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Certificate of Higher Education Open

If you’re keen to try university study but want to keep your options open, this flexible certificate is the ideal starting point. It’s part of our Open qualifications programme - the most flexible programme in the UK because you can study any subjects you like, in any combination. This means you can build a qualification that’s unique to you.

You don’t need to decide now about the whole qualification, the only decision you need to make before you register is which subject to study first.

Key features of the course

  • Design your own qualification to suit your personal and professional needs, interests and aspirations
  • Easily change direction if your study interests change
  • Gain knowledge and skills in a wide range of subjects
  • Enhance your employability.

A nationally recognised qualification in its own right, the certificate of higher education is also equivalent to the first third of our BA/BSc (Honours) Open (QD) degree.

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Course code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
How long it takes
Part time – 2 years
Full time – 1 year
Time limit – 7 years
Study method
Distance learning
Course cost
See Fees & funding
Entry requirements

Are you ready for study?
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Start dates

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Course details

This certificate of higher education comprises 120 credits (equivalent to one year's full-time university study).

If you have little or no knowledge or experience of studying, you may prefer to start your studies with an Access module as an additional preparatory stage.

Stage 1 (120 credits)

You’ll start with one of our ‘key introductory modules’, specially selected to develop the conceptual understanding and study skills you’ll need as you work through your qualification. You then have a free choice from a wide range of OU level 1 modules. Many students focus broadly on one discipline, such as science or the humanities – but there’s nothing to stop you studying modules from entirely different subject areas. Whatever your choice, it will stretch your mind, fire your imagination and enhance your employability.

Recommended starting points (60 credits)

A full list of over 40 key introductory modules is available when you register, but we recommend that you start your course with one of the following:

Arts and Humanities

  • The arts past and present (AA100)

    Study a broad range of arts subject areas (art history, classical studies, English, history, music, philosophy and religious studies) across multiple cultures and historical periods in this university-level introduction.

Business and Management

Computing and IT

  • My digital life (TU100)

    My digital life takes you on a journey from the origins of information technology through to the familiar computers of today, and on to tomorrow’s radical technologies.


Education, Childhood and Youth


  • Engineering the future (T174)

    This module offers an introduction to what engineering is and how it is practised in modern society, and looks at developments that will shape the future.

Environment and Development

Health and Social Care

Health and Wellbeing


  • Bon départ: beginners' French (L192)

    Learn to speak and understand French in a wide range of practical situations, and explore French life and culture with this carefully structured beginners’ module.

  • Rundblick: beginners' German (L193)

    Learn to speak and understand German in a wide range of practical situations, and explore life in German-speaking communities with this carefully structured beginners’ module.

  • Portales: beginners' Spanish (L194)

    Learn to speak and understand Spanish in various practical situations, and get a real feel for Hispanic cultures with this carefully structured beginners’ module.


  • An introduction to law (W101)

    This module examines the role and function of a legal system by considering why laws develop, how laws are created, interpreted and applied, and what role law plays in regulating and administering justice within a society. 

Mathematics and Statistics

  • Discovering mathematics (MU123)

    Introduces and helps integrate key ideas from statistics, algebra, geometry and trigonometry into your everyday thinking to build your confidence in learning and using mathematics.

  • Essential mathematics 1 (MST124)

    This introductory university-level mathematics module covers key topics including calculus, vectors, matrices, sequences and functions, and assumes you are confident with the underpinning algebraic ideas.

  • Introducing statistics (M140)

    Learn statistical tools and quantitative methods, covering topics such as summarising data; examining relationships; randomness and sampling distributions; probability; testing hypotheses; and estimation.

Psychology and Counselling


  • Exploring science (S104)

    Develop key scientific skills and explore a range of fascinating concepts and topics, including genetics, drugs, global warming, atoms, and the origin of the Universe.

  • Science and health: an evidence-based approach (SDK100)

    This module introduces the health sciences by exploring eight globally important health topics, ranging from nutrition and infectious diseases to pain and breast cancer screening.

Social Sciences

  • Introducing the social sciences (DD102)

    This module is an ideal introduction to the social sciences – psychology, social policy and criminology, geography and environment, politics and international studies, economics and sociology.

Completing Stage 1 (60 credits)

Choose another 60 credits from the list above or from a wide range of OU level 1 modules. A full list of over 60 OU level 1 modules is available when you register and includes the following:

The modules quoted in this description are currently available for study. However, as we review the curriculum on a regular basis, the exact selection may change over time. Note also that some modules are required to be studied in sequence.

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; e-learning resources like podcasts, interactive media and online materials; tutorial groups and community forums.

Read the detailed learning outcomes here

On completion

On completion of this undergraduate course, you will be awarded the Certificate of Higher Education Open.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the following regulations:

These regulations are also available on our Essential Documents website.

Entry requirements

The only decision you need to make when you register is what to study first.

Study skills for this qualification

This certificate begins with one of a range of key introductory modules, which are all designed to build a solid foundation for further study. Although they’re introductory modules, having some basic skills before you begin can help you get the best from your studies. For example, if you choose one of our science, maths or engineering modules you might want to check if your IT and mathematical skills are up to scratch. For some subject areas, we offer online diagnostic tools to help you to decide if you’re ready, or if you could do with some extra preparation:

General study skills

Anyone can study with The Open University, but if it's a while since you did any academic work it's worth checking that your time management, computing and English skills are up to speed. Visit Can I do it? to find out more.

How much time do I need?

  • Most of our students study part time completing 60 credits a year.
  • This will normally mean studying for 16–18 hours a week.
Read about how some of our students have fitted OU study into their lives, then find out if you have enough time to study by completing our time planner.

Help! I'm not sure I'm ready!

Study for free

If your study skills are a bit rusty or you want to try out Open University study before committing yourself, don’t worry! You can get started with an Access module – fascinating courses designed to introduce subject areas, build your confidence and prepare you for further study.

For this qualification, we recommend choosing one of the following:

Arts and languages Access module

What you will study

This fascinating, multidisciplinary module is an ideal starting point if you have little or no previous knowledge of the arts and languages, and would like to 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.

View full details of Arts and languages Access module

People, work and society Access module

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 children and young people, health, law, management, psychology and social sciences.

View full details of People, work and society Access module

Science, technology and maths Access module

What you will study

This fascinating, multidisciplinary module is an ideal starting point if you have little or no previous knowledge of the sciences, technology and mathematics, and would like to develop both your subject knowledge and your study skills. The subjects included are science, engineering and design, environment, mathematics, and computing and IT.

View full details of Science, technology and maths Access module

Your next step

Call us on +44 (0)1908 659253 or book 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.

How much will it cost?

We believe cost shouldn’t be a barrier to achieving your potential. That’s why we work hard to keep the cost of study as low as possible and have a wide range of flexible ways to pay to help spread, or even reduce, the cost.

  • Fees are paid on a module-by-module basis – you won't have to pay for the whole of your qualification up front.
  • A qualification comprises a series of modules, each with an individual fee. Added together, they give you the total cost.
  • If (like most OU students) you study part time at a rate of 60 credits a year, you'll take six years to complete an honours degree. Our current fee for 60 credits is £2,700*.
  • Our current fee is £5,400* – based on 120 credits of study – which is equivalent to a year's full-time study.
  • The total cost of your chosen qualification starts from £5,400* based on our current fees.
  • This qualification includes modules with a higher than typical cost. This will increase the overall cost of the qualification quoted. Please call us for further information.
  • This qualification includes modules with a higher than typical cost. If you choose to study one of these modules the overall cost of the qualification may increase. Please call us for further information.

*The fee information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2016. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees.

Additional costs

Study costs

There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a laptop, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

If you're on a low income you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after you register.

Ways to pay for your qualification and other support

We know there’s a lot to think about when choosing to study, not least how you can pay. That’s why we offer a wide range of flexible payment and funding options to help make study more affordable. Options include Part-Time Tuition Fee Loans (also known as student loans), monthly payment plans and employer sponsorship. 

We’re confident we can help you find an option that’s right for you.

Just answer these simple questions to find out more about the options available to you for courses starting before 31 July 2016.

How many credits are you planning to study per year? You will need [xxx] credits to complete this qualification

Part time study

Full time study

Do you already hold a degree?

Are you employed?

British Forces

  • If you have a BFPO address, you are only eligible for UK course fees if you are a currently serving member of the British armed forces, and you're temporarily and unavoidably working abroad. Other students using BFPO addresses should contact us on +44 (0)300 303 5303 for UK fee eligibility to be assessed.
* The fee and funding information provided here is valid for courses starting before 31 July 2016. Fees normally increase in line with inflation and the University’s strategic approach to fees.

An OU qualification will always help you stand out from the crowd, now and in the future – whether you’re just starting out, developing your career, or changing direction entirely.

Skills for career development

What makes Open qualification students stand out is the rich view of the world they develop, the diversity of perspectives they encounter and the breadth of skills they bring to the workplace from having experienced a variety of disciplines.

Whatever your choice of modules, the Certificate of Higher Education Open (T09) will help you develop key transferable skills including:

  • adaptability and flexibility
  • problem solving
  • communication and literacy
  • numeracy
  • information technology (IT).

It will also say a lot about your personal qualities – that you’re prepared to take on a challenge and see it through to the end, and that you can prioritise tasks and manage your time. These are exactly the kind of qualities that employers are looking for.

Career relevance

The flexibility of our Open qualifications makes them relevant to a wide range of careers and industries – many of which do not require qualifications to be subject-specific. This Certificate can help you to develop in your existing employment, or be the first step towards a whole new career. Its flexibility particularly suits people with multi-faceted work roles; and anyone needing to develop their skills, knowledge and understanding in their current job or future career path.

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 – including online forums, website, interview simulation, vacancy service as well as the option to email or speak to a careers adviser. Some areas of the careers service website are available for you to see now, 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, visit the graduate careers website Prospects for hundreds of job ideas.

Study plan - Overview