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Arts and languages Access module

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An Access module is a great place to start if you want a gentle introduction to Open University study. It can also help you to find out more about your interests and where you want your learning to take you.

With this Access module you'll explore the broad, but related, areas of arts, humanities and language. Each subject is introduced and explained at a comfortable pace to develop, or refresh, your knowledge of topics including history, art history, English literature and English language studies, and music. You'll also touch on areas of modern languages, classical studies, creative writing and religious studies. It's the perfect way to discover your interests, ease you back into the study habit and prepare for your chosen qualification.

Choose to study this Access module if you:

  • want to gradually build up to university-level study with the OU
  • would like learning materials prepared with new learners in mind 
  • need time to decide your future study plans while developing your study skills.

Study for free

If you are resident in England, Wales, Northern Ireland or Scotland, you may be eligible to study an access module for free. See Entry Requirements for more information.

What you will study

This multidisciplinary module is an ideal starting point if you have little or no previous knowledge of the arts, humanities and languages. It's perfect preparation for your study with The Open University as you'll develop both your subject knowledge and your study skills. It explores a range of subjects, including art history, English, English language studies, history, modern languages, and also touches on the areas of creative writing and religious studies.

The module is divided into three blocks.

Block 1 which you will study in print, begins by exploring how language is used to communicate. You will be introduced to language in various spoken and written forms – for example as a tool for learning or as cultural expression. You’ll then examine the theme of popular protest with an initial discussion of a First World War poem, Anthem for Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen. Next, you will study a diverse range of poetry with an emphasis on protest. 

Block 2 where you will move to online study, extends your study of language to consider popular culture and the language of protest. You’ll also start to think about the persuasive uses of language – seen in politics and the media for instance – and consider what impact dialect and pronunciation has on how meaning is produced, drawing on examples from hip-hop and song. You will then move on to focus on history, in particular, looking at the history of the demand for democracy (government by the people) in Britain from around 1815 through an examination of the Chartist movement. You will be introduced to a small number of the many debates surrounding the interpretation of Chartism and the relevance of the subject today. 

Block 3 which continues online, considers the relationship between art and popular protest. You’ll be introduced to the study of the visual arts by looking at a selection of works that have been nominated for the Turner Prize which will allow you to look at many different types of art and explore the techniques used by art historians and art critics when they analyse a work of art. You’ll then explore three case studies: a painting by Picasso; a display at St. Mungo’s Museum of Religious Life and Art in Glasgow; and the symbolism and language used in football banners. These case studies will give you the opportunity to build on what you have learnt so far and explore the relationship between popular protest and visual art from a wider range of academic disciplines, such as history, religious studies, linguistics and modern foreign language studies. 

After each block there is an Options week, giving you the opportunity to learn more about an area that interests you. You may also choose the option of catching up, or revisiting material that you missed or would like to engage with again. There are so many things to learn about in the Arts and Languages that we can’t possibly fit it all into one module, so this is your opportunity to choose an area that interests you most.

The module includes multimedia material and a website with further study materials and resources as well as online quizzes and interactive exercises to help test your understanding.

As you study this module you will build your confidence and develop your study skills, including:

  • reading and interpreting information
  • producing written communications
  • time management and organisational skills
  • problem solving.

You will also have the opportunity to gain skills such as working with audio and video material, using online forums and searching the internet for information. This experience will provide you with a gentle introduction to using a computer to support your study, and will equip you with the basic computing skills you will need for the next step in your studies.

Towards the end of the module you will have the opportunity to participate in activities which will help you to make decisions about your future study plans.

On successful completion of this module you will receive an Open University Access Module Certificate.

Entry requirements

No special knowledge or previous experience is required.

You can study our Arts and languages Access module on a standalone basis, or to prepare for your OU qualification. The module won’t count towards a future qualification, but we know that students who start with an Access module are more likely to succeed. It may mean that you will study for longer, but it’s well worth the investment. If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

The study materials have been prepared with the needs of new learners in mind, so it’s great if you’re a beginner or returning to study. You’ll use your general knowledge and interests to gradually build up to university-level study. This module will develop key study skills such as time management, note taking, reading for study purposes and reflection on your own learning.

This module is only available if you live in the UK, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, the Republic of Ireland, or if you have a British Forces Post Office (BFPO) address.
 

Study your Access module for free

The option to study an Access module for free is only available if you are resident in either England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, and you meet the criteria below.

England

In order to qualify you must:

  • be resident in England
  • be registered on a qualification
  • have a household income of less than £25,000 (or receive qualifying benefits)
  • have not completed one year or more on any full-time undergraduate programme at FHEQ Level 4 or above, or completed 30 credits or more of OU study

Scotland

In order to qualify you must:

  • be resident in Scotland
  • have a personal income below £25,000, including replacement living-cost benefits
  • have not completed one year or more on any full-time undergraduate programme at SCQF Level 7 or above, or completed 30 credits or more of OU study

Wales

In order to qualify you must:

  • be resident in Wales
  • be registered on a qualification
  • have a household income of less than £25,000 (or receive qualifying benefits)
  • have not completed one year or more on any full-time undergraduate programme at FHEQ Level 4/CQFW or above, or completed 30 credits or more of OU study

Northern Ireland

In order to qualify you must:

  • be resident in Northern Ireland
  • be registered on a qualification
  • have a household income of less than £25,000 (or receive qualifying benefits)
  • have not completed one year or more on any full-time undergraduate programme at FHEQ Level 4 or above, or completed 30 credits or more of OU study

Follow the online instructions as you register, or if you are unsure if you meet the criteria to study for free, you can contact one of our friendly advisers.

What's included

You'll have access to a module website, which includes:

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • course-specific module materials
  • audio and video content
  • assignment details and submission section

You'll also be provided with four printed module books, a study planner and assessment guide.

Digital copies (PDFs and web versions) of most study materials, and transcripts of the video and audio materials can be found on the website. A DVD is available on request if you cannot access the video and audio materials in any other way.

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 an up-to-date version of Windows or macOS.

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 keep in touch by a combination of telephone, written correspondence and, if you want, email. There are no face-to-face tutorials; all tutorials are conducted between you and your tutor. You may have the opportunity to experience a group tutorial and use online rooms later in the module. Your tutor will help you to plan your work and to think about the ideas explored in the module. Your tutor will also comment on and help you with your written work. At the end of the module you will discuss your progress with your tutor, and you will work together to review your learning.

Assessment

You do not have to sit an examination for this module. Assessment consists of short written assignments (TMAs) and online activities (iCMAs):

  • TMA stands for Tutor Marked Assignment. There are four TMAs for this module. Your tutor will give you constructive written feedback to develop your study skills and confidence, and a score. 
  • iCMA stands for Interactive Computer-Marked Assignment. There are five iCMAs for this module. Typically these are short, online, multiple choice quizzes. 

The study materials give you lots of support and practice, and detailed feedback from your tutor will help to hone your study skills and build your confidence. You’ll submit some of your assignments online through our eTMA system – the Assessment Guide gives full details.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying Y031 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Your next step

Register online via the module page, or contact us to discuss your study options with our team of advisers.

Future availability

Arts and languages starts twice a year – in February and October. In 2021, this module will also be available to study in May.

This page describes the module that will start in February 2021. We expect it to start for the last time in February 2025.

Course work includes:

4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
5 Interactive computer-marked assignments (iCMAs)
No examination
No residential school