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MA in Online and Distance Education


This masters degree is part of a programme that includes a postgraduate certificate and postgraduate diploma. These qualifications are presented by The Open University's Institute of Educational Technology and are open to students from countries all over the world. They offer you the unique opportunity to study the theory and practice of online and distance education through modules designed by experts from the Institute who are now using information technology to reinvent open and distance learning. Working with them, in collaboration with colleagues from around the world, you will be at the forefront of the latest developments as they happen.

Planning your studies

You must be prepared for study at postgraduate level. This usually means holding a first degree - whether from a UK university or from one outside the UK - or its equivalent. 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.

Whilst you can study the modules in any order, we recommend that you first read our Pathways guidance to see which might be the best route through this qualification for you.  

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.

Career relevance and employability

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, 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 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 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 will 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:

  • Open educational resources and approaches for learning within university, college, management or other contexts, if you include Openness and innovation in elearning (H817)
  • The development of inclusive education in relation to the accessibility of learning contexts online for all students, including the support needs of those with a disability, if you include Accessible online learning: supporting disabled students (H810).
  • If you wish to specialise in the research and evaluation area, you can also build a foundation in terms of engagement with the research literature and research methods, which provides an excellent platform for further postgraduate study, if you include Practice-based research in educational technology (H809)
  • 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 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, practice educators in nursing, and web developers.

There is more information about how OU study can improve your employability in the OU’s Employability Statement from our Careers Advisory Service. You can also read or download our publication OU study and your career and look at our subject pages to find out about career opportunities.


For this 180-credit masters degree you require:

60 credits from the following compulsory module:

Postgraduate compulsory module Credits Next start
Technology-enhanced learning: practices and debates (H800)

Engage with elearning or 'technology-enhanced' learning by exploring the processes of designing, implementing and evaluating, and become a creative and effective elearning professional.

See full description

60 Feb 2016

And 60 credits from the following optional modules:

Postgraduate optional modules Credits Next start
Accessible online learning: supporting disabled students (H810)

Examine the learning experiences of disabled students, the technical aspects of accessibility, and the current debates and discussions about disability and accessibility in educational contexts.

See full description

30 Sep 2015
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 Feb 2016
Practice-based research in educational technology (H809)

Develop research and evaluation skills in technology-rich environments by learning about new methods of data collection and analysis, and the philosophical assumptions underlying educational enquiry.

See full description

30 Feb 2016 FINAL
The networked practitioner (H818)

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

See full description

30 Oct 2015

Or, subject to the rules about excluded combinations, the discontinued modules H801, H802, H803, H804, H805, H806, H807, H808, H850

And a further 60 credits from the optional modules listed above, or 60 credits from the following optional modules:

Postgraduate optional modules Credits Next start
Critical issues in equity, diversity and educational practice (E805)

You will develop of an understanding of the factors contributing to social and educational exclusion and explore approaches and pedagogies for establishing inclusive learning environments.

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60 Oct 2015
Curriculum, learning and society: investigating practice (E846)

This module enables teachers and education professionals to analyse, evaluate and develop their own and others’ practice and enter debates in teaching, learning and assessment.

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60 Oct 2015 FINAL
Difficulties in literacy development (E801)

Explore appropriate curriculum responses to the needs of children as well as the wider issues relevant to adults who experience difficulty in literacy development.

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60 Oct 2015
Education for development (ET821)

Explores the relationship between education and development through topics such as teachers, use of new technologies and gender equality in education.

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30 Nov 2015
Educational inquiry (E891)

Explore educational enquiry, including data processing and analysis, and learn effective techniques for reading, assessing and reviewing research literatures with this introductory masters-level module.

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60 Oct 2015
Educational leadership: context, strategy and collaboration (E856)

This module explores current thinking on educational leadership and management and encourages effective integration of theory and practice in developing your leadership skills.

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60 Oct 2015
Investigating language in action (E854)

This masters level module examines and reflects on the nature and use of language in action, and develops your skills in analysing English texts.

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60 Oct 2015
Language, literacy and learning in the contemporary world (E852)

If you are interested in exploring language, literacy and learning in today’s world with its increasing linguistic and cultural diversity and rapid technological development, this online masters-level module is for you.

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60 Oct 2015
Leading professional practice in education (E855)

You will explore the internal-facing aspects of leadership and management through looking at the curriculum and the learner’s role, leading change and promoting professional development.

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60 Oct 2015
Researching mathematics learning (ME825)

This module offers valuable insight into the teaching and learning of mathematics for anyone involved – from classroom assistants and teachers to lecturers and parents.

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60 Oct 2015
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.

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60 Oct 2015

Or, subject to the rules about excluded combinations, the discontinued modules H812, SEH806, SH804.

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.

Learning outcomes

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, and how they are acquired through teaching, learning and assessment methods.

Credit for previous study elsewhere

If you have already completed some successful study at postgraduate level at another institution you may be able to transfer credit for this study and count it towards this Open University qualification. If you wish to apply to transfer credit you must do so as soon as possible as it may affect your choice of OU modules. If you are awarded credit for study completed elsewhere, you may find that you need to study fewer OU modules to complete your qualification with us.

Visit our Credit Transfer site for more information and details of how to apply for credit transfer.

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 following regulations:

These regulations are also available on our Essential Documents website.

How to register

If you want to study for this qualification, read the description and check you meet any specific requirements (for example, some of our qualifications, require you to be working in a particular environment, or be sponsored by your employer). Then select the module you wish to study first and ensure it is suitable for you before following the registration procedure for that module. During the registration procedure you will be asked to declare which qualification you are studying towards.

See a full list of modules available for this qualification

About this Taught Masters
Code F10
Level Postgraduate
Made up of 180 credits

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