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Advance your independent learning

A flexible personalised postgraduate module that will allow you to explore in depth a topic of your choice.

Bring a problem or question you want to investigate - maybe from your professional context, or an area of previous study or a personal interest that you want to learn more about. With the help of your tutor and the resources available, you’ll be shown how to conduct a thorough investigation, enabling you to construct a rigorously researched personal answer.


This is an optional module in our:

Excluded combinations

Sometimes you will not be able to count a module towards a qualification if you have already taken another module with similar content. To check any excluded combinations relating to this module, visit our excluded combination finder or check with an adviser before registering.


Module 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.
Study level
Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU postgraduate modules correspond to these frameworks.
OU Postgraduate
Study method
Distance learning
Find out more in Why the OU?
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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What you will study

This module follows an innovative, flexible design to allow you to explore in depth a topic of your choice. You might want to focus on a problem from your practice or professional context, or simply decide to deepen your understanding about an issue that interests you. This could be from any subject area and might require you to venture into other disciplines, allowing you to make connections and expand your field of knowledge.

Your tutor will support you in defining your question or problem, and in planning what resources you need to access to understand it better. You will develop digital and academic literacy (searching for and evaluating information, being part of online communities), and critical, analytical and reflective skills. You will practice communicating your ideas in different formats and to different audiences, and learn how to feed back constructively and use peer feedback to advance your thinking.

Through a series of assessed tasks you will plan your learning and identify relevant resources to gain a better awareness of your chosen topic. You will share your interpretations with your tutor and fellow students through assessed and peer reviewed tasks that will help you refine your understanding and begin to articulate your personal answer to your initial question. And besides the freedom to choose what you want to study, you will also be able to decide what you will be producing for your final assessment. This could be a report for your employer, an article for publication, an information video, a series of talks, a children’s book, a training programme – you just need to agree this with your tutor. You will also submit a reflection on how you have researched your topic and produced your final assessment piece, and this will help you consolidate your understanding and evidence your learning journey.

You will learn

This module will help you develop the skills needed to conduct a rigorous investigation. It will show you how to engage critically with the information available and how to produce an original and individual answer that addresses your chosen question or problem.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Your tutor will help you plan your work and think about the ideas explored in the module. Your tutor will also comment on and support you with your assessment tasks. There will be one-to-one tutorials with your tutor and group tutorials with others, as well as opportunities to collaborate with fellow students through forum discussions and peer review activities.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

Course work includes

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

Future availability

Advance your independent learning starts once a year – in October.

This page describes the module that will start in October 2021. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2027.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

    Entry requirements

    You must have a first degree and be ready to pursue postgraduate study, however, if you have other study or experience that you believe equips you to take this module you can still apply, but you'll need to supply evidence of your study or experience. Your application will then be referred to the Programme Admissions Team.

    This module is suitable both as an introduction to postgraduate study, or later on in your postgraduate studies, and can be a valuable opportunity to be supported whilst conducting a highly personalised investigation.

    If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

    Preparatory work

    Start thinking about the problem or question you want to investigate and what your output might look like, such as:

    • Encouraging secondary school girls to take computing A-Level. Assessed output could be a plan of interventions and resources to use in school.


    Start End Fee Register
    02 Oct 2021 Jun 2022 Not yet available

    Registration closes 09/09/21 (places subject to availability)

    This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2027.

    Future availability

    Advance your independent learning starts once a year – in October.

    This page describes the module that will start in October 2021. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2027.

    Additional costs

    Study costs

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

    Ways to pay for this module

    We know there’s a lot to think about when choosing to study, not least how much it’s going to cost and how you can pay.

    That’s why we keep our fees as low as possible and offer a range of flexible payment and funding options, including a postgraduate loan, if you study this module as part of an eligible qualification. To find out more, see Fees and funding.

    Study materials

    What's included

    You'll have access to a dedicated module website, which includes:

    • a week-by-week study planner
    • module-specific materials
    • audio and video content
    • assignment details and submission section
    • online tutorial access.

    Where possible the materials are also available in other formats. Please note that the purchase of print-on-demand texts is not an option for this module.

    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 an up-to-date version of Windows or macOS.

    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.

    If you have a disability

    Written transcripts of any audio components are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader. Depending on your chosen topic, some materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way, such as musical notation and mathematical, scientific, and foreign language. Other alternative formats of the module materials may be available in the future.

    If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Visit our Disability support website to find more about what we offer.