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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. You will be introduced to a range of subject areas, including childhood and youth studies, social sciences, psychology, health, business, 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.

Choose to study this Access module if you:

  • want to gradually build up to university-level study
  • 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. To find out more, speak to one of our friendly advisers on +44 (0)1908 659253.  

What you will study

This multidisciplinary module provides an excellent introduction to a wide range of subject areas, including childhood and youth studies, social science, psychology, health, business and law.

The module is divided into three blocks:

Block 1: People

This block, which you will study in print, considers whether people can change. You will be introduced to some influential thinkers and debates around the topics of childhood development and early relationships, health and the extent to which we can choose to be healthy, how disability can shape what we can do, and how it can impact on activities like study. Using case studies of Open University students who have physical disabilities and mental health conditions, you will focus on research methods and consider how they can convey information. You'll also look at responsibility, from an age and a cognitive perspective. We consider when children become legally responsible and also when adults who experience cognitive decline though Alzheimer’s dementia for example, are no longer responsible.

Block 2: Work

Moving to online study, this block addresses the topic of work and what people do. The focus moves from the individual to consider how organisations work and their value to individuals and society. You will explore the impact of globalisation on consumers and the extent to which our choices relate to some of the negative aspects like child labour. The idea of work in a traditional sense is also explored as we consider how organisations and businesses operate and thrive. You’ll also think about how delegation and budgeting is used in your own life and take a look at the future of work.

Block 3: Societies

Continuing online, moving beyond the world of work to the world at large, this block explores whether we can all get along in society. You’ll begin by looking at how people operate in groups, and what the minimum requirements are for a group to form an identity and sense of belonging. You will be introduced to the theory of social identity as a way to explain some behaviours. You’ll also look at the law and how it enforces order in society, and consider how physical appearance, location and where you live can also influence the feeling of belonging. The block ends by looking at how people and societies can change, and what the future holds.

After each block there is an Options week, giving you the opportunity to learn 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 social sciences and 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 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.

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 People, work and society 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.

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.

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. 

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 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 February 2020 and October 2020. 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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