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Foundation Degree in Engineering

If you’re working in engineering-related employment at a technical level and would like to boost your career, this qualification can combine academic skills with the needs of your workplace. This course will build on your existing skills and experience to support your professional development plans. It applies the study of engineering fundamentals like design, energy, electronics, manufacturing, materials, mechanics and structural analysis, to the solution of real-life problems. It will also develop your mathematical skills , which are key to successfully studying engineering.

The same programme of study is available as the Diploma of Higher Education in Engineering (W11), which will be of particular interest to students living and working in Scotland.

Key features of the course

  • Builds on your existing skills and experience to support your professional development plans
  • Applies the study of engineering fundamentals to the solution of real-life problems
  • Develops your skills in mathematics, which is key to the successful study of engineering
  • Provides a solid foundation for further study, with the option to top-up to an honours degree

A nationally recognised qualification in its own right, this foundation degree is also equivalent to the first two-thirds of an honours degree – see the Top-up Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (Q78) for more information.

Course Summary

+Shortlist Course

Foundation Degree

Foundation Degree

  • Widely recognised qualification.
  • Enhance your professional and technical knowledge and skills.
  • Equivalent to the first two thirds of an honours degree.
  • Use it to support your current role or progress your career.
  • Combine work-based learning with academic study – you need to be employed or volunteering in a relevant work setting.
  • Top up to an honours degree in just two years.

We offer most of our foundation degrees as diplomas of higher education for students living or working in Scotland.

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 – 4–6 years
Full time – 3 years (Stage 1 can be studied only part time; Stage 2 can be studied full time.)
Time limit – 9 years
Study method
Distance learning

Course details

This foundation degree has two stages, each comprising 120 credits.

  • In Stage 1 you’ll study four 30-credit core engineering modules – the last of which focuses on your work in engineering.
  • Next, in Stage 2, you’ll study two further 30-credit core engineering modules, followed by a 30-credit optional module and a final work-related module.

Optional Access module – visit Entry requirements to find out about starting this course with a preparatory Access module.

Stage 1 (120 credits)

You’ll begin by studying the extraordinary breadth of contemporary engineering, exploring design, materials, mechanics and engineering practice, including case studies. Essential mathematics teaching is incorporated and applied to engineering problems throughout. You’ll complete Stage 1 with a work-related module which gives you a chance to focus on the sector in which you work by looking at aspects of how your organisation functions. You’ll also take the first steps to gaining professional engineering status by developing a personal development plan.

Stage 2 (120 credits)

At Stage 2 you’ll deepen your understanding of how engineers find solutions for technical problems, with two 30-credit core engineering modules. You’ll also choose a 30-credit module from options in energy and sustainability; electronics; design for engineers; environmental management; mathematical methods; or thermo and fluid mechanics. You’ll complete Stage 2 with another 30-credit work-related module, in which you’ll study project management and execution, looking at the processes of change and strategies for effectively managing change.
You'll study both of the following:
Core engineering A (T271)30
Core engineering B (T272)30
You'll choose one from:
Design for engineers (T218)30
Electronics: sensing, logic and actuation (T212)30
Energy and sustainability (T213)30
Environmental management 1 (T219)30
Mathematical methods (MST224)30
Mechanical engineering: heat and flow (T229) – planned for October 202030
You'll study the following:
Change, strategy and projects at work (T227)30

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 20 March 2019.


We make all our qualifications as accessible as possible and have a comprehensive range of services to support all our students. The Foundation Degree in Engineering 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 and remote experiments
  • face-to-face tutorials/day schools/workshops and/or online tutorials
  • using mathematical and scientific expressions, notations and associated techniques
  • working in a group with other students
  • using and producing diagrams or screenshots
  • practical work
  • working with specialist reading material
  • finding external/third party material online
  • using specialist software (for example the Open Engineering Studio, EduPack, ANSYS)
  • continuous and end-of-module assessment in the form of essays, short answer questions, and in some cases an examination
  • using feedback: continuous assessment involves receiving detailed feedback on your work from your tutor and using this feedback to improve your performance
  • engagement with learning and assessment within a pre-determined schedule or timetable – time management will be needed during your studies and the University will help you to develop these skills throughout your degree

For more detailed information, see the Accessibility Statements on individual module descriptions. If you feel you may need additional support, visit Disability support to find more about what we offer. 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

Credit transfer

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.

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

On completion of this undergraduate course, we'll award you the Foundation Degree in Engineering.


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. 

Entry requirements

There are no formal entry requirements, but you must be in engineering-related employment.

You’ll also need some knowledge of mathematics, an interest in technology, and the ability to read and write to a good standard of English. Check you have the necessary skills at

This diagnostic will work best on your desktop. Some features are not compatible with mobile/tablet devices.

How much time do I need?

  • Most of our students study part time, completing 60 credits a year.
  • This will usually mean studying for 16–18 hours a week.

Find out if you have enough time to study with our time planner

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:

Science, technology and maths Access module

What you will study

This 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.

In this section:
How much will it cost?
Ways to pay for your qualification and other support

How much will it cost in England?

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 £3,012*.
  • Our current fee for 120 credits – which is equivalent to a year's full-time study – is £6,024*.
  • At current prices, the total cost of your qualification would be £12,048*.
  • .

*The fee information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2020. 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 computer, 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 start studying.

Skills for career development

There are many occupations in which engineering knowledge and skills are highly valued, and often essential. This foundation degree will help you develop and demonstrate a sound grasp of engineering and mathematical principles, the ability to apply them, and an awareness of surrounding issues. It includes two work-related modules which guide you through activities and projects closely linked to your workplace. There’s a strong focus on personal development planning, and you’ll be well prepared for further study should you wish to progress to an honours degree.

Career relevance

Whatever field of engineering you currently work in, this course will enhance your career prospects. Qualified engineers are much in demand for their rigorous approach to problem solving and high level of numeracy and opportunities also exist in related areas such as research, design and development, commissioning, project management, technical sales and marketing, technical journalism and patent work.

Other careers

This qualification will also help you develop a wide range of transferable skills, including information handling and numeracy, IT and communication, analysing and solving problems, team working, planning and organising. These skills open up a wide range of other career opportunities – for example in management or finance – as well as in engineering itself.

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 website are available to see at any time, 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):

  • mechanical engineer
  • electronic engineer
  • structural engineer
  • production engineer
  • biomedical engineer
  • environmental engineer
  • materials engineer
  • other roles within engineering management
  • manufacturing engineer

Register for this course

Start dates
Credit transfer: apply by 13/02/2020

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