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Leadership and management in health and social care

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The delivery of successful health and social care services relies on effective management and strong leadership. This module is designed for anyone who would like to learn more about management and leadership in health and social care, as well as for existing and aspiring managers. It will help you develop the necessary knowledge and analytical skills, as well as providing an overview of the organisational, legal, and policy contexts within which managers operate, focusing on the challenges and opportunities faced in this sector. Throughout the module you apply learning to real-life examples, developing evidence-based strategies for good outcomes for service users.

What you will study

Following an online learning guide, you will work with a combination of print, online resources and audio-visual materials designed to get you thinking and to build your understanding and skills. You will be encouraged and supported to bring together core themes and ideas in a way that is relevant to you and your specific interests. You will be taught quickly and simply how to use ICT to access, analyse and communicate current issues, as well as going online to communicate with other students.

The module is structured around key aspects of leading and managing in health and social care, with four main blocks of study:

Block 1 Approaching leadership and management

You will begin by exploring what it means to be a leader or a manager in health and social care today, examining how the two roles differ yet complement each other, and sometimes overlap. You will be encouraged to reflect on your own skills and experience and what you wish to gain from studying the module.

Block 2 Managing relationships

In this block you explore two constants at the heart of any management role – change and human relationships. You explore how theoretical understanding can support practical attempts to work through complex situations of change with a variety of people, and reflect on how your own approaches to management or leadership influence the relationships you have with others.

Block 3 Creating the caring environment

In Block 3 you move from focusing on relationships between people, to relationships between people and their surrounding environments. Drawing on real-life examples you consider the impact of organisational, environmental and political contexts and concerns for managers in health and social care.

Block 4 Leading for ethical and quality care

Having considered the practical context within which managers and leaders operate, in the final block you are encouraged to question the ethical requirements of good leadership and management in care. You reflect on personal values and ethical practice, legislative requirements and the value of learning from experience and listening to others.

Each week of work will involve core questions, case study materials, key theoretical concepts and activities designed to apply, critique and review the topic. To ensure that your learning can be applied to real-life contexts, two key recurring devices are used throughout the module:

The 6 managers – These six managers, from frontline roles across health and social care in the UK, are real people in real roles. By sharing their experiences through short videos, they help to bring alive the conceptual ideas studied in the module and help you to explore how they might play out in real-life situations.

A toolkit for management and leadership – You will be introduced to a range of tools and skills which can be applied in your own work environment. By the end of the module you will have built up a personal ‘toolkit’ for management and leadership which you take away with you for future use.

Entry requirements

You are not required to have done any study in this area before, but bear in mind that this is an OU level 3 module. OU level 3 module build on study skills and subject knowledge acquired from studies at OU 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.

Our OU level 1 module An introduction to health and social care (K101) and OU level 2 module Critical issues in health and wellbeing  (K219) would be ideal preparation. The ICT skills developed in these modules would be an asset, however this OU level 3 module does provide the opportunity to quickly develop the necessary skills if you do not already have them.

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

What's included

One core book accompanies the learning journey – ‘Leading, Managing, Caring: understanding leadership and management in health and social care’. The remaining study materials are delivered online, including up-to-date audio-visual case study materials, as well as other published research which is accessible through the University library’s online resources. 

The audio-visual components of this module will be embedded within the learning guide. 

Computing requirements

A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

A desktop or laptop computer with either:

  • Windows 7 or higher
  • Mac OS X 10.7 or higher

The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).

Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material. They will also mark and comment on your written work, and you can ask them for advice and guidance. Part of your tuition is delivered online through online tutor group activities, so you will have access to your tutor through email and online discussion forums. Telephone communication may also be used. If you are new to the OU, you will find that your tutor is particularly concerned to help you with your study methods. 

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.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying K313 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

Leadership and management in health and social care (K313) starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that starts in October 2019, the last time it will start. We will replace it with a new module – Leading, managing, caring  (K318) – that will start for the first time in October 2020.

Course work includes:

5 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

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