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Diploma of Higher Education in Paramedic Sciences

This multi-disciplinary diploma is for staff working in a variety of paramedic support settings, such as emergency response units. Accredited by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), it combines distance with work-based learning – building on your existing experience to help you develop the knowledge, skills and competences that underpin effective practice. Learning is attuned to the NHS modernisation agenda, the Knowledge and Skills Framework and the HCPC’s standards of proficiency.  Responsibility for your learning is shared between your employer and The Open University. We provide study materials, tutorial support and assessment, while your employer manages the practice learning element of the course. The OU can also offer support in training staff identified as workplace mentors.

Key features of the course

  • Covers a wide range of topics around physical and mental health and illness
  • Explores issues such as legal frameworks, ethics and codes of practice
  • Relates learning directly to practice – the practice element takes place in your own workplace
  • Entitles you to apply to the HCPC for professional registration as a Paramedic.
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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 – 4 years
Time limit – 12 years
Study method
Distance learning
Course cost
See Fees & funding
Entry requirements
For details see Am I ready?


To register for this qualification, please refer to the entry requirements and contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service (online registration is not available).

Next start date Oct 2014 - Registration closes 18/09/2014
Credit transfer: apply by 14/08/2014

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Course details

This qualification has two stages, each comprising 120 credits. Stage 1 provides the underpinning knowledge and skills needed for more advanced study at Stage 2.

Stage 1 (120 credits)

You’ll begin with a work-based module designed to develop your understanding of the science underpinning your professional practice – investigating safe working and how to make evidence-based decisions. If you’re an experienced paramedic practitioner, an alternative module enables you to draw on your experience of emergency care. You’ll also investigate the scientific and social aspects of disease and disability, cardiovascular diseases, and cancers. 

Compulsory modules (120 credits)

  • Health sciences in practice (S110) or SZL110 (for experienced paramedics only)

    Explore the science underpinning your work; the IT and numerical skills needed to be a safe, confident practitioner; and the communications skills vital to healthcare.

  • Introducing health sciences: a case study approach (SDK125)

    Explore scientific and social aspects of disease and disability through issues like water and health; pain; alcohol; cancer screening; lung disease; trauma; and visual impairment.

  • Topics in health sciences (SK143)

    Explore the two medical conditions that present a major global health problem; cardiovascular disease and cancer. You’ll consider risk factors, methods of detection, treatment and prevention worldwide.

Stage 2 (120 credits)

Your work-based learning will cover legal and ethical issues in practice; quality assurance and audit; evidence-based practice and research methodology; biochemistry and enzymology; pharmacology; and pathophysiology. You’ll also study practical applications such as patient and wound assessment, trauma and advanced airway management, critical care transfer and clinical decision-making – and you’ll learn how to manage conflict. Finally, you’ll research and write up a project on a health topic of your choice, and study theory modules on human biology and mental health.

A nationally recognised qualification in its own right, the diploma of higher education is also equivalent to the first two thirds of an honours degree.

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.

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

Credit transfer

If you have already studied at university level, you may be able to count it towards your Open University qualification – reducing the number of modules you need to study. It’s not just study completed at a university that can be considered, you can transfer study from a wide range of professional qualifications as well. A full list of the qualifications and institutions we can consider for credit transfer can be found on our credit transfer website.

You should apply for credit transfer before you register, at least 4 weeks before the registration closing date. We will need to know what you studied, where and when and you will need to provide original evidence of your previous study. We will compare this against the learning outcomes for your chosen qualification and inform you of any award.

For more details of when you will need to apply by and to download an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.

On completion

On completion of this undergraduate course, you will be awarded the Diploma of Higher Education in Paramedic Sciences.


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.

Compare this course

Entry requirements

You must be employed in a paramedic science setting and be supported in your practice learning by your employer. 

For further information, employers and individuals are invited to visit the Health Sciences website or contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service.

Study skills for this qualification

The Diploma of Higher Education in Paramedic Sciences begins with the module Introduction to health sciences: a case study approach (SDK125) which builds a solid foundation for further study. Although it’s an introductory module, to get the best from it you’ll need basic numeracy skills and the ability to read and write to a good standard of English. You can use our online diagnostic tool Are you ready for science study? to help you 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.

Help! I'm not ready

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:

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.

The module is divided into three blocks:

Block 1: Life

Block 1 starts with biology and ecological ideas and uses varied examples to describe interrelationships between plants, animals and the wider environment while developing your study skills. You will learn about the unique role of humans, and explore how we have changed the environment to suit our needs through farming or conservation. You’ll consider how we can tell what effect current lifestyles have on the environment by introducing the ecological footprint model and look at sustainable living and how we can conserve declining species and habitats. This block also introduces key mathematical ideas and you will learn techniques to help you tackle everyday mathematical problems.  

Block 2: Water

Water is essential for life and fundamental to what we do. In Block 2 you’ll investigate how water has shaped our planet and our lives. You will learn and develop skills that will aid your understanding and use of a variety of tools used in science. You will also access the Open University Library and the wide variety of materials that this can offer. You will investigate the presence of water in potatoes and how water is required for yeast to respire in some home experiments, and through these home experiments, learn about how we can use experimental data to develop and refine hypotheses. Underpinning this is some essential mathematics and further computing skills to develop your study of science, technology and mathematics.

Block 3: Home

Block 3 introduces you to the subjects of design, engineering and computing around the central concept of home. You will find out how homes are designed, and can be designed better, through the use of engineering and computing. Block 3 is a practical block where you will complete a number of design, engineering, and computing activities and experiments. You’ll also be introduced to an online design studio where you will keep a portfolio of the work you do. You’ll also continue to learn mathematics and IT skills to support your developing knowledge of some computing and engineering concepts.

The module includes a DVD and website which include 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 IT 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.

Course work includes:

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
6 Interactive computer-marked assignments (iCMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

Your next step

Call our Student Registration & Enquiry Service on +44 (0)1908 659253. 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.

The fee information provided here is valid for courses starting before 31 July 2015. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation.

  • Fees are paid on a module-by-module basis – you won't have to pay for the whole of your qualification upfront.
  • If like most OU students studying part time, you study an average of 60 credits a year – you’ll study for six years to complete a degree. Our typical fee for 60 credits is £2,632.
  • Our current fee is £5,264 – 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 £10,528 based on our current fees.

Additional costs

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.

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 than you might think. Options include 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.

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

  • Only currently serving members of the British armed forces, who are temporarily and unavoidably working abroad and using BFPO addresses, are eligible to pay UK course fees for the total time spent outside the UK. Other students who are able to use BFPO addresses need to contact the Student Registration and Enquiry Service (SRS) Pricing Area Team on +44 (0)845 300 6090 for UK fee eligibility to be assessed.

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

The Diploma of Higher Education in Paramedic Sciences was developed to meet the needs of staff already employed as paramedic support workers in a healthcare setting. It values and builds on your existing experience, and will benefit both you and your workplace by enhancing your skills base. It will be especially valuable if you feel that your professionalism would be enhanced by a more thorough knowledge of the science underpinning your practice. On successful completion of the qualification, you’ll be eligible to apply to the HCPC for professional registration as a paramedic.

Career relevance

As well as helping you to be more skilled and knowledgeable in your existing workplace, this diploma course is also relevant to people seeking a different role within or outside of the NHS. These include emergency services leadership and management positions, specialist work in rapid-response or air ambulance units, and careers in other uniformed services such as the armed forces, police and fire services.


This Diploma of Higher Education in Paramedic Sciences is accredited by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). On successful completion of the qualification, you’ll be eligible to apply to the HCPC for professional registration as a Paramedic.

Other careers

People with science qualifications are well placed to enter both scientific and non-scientific jobs. The logical, reasoned approach needed for science study is relevant to a wide range of financial, business and public sector employment.

In addition to improving your career prospects, studying with the OU is an enriching experience that broadens your horizons, develops your knowledge, builds your confidence and enhances your life skills. 


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, we’ve put together a list of relevant job titles as a starting point (note that some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree):

  • adult nurse
  • emergency planning/management officer
  • firefighter
  • health promotion specialist
  • health visitor
  • hospital doctor
  • mental health nurse
  • midwife
  • paramedic 
  • paediatric nurse
  • prison officer
  • ambulance care assistant
  • emergency services team leader
  • operational manager
  • paramedic science lecturer

Want to see more jobs? Use the career explorer for job ideas from the National Careers Service, PlanIT Plus in Scotland and Prospects across all nations. You can also visit GradIreland for the Republic of Ireland.


Study plan - Overview