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People, work and society Access module

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Are you new to higher education study or returning after a break? This Access module – designed to develop the key skills required for successful university study – is an ideal starting point. You may even be able to study for free. Covering three areas of focus: People, Work and Society, this multidisciplinary module explores a range of subject areas, including childhood and youth studies; social sciences; psychology; health; management; and law. You will develop core academic skills such as reading, academic writing and referencing. As part of your study you will learn to navigate an innovative and interactive module website; the perfect way to gain the study skills you’ll need to succeed in the next step in your studies.

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.

What you will study

This is a multidisciplinary module that allows you to develop your subject knowledge and your general study skills. It provides an excellent introduction to a wide range of subject areas, including childhood and youth studies, social science, psychology, health, management and law.

The module is divided into three blocks:

Block 1: People

This block focuses on people over the lifespan, from a range of perspectives such as how fixed we are at birth and what potential we have to change. You’ll learn about stage theories of development, developmental trajectories and attachment styles. The influence of childhood on adolescence and through to adulthood is discussed, and the way in which these are measured is explained.

The idea that people are individuals that exist in a particular time and space is explored from the perspective of individual differences, where biology and health are used to explain differences, and from a social perspective where societal expectations can impact on those who may not fit into a normative category. These perspectives include people with disabilities, deviant behaviours, and people with different perceptions of the world.

The rights and responsibilities of individuals are addressed from a legal perspective, and in terms of the impact on the individual when we consider how society can protect those for whom differences may present issues. The block ends with the implications of an aging society using the example of dementia.

Block 2: Work

Our study of people moves into the workplace as we focus on the relationship between work, money and our status as consumers and creators of products and services. We pick up on the ideas of individual difference and change as we focus on location and life choices, and the way that those can impact on our earning potential. We use examples of child labour and sweatshops as we begin to focus on a global world with complex trade connections, where supply and demand reinforce what is sold and on what terms.

We also look at the more traditional western ideas of an office workplace, and consider how these operate, how people get to certain positions within an organisation, and how organisations function, including rights in the workplace, teamwork and organisational flows.

The block concludes with a discussion about the financial rewards of work from the perspective of organisations, employees and consumers and the relationship that work and money have with happiness.

Block 3: Societies

As society encompasses both people and work, you’ll look at how the whole can be greater than the sum of parts and yet why we don’t all get along. Beginning with social identity theory, the idea that people form groups based on minimal categorical differences, you’ll explore some of the foundations of prejudice. This is also taken from a political perspective to see how society is ordered and how these rules can change depending on location and context.

You’ll also consider the unwritten rules that order our lives, and the cultural pressures such as gender conformity, body image, and mental health conditions that shape how society includes some and excludes others. Migration, immigration and the implications of changing borders are discussed in the context of human geography, and what that means to social identity is explored through the example of Brexit.

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

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 note taking
  • evaluating evidence and interpreting information
  • academic skills including writing, referencing and using evidence to support claims
  • time management and organisational skills

You will also have the opportunity to gain skills such as working with audio and visual 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.

Please note that you will need access to the internet and a computer to study and pass this module. You will need to use a computer early on in the module but not straight away, so if you don’t currently have one you’ve got time to make arrangements. You can use your own computer or one at a library or drop-in centre.

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

Entry requirements

If you’re a beginner or returning to study, this module is an ideal starting point for a qualification in childhood and youth studies, social science, psychology, health, management and law. We will help you to develop your study skills and become a confident learner.

You can study People, work and society Access module as an additional preparatory stage of your chosen qualification – or on a standalone basis – but whichever option you chose, you will receive all the preparation you need to be a successful university student.

The study materials have been prepared with the needs of new learners in mind. No special knowledge or previous experience of studying is required. This module enables you to use your general knowledge and interests, and gradually build up to university-level study. You will develop key study skills such as time management, note taking, reading for study purposes and reflection on your own learning.

If you want to register for an Access module or want to know more about study with The Open University you can talk to one of our advisers by calling us on +44 (0)1908 659253 or request a call back.

What's included

Module books, DVD and a website where you can access the online resources.

Digital copies (PDFs and web versions) of most study materials, and transcripts of the DVD can be found on the website. Transcripts are also available on the DVD itself if it is accessed through a computer.

You will need

You will require access to equipment that plays DVDs, a phone and the use of a computer with internet access. You don’t need to rush out and buy a computer as you could use one at a library or drop-in centre.

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
  • macOS 10.7 or higher

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

To participate in our online-discussion area you will need both a microphone and speakers/headphones. 

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 on a one-to-one basis between you and your tutor. You may have an 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.


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 assignment booklet 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 Y032 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

Call us on +44 (0)1908 659253 or request a call back. Our friendly team of advisers will discuss your study options with you, and help you decide on the best starting point for you. Or come and meet us at an event near you.

Future availability

People, work and society starts twice a year – in February and October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2018 and February 2019. We expect it to start for the last time in February 2021.

Course work includes:

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

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