This qualification has two stages, each comprising 120 credits.
- During Stage 1 you will study two modules: an introduction to health and social care, and a work-based module to enhance your healthcare practice.
- Next, in Stage 2, you’ll study another work-based module and complete your diploma with up to two modules selected from a list of options.
Optional Access module – visit Entry requirements to find out about starting this course with a preparatory Access module.
You’ll be introduced to the study of health and social care, together with underpinning knowledge, understanding and skills. You’ll consider care in a variety of settings, alongside work-based study of the factors influencing health in different service user groups. There is a strong focus on person-centred, compassionate care and the development of practice-based skills to meet patient/client needs.
At Stage 2, you’ll apply research, policy and practice to your own work context – exploring the diversity and complexity of people’s lives and their experience of healthcare within a work-based module. You’ll also choose optional module(s) from topics such as health and wellbeing, mental health, children and young people, end-of-life care, long-term conditions, human biology and sports science.
We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 21 March 2018.
We make all our qualifications as accessible as possible and have a comprehensive range of services to support all our students. The Diploma of Higher Education in Healthcare Practice uses a variety of study materials and has the following elements:
- studying a mixture of printed and online material – online learning resources may include websites, audio/video media clips, and interactive activities such as online quizzes
- using mathematical and biological expressions, notations and associated techniques
- working in a group with other students
- using and/or producing diagrams and/or screenshots
- undertaking practical work (patient/client care)
- finding external/third party material online.
For more detailed information, see the Accessibility Statements on individual module descriptions. If you feel you may need additional support with any of the elements above, visit our Disability support website to find more about what we offer. Please contact us as soon as possible to discuss your individual requirements, so we can put arrangements in place before you start.
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
If you have already studied at university level, you may be able to count it towards your Open University qualification – which could save you time and money by reducing the number of modules you need to study. At the OU we call this credit transfer.
It’s not just university study that can be considered, you can also transfer study from a wide range of professional or vocational qualifications such as HNCs and HNDs.
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 evidence of your previous study.
For more details of when you will need to apply by and to download an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.
On completion of this undergraduate course, we'll award you the Diploma of Higher Education in Healthcare Practice.
As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the qualification-specific regulations below and the academic regulations that are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.
There are no academic entry requirements for this course. However, you must have the support of your employer for the two work-based modules Enhancing your healthcare practice (K117) and Extending your contribution to healthcare practice (K236) and be employed as healthcare support worker/healthcare assistant in a healthcare setting.
It is also a requirement that you:
- remain in employment while studying towards this qualification
- work in a healthcare setting for a minimum of two days per week
- are involved in the direct delivery of care or providing interventions for patients/service users
- provide confirmation of your employer’s support for your studies
- have a workplace supervisor qualified in the same area of practice to support and assess your work-based learning
- have access to a computer and the internet.
Please note that you cannot apply online for this qualification – for more information about how to register, employers and individuals should contact us.
How much time do I need?
- Most of our students study flexibly, completing 60-120 credits a year
- Depending on the agreement with your employer you can complete this qualification in 2-4 years.
Counting previous study
You could save time and money by reducing the number of modules you need to study towards this qualification, if you have:
- already studied at university level (even if you didn't finish your studies)
- other professional or vocational qualifications such as HNCs and HNDs
Find out more about credit transfer
Preparing for study with an Access module
If your study skills are a bit rusty or you want to try out Open University study before committing yourself, don’t worry! The OU offers Access modules designed to introduce the subject area, build your confidence and prepare you for further study, and you may be eligible to study an Access module for free! You'll get:
- a personal tutor providing regular feedback with one to one telephone tutorials
- support from a dedicated team throughout your study
- detailed written feedback.
For this qualification we recommend:
People, work and society Access module
Skills for career development
Delivering quality care requires teamwork and people management skills. Studying this qualification will encourage you to work in your multi-professional team to improve the patient/service user experience. You will also develop valuable transferable skills in communication literacy, IT skills, information retrieval, numeracy, time management, organisational skills, analysing information and problem solving – and you’ll be well prepared for further study (such as an honours degree course, or a professional qualification in your particular field of practice).
This diploma is designed to promote the development of healthcare career pathways and to prepare healthcare support workers/healthcare assistants for the role of assistant/associate practitioner. Although it provides no guarantee of promotion, it is particularly relevant for staff working in healthcare support roles who wish to gain a qualification that helps them to deliver high quality, safe and compassionate care. It is also valuable for those already working in the role of assistant/associate practitioner who wish to gain a qualification to underpin their practice.
On completion of this qualification, you may wish to pursue further study opportunities leading to, for example, an honours degree in health and social care or, possibly, as a registered practitioner in your respective field of practice.
Successful completion of Diploma of Higher Education in Healthcare Practice also allows access to Stage 2 of the pre-registration nursing programme, subject to successful selection and meeting the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s (NMC) entry requirements.
The wide range of transferable skills you’ll develop during your studies will be applicable to many roles outside health and social care.
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. This includes 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. Some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience):
- Adult nurse
- Mental health nurse
- Social worker
- Health promotion specialist
- Child protection officer
- Youth worker
- Community development worker
- Care home manager
- Health services manager
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.