This diploma of higher education has two stages, each comprising 120 credits.
- You’ll start Stage 1 with two introductory 30-credit modules, followed by a 30-credit work-based learning module. You’ll finish Stage 1 with another 30-credit module in computing and IT or mathematics.
- In Stage 2, you’ll study 90 credits in a specific area of computing and IT plus a 30-credit complementary module.
Stage 1 begins with two introductory computing and IT modules followed by a module in which you’ll explore improving your practice in your workplace. Next, you’ll choose a mathematics module based on your confidence and experience or opt to sample some practical information technologies in a further computing and IT module.
At Stage 2, you’ll choose a focus area:
- communications and networking focus
- computer science focus
- software development focus
- web development focus
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 17 March 2021.
We make all our qualifications as accessible as possible and have a comprehensive range of services to support all our students. The Foundation Degree in Computing and IT Practice uses a variety of study materials and has the following elements:
- studying online – some modules have a mixture of printed and online material, and others are entirely online. Online learning resources may include websites, audio/video media clips, and interactive activities such as online quizzes
- face-to-face tutorials/day schools/workshops and/or online tutorials
- using mathematical and scientific expressions, notations and associated techniques
- working in a group with other students
- using and/or producing diagrams and/or screenshots
- practical work
- finding external/third party material online
- using technology for research purposes involving access to catalogues and databases online
- continuous and end-of-module assessment in the form of essays, short answer questions, and in some cases an examination
- using feedback: continuous assessment involves receiving detailed feedback on your work from your tutor and using this feedback to improve your performance
- engagement with learning and assessment within a pre-determined schedule or timetable – time management will be needed during your studies and the University will help you to develop these skills
- some modules may require you to use specialist software (for example the NetBeans IDE).
For more detailed information, see the Accessibility Statements on individual module descriptions. If you feel you may need additional support, visit Disability support to find more about what we offer. Contact us as soon as possible to discuss your individual requirements, so we can put arrangements in place before you start.
Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment
This qualification develops your learning in four main areas:
- Knowledge and understanding
- Cognitive skills
- Practical and professional skills
- Key skills
The level and depth of your learning gradually increases as you work through the qualification. You’ll be supported throughout by the OU’s unique style of teaching and assessment – which includes a personal tutor to guide and comment on your work; top quality course texts; elearning resources like podcasts, interactive media and online materials; tutorial groups and community forums.
Read the detailed learning outcomes here
If you have already studied at university level, you may be able to count it towards your Open University qualification – which could save you time and money by reducing the number of modules you need to study. At the OU we call this credit transfer.
It’s not just university study that can be considered, you can also transfer study from a wide range of professional or vocational qualifications such as HNCs and HNDs.
You should apply for credit transfer before you register, at least 4 weeks before the registration closing date. We will need to know what you studied, where and when and you will need to provide evidence of your previous study.
For more details of when you will need to apply by and to download an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.
On successfully completing this course, we’ll award you our Diploma of Higher Education in Computing and IT Practice.
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.
To successfully complete the two compulsory work-based modules for this qualification, whatever your chosen career, you must:
- be engaged in full-time or part-time employment – either paid or voluntary
- have permission to carry out work-based learning tasks in your work setting
- confirm that the work you submit is based on your practice in that setting.
It’s this vocational focus that distinguishes this diploma course from our Diploma of Higher Education in Computing and IT (W36).
You’ll need some basic knowledge of computing and the ability to read and write to a good standard of English.
If you’re thinking about choosing mathematics options, check that you’re ready for mathematical study at this level.
How much time do I need?
- Most of our students study part time, completing 60 credits a year.
- This will usually mean studying for 16–18 hours a week.
Find out if you have enough time to study with our time planner
Preparing for study with an Access module
Students who start their study with an Access module are more likely to be successful when they advance to Stage 1 of their qualification. They’re specially designed to give you a gentle introduction to OU study, boost confidence in your study skills, and help you gain a broad overview of your chosen subject area.
You’ll also benefit from:
- feedback from your tutor through regular one-to-one phone tutorials
- support from a dedicated team throughout your study
- detailed written feedback on your work.
The Access module we’d recommend studying in preparation for this qualification is our:
Science, technology and maths Access module
What you will study
This multidisciplinary module is an ideal starting point if you have little or no previous knowledge of the sciences, technology and mathematics. It'll help develop your study skills in advance of your OU qualification, and you get to explore a number of STEM subjects including science, engineering and design, environment, mathematics, and computing and IT.
View full details of Science, technology and maths Access module
Skills for career development
If you work, or would like to work, with computing and IT systems in hardware, software, or systems-based contexts, this course is for you. You will learn the principles of these technologies, how to apply them, and surrounding issues to be aware of. During this course you will gain valuable experience of working in a team to tackle a small development task. You will gain valuable transferable skills in communication, the use of IT facilities, retrieval of information, numeracy, time management and organisation, and analysing and solving problems. You will also be well prepared for further study should you decide to top up to an honours degree.
Finance, government, business, commerce, public services such as health and education, and the voluntary sector are all critically dependent on computing and IT systems. This diploma course is an ideal starting point for a career in any of these sectors, focusing on information technology, computing, communication technology and related fields, or to enhance your existing career.
Research by e-Skills UK has shown that IT and telecommunications now employs 1 in 20 of the UK workforce. It also suggests the digital sector will need nearly 300,000 new recruits by 2020 to meet the demand for skills in this area.
Growth areas and areas of high demand include cyber security, mobile development, cloud computing and the management of Big Data.
A qualification in computing and IT has many applications beyond pure technology roles, such as roles in corporate or management consultancy firms, technical writing or freelance work.
In addition to improving your career prospects, studying with the OU is an enriching experience that broadens your horizons, develops your knowledge, builds your confidence and enhances your life skills.
Exploring your options
Once you register with us (and for up to three years after you finish your studies), you’ll have full access to our careers service for a wide range of information and advice – including online forums, website, interview simulation, vacancy service as well as the option to email or speak to a careers adviser. Some areas of the careers service website are available for you to see now, including help with looking for and applying for jobs. You can also read more general information about how OU study enhances your career.
In the meantime if you want to do some research around this qualification and where it might take you, we’ve put together a list of relevant job titles as a starting point (note that some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience):
- applications programmer
- information systems manager
- database administrator
- information technology consultant
- multimedia programmer
- software engineer
- systems analyst
- systems designer
- computer support specialist
- applications developer
- web designer
- technical consultant
- network engineer
- technical sales.