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Postgraduate Diploma in Online and Distance Education

Please note that the final enrolment date for this qualification will be 16 January 2020 after which it will no longer be available to new students. You must complete your study by 31 December 2021. If you would like to discuss your options with one of our advisers, please contact us or book a call back.

This postgraduate diploma offers the unique opportunity to draw on the expertise of The Open University's Institute of Educational Technology - world leaders in the innovative use of new media and technologies in online education. You will study the theory and practice of online and distance education, covering topics such as the learning experiences of disabled students and the technical aspects of accessibility; and the processes of designing, implementing and evaluating technology-enhanced learning. Working with our experts in collaboration with colleagues from around the world, you will be at the forefront of the latest developments.

Key features of the course

  • Designed to develop creative, effective elearning professionals
  • Builds your research and evaluation skills in the context of online education
  • Enables you to experience producing online and distance education resources and improving them through peer engagement and reflection 
  • The opportunity to top up to our MA in Online and Distance Education in just one more year
  • Relevant for non-practitioners with an interest in online learning


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
Minimum - 2 years
Read more about how long it takes
Study method
Distance learning
Find out more in Why the OU?
Course cost
See Fees and funding
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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Course details


To gain this qualification, you need 120 credits from the modules below:

Optional modules Credits Next start
Openness and innovation in elearning (H817)

With an emphasis on exploring innovation, you will look at both the latest developments in educational tools and current debates around the concept of openness.

See full description

60 01 Feb 2020
Technology-enhanced learning: foundations and futures (H880)

This module, presented on FutureLearn, will develop your ability to engage creatively and effectively with the broad field of technology-enhanced learning, teaching and training.

See full description

60 03 Feb 2020
The critical researcher: educational technology in practice  (H819)

Using examples including popular and social media, you will critically evaluate educational technology research and cutting-edge innovations, and be able to apply these findings to your own practices. 

See full description

30 04 Apr 2020
The networked practitioner (H818)

This module enables you to experience producing a project and resources related to online and distance education and then improving them through engagement with others in peer reflection.

See full description

30 05 Oct 2019

Or, subject to the rules about excluded combinations, the discontinued modules H800, H801, H802, H803, H804, H805, H806, H807, H808, H809, H810.

You should note that the University’s unique study rule applies to this qualification. This means that you must include at least 40 credits from OU modules that have not been counted in any other OU qualification that has previously been awarded to you.

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 20th March 2019.

Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment

The learning outcomes of this qualification are described in four areas:

  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Cognitive skills
  • Practical and professional skills
  • Key skills
Read more detailed information about the learning outcomes.

Credit transfer

Credit transfer is not available for this qualification.

On completion

On successful completion of the required modules you can be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma in Online and Distance Education entitling you to use the letters PG Dip (ODE) (Open) after your name.

To gain the MA in Online and Distance Education (F10) you must gain another 60 credits either from studying modules listed above or from a wider selection of postgraduate modules. You must include the 60-credit module Technology-enhanced learning: foundations and future (H880).


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

You must be prepared for study at postgraduate level. This usually means holding a bachelors degree - whether from a UK university or from one outside the UK - or its equivalent. However, if you have successfully completed two-thirds of a bachelors degree (an HND in the UK, for example) and have professional experience in technology-enabled learning, you may still be eligible for the programme. You will be asked to provide further information and evidence of your eligibility as part of the registration process for the programme.

All teaching is in English, and your proficiency in the language needs to be adequate for postgraduate study and for contributing to online discussions by text and voice. If English is not your first language, we strongly recommend that you make sure you can achieve a score of at least seven in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). To assess your English Language skills in relation to your proposed studies, you can visit the IELTS website. Although experience of distance education may be an advantage, it is not essential. If you are not sure whether your qualifications and experience are suitable, please do not hesitate to contact us for advice.

How long it takes

The minimum time to complete this qualification is two years.

Career relevance

Workplaces and work roles increasingly involve media-rich and technology-enhanced forms of learning, professional practice and personal development, often summarised in the term ‘elearning’. Accordingly the experience of achieving this diploma has proved vocationally relevant across a wide range of occupations and locations, from managers in business organisations, teachers of languages, consultants, trainers and teachers at any level of the education sector.

Each module in the Postgraduate Diploma in Online and Distance Education requires study using a range of tools and learning environments. Consequently you will improve your personal skills in using these tools and this makes a positive impact on your own practice. You will experience the implications of learning technology choices made across a wide range of contexts and organisations, both formal and informal. You'll advance not only your skills of selection and design of technology, but also your understanding of how technologies engage learners and how they can be evaluated and developed on a continuing basis.

Depending on your choice of module study, the qualification will enable you to demonstrate in addition, expertise in particular areas:

  • Designing, implementing and critiquing technology-enhanced learning, if you study Technology-enhanced learning: foundations and futures (H880)
  • Open educational resources and approaches for learning within university, college, management or other contexts, if you include Openness and innovation in elearning (H817)
  • Research and evaluation of educational technology, including research design and planning, and critical review of research reports, if you have included The critical researcher: Educational technology in practice (H819).
  • The increasing usage of social media and open content by educators and students to share knowledge and practice through online dissemination, if you include The networked practitioner (H818).

The vocational relevance of a qualification in Online and Distance Education goes well beyond the obvious category of teacher and trainer, and previous alumni have included librarians, media professionals, project managers, consultants, entrepreneurs, practice educators in nursing, web developers and other professionals in commerce

Careers and Employability Services have more information on how OU study can improve your employability.