statements on individual module descriptions. If you feel you may need additional support, visit Disability support to find more about what we offer.
Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment
This qualification develops your learning in four main areas:
- Knowledge and understanding
- Cognitive skills
- Practical and professional skills
- Key skills
The level and depth of your learning gradually increases as you work through the qualification. You’ll be supported throughout by the OU’s unique style of teaching and assessment – which includes a personal tutor to guide and comment on your work; top quality course texts; elearning resources like podcasts, interactive media and online materials; tutorial groups and community forums.
Read the detailed learning outcomes here
If you have already studied at university level, you may be able to count it towards your Open University qualification – which could save you time and money by reducing the number of modules you need to study. At the OU we call this credit transfer.
It’s not just university study that can be considered, you can also transfer study from a wide range of professional or vocational qualifications such as HNCs and HNDs.
You should apply for credit transfer before you register, at least 4 weeks before the registration closing date. We will need to know what you studied, where and when and you will need to provide evidence of your previous study.
For more details of when you will need to apply by and to download an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.
On completion of this undergraduate course, we'll award you the Diploma of Higher Education in Psychology.
As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the qualification-specific regulations below and the academic regulations that are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.
There are no formal entry requirements for this qualification.
At The Open University we believe education should be open to all, so we provide a high-quality university education to anyone who wishes to realise their ambitions and fulfil their potential.
Even though there are no entry requirements, there are some skills that you'll need to succeed. If you're not quite ready for OU study we can guide you to resources that prepare you, many of which are free.
Answer a few quick questions to check whether you're ready for study success
How much time do I need?
Find out if you have enough time to study with our time planner
- Most of our students study part time, completing 60 credits a year.
- This will usually mean studying for 16–18 hours a week.
Preparing for study with an Access module
If your study skills are a bit rusty or you want to try out Open University study before committing yourself, don’t worry! The OU offers Access modules designed to introduce the subject area, build your confidence and prepare you for further study, and you may be eligible to study an Access module for free! You'll get:
- a personal tutor providing regular feedback with one to one telephone tutorials
- support from a dedicated team throughout your study
- detailed written feedback.
For this qualification we recommend:
People, work and society Access module
Skills for career development
This qualification introduces the fundamental conceptual issues in psychology and the different ways in which psychological knowledge can be constructed. You'll learn how to use, evaluate and present evidence and data, and appreciate how psychologists use evidence-based research to contribute to debates on ageing, crime, education, employment, forensic science, mental health and relationships. You'll also develop many transferable and work-related skills that are highly valued by employers.
- accessing and interpreting information
- constructing arguments
- presenting and communicating information
- IT and data handling
- application of learning to real world problems and situations
- time management
- independent learning.
Psychology students gain an impressive breadth of knowledge and skills that make them highly employable in a wide range of careers, such as:
- career counselling
- the health professions
- human resources
- police and social services.
Exploring your options
Once you register with us (and for up to three years after you finish your studies), you’ll have full access to our careers service for a wide range of information and advice. This includes online forums, website, interview simulation, vacancy service as well as the option to email or speak to a careers adviser. Some areas of the website are available to see at any time, including help with looking for and applying for jobs. You can also read more general information about how OU study enhances your career.
In the meantime if you want to do some research around this qualification and where it might take you, we’ve put together a list of relevant job titles as a starting point. Most careers will require further study, training and/or work experience:
- clinical psychologist
- counselling psychologist
- educational psychologist
- social worker
- advertising planner
- marketing executive
- human resources manager
- retail management
- forensic psychologist
- health psychologist
- occupational psychologist
- sports and exercise psychologist.