You are viewing information for England.  Change country.
Students online using laptops and tablets

MA in Online and Distance Education

Please note that the final enrolment date for this qualification will be 17 January 2019 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 innovative MA offers you the unique opportunity to study the theory and practice of online and distance education through materials created by experts from The Open University's Institute of Educational Technology – who are reinventing digital learning through the innovative use of new media and technologies. You’ll develop your understanding of technology-enhanced learning, from design, selection and use to evaluation and continuing development. A wide choice of modules enables you to contextualise your learning in topics of relevance to your own practice and interests, including e-learning at work, social media, supporting disabled students, and research methods.

Key features of the course

  • Our study environment enables you to collaborate with students from around the world
  • There is scope for individual study and you'll receive individualised feedback from you tutor
  • Your study will cover the latest developments in digital learning
  • Relevant for non-practitioners with an interest in online learning

Masters degree

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
Postgraduate loan available
See Fees and funding
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

Last Day


Join over 12,000 students who’ve registered for courses starting in February.

Request your prospectus

Explore our subjects and courses.

Request your copy today

Course details


You can study the modules in any order, but we recommend that you read our Pathways guidance to help you choose suitable route through the qualification.  

To gain this qualification, you need 180 credits as follows:

A 60-credit compulsory module

Compulsory module Credits Next start
Technology-enhanced learning: foundations and futures (H880) NEW

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 04 Feb 2019

60 credits from list A:

List A: Core 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 02 Feb 2019
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 06 Apr 2019
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.

a further 60 credits from list A or list B:

List B: Optional modules Credits Next start
Addressing inequality and difference in educational practice (EE814)

This module explores issues of equality within the professional practice setting by way of broad themes which apply internationally – for example, ethnicity, disability, religion and gender.

See full description

60 05 Oct 2019
Applied linguistics and English language (EE817)

This module explores how the English language works in different professional contexts, and how knowledge about language can illuminate aspects of the social world.

See full description

60 05 Oct 2019
Educational leadership: agency, professional learning and change (EE811)

This module explores aspects of educational leadership and management, linking theory and practice. The focus is on models of leadership, leading professional development and management of change. 

See full description

60 05 Oct 2019
Understanding children's development and learning (ED841)

Examines children's development and learning in cultural, educational and social contexts and how children shape their own development through meaningful interaction with others.

See full description

60 05 Oct 2019 FINAL
Learning and teaching: educating the next generation (EE830)

This masters module will challenge you to think through the purposes of education and how it can be made fit for the future.

See full description

60 05 Oct 2019

Or, subject to the rules about excluded combinations, the discontinued modules E801, E805, E807, E846, E848, E852, E854, E855, E856, E857, E859, E891, EE880, EE881, ET821, H812, H850, ME825, SEH806, SH804.

Excluded combinations

You can only do one or the other and not both of the following:

  • H880 or H800
  • H819 or H809
  • E805 or EE814
  • E854 or EE817
  • E855 or EE811 or E857
  • EE880 or E881
  • H812 or H850

If you have already studied with The Open University at postgraduate level and now want to count your module or modules towards the MA in Online and Distance Education, you will need to ask us to link your previous record to the qualification. We will check our regulations at that stage to ensure the module is eligible.

You should note that the University’s unique study rule applies to this qualification. This means that you must include at least 60 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 8th June 2018.

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

If you’ve successfully completed some relevant postgraduate study elsewhere, you might be able to count it towards this qualification, reducing the number of modules you need to study. You should apply for credit transfer as soon as possible, before you register for your first module. For more details and an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website

On completion

On successful completion of the required modules:

- you can be awarded a Master of Arts in Online and Distance Education entitling you to use the letters MA (ODE) (Open) after your name. You will have the opportunity of being presented at a degree ceremony.

- you are also eligible for a Postgraduate Certificate in Online and Distance Education (C23) when you have successfully gained 60 credits and a Postgraduate Diploma in Online and Distance Education (D36) after achieving 120 credits.


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 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 masters degree has proved vocationally relevant across a wide range of occupations and locations, from managers in business organisations, media professionals, teachers of languages, consultants, trainers and teachers at any level of the education sector.

Each module in the MA in Online and Distance Education requires study using a range of tools and The Open University's online learning environment. Consequently you will improve your personal skills in using these tools, enabling you to develop your own practice and to learn from others. You will explore in depth the research and practice literature in technology-enhanced learning, and 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 and an online conference if you include The networked practitioner (H818).

The vocational relevance of the MA 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, other professionals in commerce, practice educators in nursing and web developers.

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