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MA/MSc Open

This innovative masters degree allows you to create a personalised course of study across a range of academic disciplines. The programme will enable you to expand your discipline-related knowledge at masters level, gain broader subject-specific knowledge and pursue further professional development in areas that align with your employment needs and professional aspirations. 

Key features of the course

  • Ideal if you’re interested in several different, yet related fields of study 
  • Opportunity to specialise in one of four related areas of study
  • Offers the flexibility to design your own personalised programme of study
  • Tailor your studies to meet your personal interests or professional aspirations

Masters degree

Course code
F81
Credits

Credits

  • 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.
180
How long it takes
2–8 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

Modules

Route 1: You can study 180 credits and specialise within one of the following broadly related study areas:

  • Arts, Humanities, Music and Language (Group 1)
  • Education, Psychology, Health Science and Healthcare (Group 2)
  • Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (Group 3)
  • Business, Finance, Human Resources and Law (Group 4)

Route 2: You can choose to study 120 credits, specialising within one study area (as above) and take up to 60 credits from any other study area, including:

  • Further professional development module options (Group 5)

Some restrictions or pre-requisites may apply to certain modules within the programme. You should refer to individual module entry requirements and module descriptions to ensure that you are adequately prepared before your register for this qualification.

To help you plan your studies on this qualification we strongly advise that you use this Study Plan to map a route through the MA/MSc Open that best suits your educational and career objectives within the required time limit. The purpose of the Study Plan is for you to identify which modules you want to study and when they will be studied. The modules quoted in this description are currently available for study. However, as we review the curriculum on a regular basis, the exact selection may change over time. Before planning your qualification, make sure that you check the final presentation dates of your intended modules.

If you wish to change your chosen modules at any point during your studies, this will be possible providing the modules used to complete your qualification are still included in either Route 1 or Route 2, as described in the Study Plan. Further support and advice is available to help you make an informed decision about your education and future career. If you have any queries, please speak to an adviser.

Arts, Humanities, Music and Language module options (Group 1)

Modules Credits Next start
MA Art History part 1  (A843)

This first part of the MA will teach you the research methodologies and theoretical concepts of Art History.  

See full description

Register
60 06 Oct 2018
MA Classical Studies part 1  (A863)

This module tackles the question, ‘How do we know what we know’ about ancient Greece and Rome by investigating classical studies as a multidisciplinary field.

See full description

Register
60 06 Oct 2018
MA Creative Writing part 1  (A802)

This online module is an exciting opportunity to develop your skills in fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction and scriptwriting, using practical writing, reading and research activities.

See full description

Register
60 06 Oct 2018
MA English part 1  (A815)

Expand on your previous study and prepare for your dissertation through an exploration of a rich variety of literary texts, from the ancient past to the present.

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Register
120 29 Sep 2018
MA History part 1  (A825)

Explore British and Irish histories from the eighteenth to twentieth centuries and increase your understanding of a range of key approaches to studying history.

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Register
120 29 Sep 2018
MA Music part 1  (A873)

This module introduces a range of music research skills and you will consider written documents about music, musical criticism and performances in western and non-western music.

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Register
60 06 Oct 2018 FINAL
MA Philosophy part 1  (A853)

This module introduces you to graduate-level philosophy through studying the beauty of nature; a classic text – Plato’s Meno; the nature of consciousness; and issues around global justice. 
 

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Register
60 06 Oct 2018
Introduction to translation theory and practice  (L801)

This module explores different approaches to translation and you will develop an understanding of the wider cultural, ethical and professional contexts of translation.

See full description

Register
60 02 Feb 2019
 

Or, subject to the rules about excluded combinations, the discontinued modules A840, A850, A860 and A870.

Education, Psychology, Health Science and Healthcare module options (Group 2)

Modules Credits Next start
Children and young people's worlds: frameworks for integrated practice  (E807)

This module engages with a range of critical perspectives on children’s lives and experiences in the contemporary world, at national and international levels.

See full description

Register
60 06 Oct 2018 FINAL
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

Register
60 06 Oct 2018
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

Register
60
06 Oct 2018
 
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.

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Register
60 06 Oct 2018
Technology-enhanced learning: foundations and futures (H880) NEW

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

See full description

Register
60 04 Feb 2019
Openness and innovation in e-learning (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.

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Register
60 02 Feb 2019
Leading healthcare improvements  (K827)

This module will help you develop leadership skills in relation to healthcare improvements, innovation and policy.

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Register
60 06 Oct 2018 FINAL
Introduction to mental health science  (S826)

This module develops postgraduate skills, and introduces key topics in mental health science (stress, anxiety and depression) from biological, psychological and social science perspectives.

See full description

Register
60 26 Jan 2019
Principles of social and psychological inquiry  (DD801)

This online module aims to equip you with a range of critical research literacy skills that provide a crucial foundation for your continuing postgraduate studies within psychology and the social sciences.

See full description

Register
60 06 Oct 2018

Or, subject to the rules about excluded combinations, the discontinued modules H800, E805, E854, E855 and E891.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics module options (Group 3)

Modules Credits Next start
Information security  (M811)

Explore the professional and technical skills necessary to understand, document, manage and implement strategic and operational aspects of your organisation's information security.

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Register
30 01 Nov 2018
Digital forensics  (M812)

This module will help you understand how to conduct investigations to correctly gather, analyse and present digital evidence to both business and legal audiences.

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Register
30 01 May 2019 FINAL
Software development (M813)

Gain the fundamental knowledge and understanding, and analysis and synthesis skills that you will need to develop software artefacts fit for a real-world organisational context.

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Register
30 01 May 2019
Data management (M816)

Discover the data management principles, practices and technologies required to develop policies, procedures and systems that control, protect, deliver and enhance the value of an organisation’s data asset.

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Register
30 01 Nov 2018  
Analytic number theory 1  (M823)

This entry-level pure mathematics module introduces a variety of concepts from number theory, and culminates in a proof of Dirichlet's theorem on prime numbers in arithmetic progressions.

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Register
30 06 Oct 2018
Applied complex variables (M828)

Complex variable theory pervades many subjects, and this module teaches topics that are useful in the theoretical sciences and of interest in their own right.

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30 No current presentation
Advanced mathematical methods  (M833)

Learn advanced mathematical methods with the aid of algebraic computing language Maple, and explore various forms of approximation on this MSc in Mathematics module.

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30  No current presentation
Molecules in medicine (S807)

Examine the molecular basis of drug action in medicine, covering topics like infectious diseases (bacterial and viral), cancer, heart disease, inflammation and neuropharmacology.

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Register
60 26 Jan 2019
Earth science: a systems approach  (S808)

Introduces a systems approach to Earth science and explores several important Earth system interactions using a variety of methods and models.

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Register
60 26 Jan 2019 FINAL
Space science (S818)

This module provides an in-depth introduction to the methods of conducting scientific measurements in the space environment and the technologies needed for space missions.

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Register
60  26 Jan 2019
Finite element analysis: basic principles and applications (T804)

This module introduces some of the computational modelling and analysis techniques used in engineering the products, processes and systems that support our modern lifestyles.

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Register
30 01 Nov 2018
Manufacture, materials design (T805)

Introducing materials processing from the perspective of a design engineer, this module explores how to make components, focusing on the interactions between manufacturing, materials and design.

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Register
30 01 May 2019
Advanced routing - CCNP 1  (T824)

This module provides the knowledge, understanding and skills to deploy and manage internal and external routing protocols for large scale inter-networks using Cisco equipment.

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Register
30 01 May 2019 FINAL
Network security  (T828)

This module will give you the knowledge, understanding and practical experience of managing a secure communication across a large-scale inter-network using Cisco equipment.

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Register
30 01 Nov 2018
Environmental monitoring and protection  (T868)

This online module equips you with the skills necessary to undertake environmental assessment work, interpret the results and suggest appropriate remedial measures.

See full description

Register
30 01 Nov 2018
Making environmental decisions (T891)

Defining environment to include biophysical, social, political, economic factors, this module uses a systems framework to integrate environment with other elements in environmental decision-making situations.

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Register
30  01 Nov 2018

Or, subject to the rules about excluded combinations, the discontinued modules T825, T863, T881 and T884.

Business, Finance, Human Resources and Law (Group 4)

Modules Credits Next start
Introduction to corporate finance (B858)

This module covers the core areas of corporate finance and is the basis for developing specialist financial expertise. 

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Register
30 03 Nov 2018
Financial strategy: valuation, governance and ethics  (B859)

This module provides the theoretical and analytical knowledge required in making financial policy decisions, exploring issues such as ethics and introducing Islamic finance.

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Register
30 04 May 2019
Research methods for finance (B860)

This module introduces the principles of research; its process, philosophy and methodology. You'll develop competences in applying statistical and econometric techniques to problems in finance.

See full description

Register
30 03 Nov 2018
The human resource professional (B863)

This module provides an introduction to the various requirements of a human resource professional in an organisation. 

See full description

Register
30 03 Nov 2018
Managing research in the workplace  (B865)

This module provides students with an introduction to research skills in order for them to complete a live, work-related research project.

See full description

Register
30 03 Nov 2018
Employment relations and employee engagement  (B866)

This module explores employment relations strategies in national and international contexts and the associated impacts on employee engagement, as well as the management of change, diversity and conflict.

See full description

Register
30 03 Nov 2018
Workplace learning and coaching and mentoring  (B867)

This module explores learning and talent development at strategic and operational levels and provides an opportunity to develop coaching and mentoring skills.

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Register
30 04 May 2019
Exploring legal meaning  (W820)

This module looks at different legal research methods, including doctrinal, socio-legal and comparative, to see how they can be used to explore the place and meaning of law in the modern world.

See full description

Register
30 03 Nov 2018
Exploring the boundaries of international law  (W821)

This module examines the complexities of twenty-first century international law by exploring the evolving role and function of international law in the modern world.

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Register
30 04 May 2019

Further professional development module options (Group 5)

Modules Credits Next start
Investment and portfolio management  (B861)

The module covers investment strategies for bonds, equities, the use of derivatives in managing risk, measuring portfolio performance, portfolio optimisation and asset allocation.

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Register
30 04 May 2019
Derivatives and risk management  (B862)

This module introduces key tools such as derivatives and risk mapping and provides you with an understanding of how the various financial and non-financial risks faced by organisations can be managed. 

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Register
30 04 May 2019
Sustainable creative management  (BB842)

This module explores creative, innovative and sustainable ways of developing and managing organisations and offers practical approaches for developing yourself, your team and your organisation.

See full description

Register
15 03 Nov 2018
Marketing in the 21st century  (BB844)

This module explores the issues that emerge from marketing planning and uses current theories and examples to show how organisations deal with environmental challenges.

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Register
15 03 Nov 2018
Management beyond the mainstream  (BB847)

This module looks at some important limitations of mainstream management thinking and explores a variety of alternatives to it – some longstanding, some recently developed.

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Register
15 03 Nov 2018
Leadership and management in intercultural contexts  (BB848)

This module examines the conceptions of leadership and management in different cultures and the expectations these raise in different cultural settings.

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Register
15 03 Nov 2018
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

Register
30 06 Apr 2019
Project management  (M815)

In this online module you’ll explore the whole life cycle of projects, from initiation, through to planning, scheduling, execution, handover and review.

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Register
30 01 May 2019
Managing technological innovation  (T848)

This module explores the processes that underpin technological innovation an understanding of which is crucial whether you are a user or producer of technological innovation.

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Register
30 01 Nov 2018
Strategic capabilities for technological innovation  (T849)

This module draws on a range of theoretical perspectives from both strategic and innovation management to produce a multi-layered, practical, approach to strategic management of technological innovation.

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Register
30 01 Nov 2018
Managing for sustainability  (T867)

This module will increase your understanding of delivering and supporting sustainability management in your workplace or support your personal interest in this subject.

See full description

Register
30 01 Nov 2018
Development: context and practice  (T877)

This module provides a conceptual framework for analysing the complex, contested contexts in which development takes place, and a critical analysis of development management practice.

See full description

Register
30 01 Nov 2018
Capacities for managing development (T878)

This module builds the competence and confidence to manage development, local and global, more effectively, and bring about greater social equality and justice. 

See full description

Register
30 01 Nov 2018
Conflict and development (T879)

Combining theoretical concepts with practical tools, this module explores the causes of conflict, the impact conflicts have on development, and actions that can help mitigate conflicts.

See full description

Register
30 01 Nov 2018
Thinking strategically: systems tools for managing change (TU811)

Improve your management skills by exploring different approaches to engaging with complex situations and by developing your understanding of how cognitive processing shapes practice.

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Register
30 01 May 2019 FINAL
Managing systemic change: inquiry, action and interaction  (TU812)

Develop your understanding of systemic inquiry, systemic action research and social learning in order to extend your skills of project, programme and change management.

See full description

Register
30 01 Nov 2018
Institutional development  (TU872)

This module analyses institutions, identifies their significance for development, examines how to build inter-organisational relationships, and explores the skills of mapping, modelling, negotiation and brokering.

See full description

Register
30 01 Nov 2018
Continuing professional development practice (U810)

This module allows you to evaluate and assess 150 hours prior learning and identify and progress appropriate development opportunities for future continuing professional development. 

See full description

Register
30 03 Nov 2018

Or, subject to the rules about excluded combinations, the discontinued modules H809, T835, T840, T846, T862, TU870 and TU871.

EXAMPLE ROUTES THROUGH THE QUALIFICATION

The following example routes through the qualification and corresponding (hypothetical) student ‘profiles’ are provided here for guidance.

Student A

38-year old Museum Curator who has a first degree in Fine Art and is taking this route through the qualification to deepen their historical understanding, increase their application of knowledge in their professional environment, and to develop their career prospects.

180 credits from Group 1 – Art, Humanities, Music and Language

Modules Credits Next start
MA Art History part 1  (A843)

This first part of the MA will teach you the research methodologies and theoretical concepts of Art History.  

See full description

Register
60 06 Oct 2018
MA Classical Studies part 1  (A863)

This module tackles the question, ‘How do we know what we know’ about ancient Greece and Rome by investigating classical studies as a multidisciplinary field.

See full description

Register
60 06 Oct 2018
Introduction to translation theory and practice  (L801)

This module explores different approaches to translation and you will develop an understanding of the wider cultural, ethical and professional contexts of translation.

See full description

Register
60 02 Feb 2019
 

Student B

45-year old Deputy Head Teacher who holds a first degree in History and has ten years of professional teaching experience at a secondary school, whose educational aims, linked to career development, are to develop their understanding of children and youth, online education and leadership skills.

180 credits from Group 2 – Education, Psychology, Health Science and Healthcare

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

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

See full description

Register
60 04 Feb 2019
Children and young people's worlds: frameworks for integrated practice  (E807)

This module engages with a range of critical perspectives on children’s lives and experiences in the contemporary world, at national and international levels.

See full description

Register
60 06 Oct 2018 FINAL
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

Register
60 06 Oct 2018

Student C

54-year old Journalist who holds a first degree in English and Politics with more than 25 years of professional experience, who is taking this route through the qualification for career and personal development.

120 credits from Group 1 – Art, Humanities, Music and Language

Modules Credits Next start
MA Creative Writing part 1  (A802)

This online module is an exciting opportunity to develop your skills in fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction and scriptwriting, using practical writing, reading and research activities.

See full description

Register
60 06 Oct 2018
MA Classical Studies part 1  (A863)

This module tackles the question, ‘How do we know what we know’ about ancient Greece and Rome by investigating classical studies as a multidisciplinary field.

See full description

Register
60 06 Oct 2018

Plus 60 credits from Group 5 - Further professional development module options

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

Register
30 06 Apr 2019
Continuing professional development in practice  (U810)

This module allows you to evaluate and assess 150 hours prior learning and identify and progress appropriate development opportunities for future continuing professional development. 

See full description

Register
30 03 Nov 2018

Student D

32-year old Human Resource Manager who holds a first degree in Psychology, whose educational aims are to deepen their level of subject knowledge, academic skills and educational awareness to support and develop their professional career.

120 credits from Group 2 – Education, Psychology, Health Science and Healthcare
Modules Credits Next start
Introduction to mental health science  (S826)

This module develops postgraduate skills, and introduces key topics in mental health science (stress, anxiety and depression) from biological, psychological and social science perspectives.

See full description

Register
60 26 Jan 2019
Principles of social and psychological enquiry  (DD801)

This online module aims to equip you with a range of critical research literacy skills that provide a crucial foundation for your continuing postgraduate studies within psychology and the social sciences.

See full description

Register
60 06 Oct 2018

Plus 60 credits from Group 5 - Further professional development module options 

Development: context and practice (T877)

This module provides a conceptual framework for analysing the complex, contested contexts in which development takes place, and a critical analysis of development management practice.

See full description

Register
30 01 Nov 2018
Conflict and development (T879)

Combining theoretical concepts with practical tools, this module explores the causes of conflict, the impact conflicts have on development, and actions that can help mitigate conflicts.

See full description

Register
30 01 Nov 2018

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 will be awarded either a Master of Arts Open, entitling you to use the letters MA Open (Open) after your name or a Master of Science Open, entitling you to use the letters MSc Open (Open) after your name. You will have the option of being presented at a degree ceremony and collecting your award certificate there.

Regulations

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

Entry to this qualification will typically require a first degree or equivalent qualification relevant to your intended specialist area of study i.e. Art, Humanities, Music and Languages (Study Area 1), Education, Psychology, Health Sciences and Healthcare (Study Area 2), Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (Study Area 3) and Business, Finance, Human Resources and Law (Study Area 4). 

If you have other study or experience that you believe equips you to take this qualification you can still apply, but must supply evidence of your study or experience. Your case will be referred to the Programme Admissions Team. Depending on your previous qualifications or experience, some background study may be necessary before registering for this qualification or its constituent modules. If your first degree is not in a subject relevant to your intended area of specialisation for this masters degree, we would, for example, expect you to have completed at least 60 credits of study at FHEQ level 6 or equivalent that is relevant to your chosen specialist area, before you register for this qualification. For further advice, please email the Programme Admissions Team.

Any individual module entry requirements (including prescribed study order, pre-requisite study or access to a particular work setting etc.) will need to be separately met, where specified. Please refer to individual module entry requirements and descriptions to ensure that you are adequately prepared before starting to study for this qualification. You will also need good computing skills and a level of proficiency in the English language that is adequate for study at postgraduate level.

If English is not your first language, we strongly recommend that you have achieved an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of at least 7. You can assess your English language skills in relation to your proposed studies by visiting the IELTS website.

If you are new to postgraduate study, we would strongly recommend that you complete the free Badged Open Course, Succeeding in postgraduate studyin advance of your course start date. This free course (24 hours of study across eight sessions) will introduce you to the nature of masters level study and offers essential preparation for pursuing your learning at this level. You will also find this course helpful if you are re-engaging with postgraduate study after a period of absence from academic study.

Please note that applicants will be required to present an outline of their proposed plan of study and their educational and career objectives. Depending on the selection of modules and career goals specified, specialised study within a defined area may be deemed more suitable, and would be recommended. Applicants will be directed to relevant named degree programmes in such instances.

How long it takes

The recommended pace of study is three years (for the majority of module combinations and routes through the qualification). Although in certain circumstances, it may be possible to complete this qualification in less than three years, we recommend that you take no more than 90 credits a year due to the demands that studying the degree will make on you.

Module start dates do vary (modules can start in January/February, April/May or October/November) and in some instances, depending on the choice of modules selected for study, the minimum time taken to complete the qualification may be more than three years. The maximum time to complete is eight years. A 30-credit module typically requires 300 hours, and a 60-credit module 600 hours of study (this is equivalent to 8–10 hours of study per week on a 30-credit module and 16–20 hours per week of study on a 60-credit module, over a period of up to 32 weeks).

Career relevance

This multidisciplinary programme may support a variety of career prospects in both public and private sectors, including (but not limited to) education, science, humanities, business, healthcare, journalism, public relations. However, given that your study would be self-designed the possibilities will depend on your particular choices. The degree can be used to inform or strengthen your current employment or professional practice. Alternatively, it could prepare you for many different areas, so if you are thinking of boosting your current prospects or intending to move into a new area, it would be important that you design a programme that suits your specific career needs.

This programme is intended for students with broader interests in several fields or for those whose career goals do not match fully with a single academic area or named degree. It is not a substitute for specialised training concentrating on a single area, but recognises that career aspirations and interests can extend across traditional boundaries and specialisations, and supports students seeking a qualification offering a breadth of skills and knowledge crossing traditional boundaries

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