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Get started with an Access module

Access modules provide the perfect introduction to distance learning and studying with The Open University. You'll get a broad overview of the subject that interests you, refresh your learning skills and build your self-confidence.

You may even be eligible to study for free.

Request a prospectus

Can you study an Access module for free?

In order to qualify, you must:

  1. be resident in England
  2. have a personal income of less than £25,000 (or receive qualifying benefits)
  3. have not completed one year or more on any full-time undergraduate programme at FHEQ level 4 or above, or completed 30 credits or more of OU study

How to apply to study an Access module for free

Once you've started the registration process, either online or over the phone, we'll contact you about your payment options. This will include instructions on how you can apply to study for free if you are eligible.

If you're unsure if you meet the criteria to study for free, you can check with one of our friendly advisers on +44 (0)300 303 0069 or you can request a call back.

Not eligible to study for free?

Don't worry! We offer a choice of flexible ways to help spread the cost of your Access module. The most popular options include:

  • monthly payments through OUSBA
  • part-time tuition fee loan (you'll need to be registered on a qualification for this option)

To explore all the options available to you, visit Fees and Funding.

Boost your confidence with an Access module

An Access module is a great place to start if you want a gentle introduction to Open University study – you may even be able to study for free.

Designed specifically for OU students, an Access module can help you to find out more about your interests and where you want your learning to take you.

There are several Access modules to choose from, and they start in February, May and October. They’re usually 30 weeks long, and most students study for about nine hours a week.

If a fast track option is available, you can complete your Access module in just 18 weeks by increasing your study time. We recommend that you apply early to guarantee your place.

Designed to inspire you

You’ll explore a range of broadly related subjects within one module. That means you’ll have the time and space to discover where your natural interests lie before settling on your ultimate qualification goal.

You're in control of your starting point

We’re different to other universities because we’re open to people based on their potential rather than their prior qualifications. Most of our courses have no formal entry requirements and our students come from a diverse range of educational backgrounds. So, we offer a choice of starting points depending on how confident you are in your study skills.

You can either dive straight in at Stage 1, or you might prefer a gentler start with some extra preparation, in which case, an Access module is ideal. You just need to live in the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man, Republic of Ireland, or have a British Forces Post Office address.

Distance, not distant

You won’t be alone. When you study an Access module you’ll have:

  • One-to-one tutorials with a dedicated tutor, who can tailor their approach to your individual needs. Your personal phone tutorials take place at a time that suits you, and you’ll get written feedback on your work.
  • A student support team staffed by specialist advisers, able to help with any issues you might experience while studying with us.
  • The opportunity to share ideas with other students through our online forums.

No exam

To study an Access module, you just need a phone and access to a computer with a good internet connection, that’s it. Your work on the Access module will be assessed through four short written assignments and some activities online.

Skills development built in

Our study materials will develop not only your knowledge, but your skills and confidence too. They’re designed specially to help with things like:

  • Refreshing your study techniques – it might have been a while since you last studied, or you might prefer getting to grips with online and distance learning at a gentler pace. Whatever your circumstances, an Access module is excellent preparation for the next step of your student journey with us.
  • Using computers – if you’re not confident with computers, an Access module gives you lots of help and advice as it guides you through tasks such as: internet searches, online quizzes and talking to fellow students through our online forums.

The best piece of advice I could give to a potential OU student would be to do an Access module. This prepared me perfectly for my bachelors degree in Environmental Science which I completed with the OU over six years. I enjoyed studying so much with the OU that I have now returned to complete a master’s degree in Environmental Management.

Emily Bond, Access student

Did you know?

Students who start with an Access module are more likely to be successful when they advance to OU Stage 1 study.


Register online

Simply visit the module pages below to register and book your place – we have several Access modules to choose from. You may even be eligible to study your Access module for free.

If you have any questions about Access modules, please speak to an adviser by calling +44 (0)300 303 0069 or you can request a call back.

Select your module

Arts and languages

Kick start your OU study with this introduction to literature, history, art history and English language. You’ll also touch on other arts disciplines such as classical studies, creative writing and religious studies.


Business and law

Explore some of the key areas of business and law, two subjects that impact most parts of our everyday lives.

This module has been delayed until October 2024. As an alternative, we recommend Psychology, social science and wellbeing.


Psychology, social science and wellbeing

Get an introduction to the wide-ranging topics that make up the social sciences. You'll engage with theory and real-world events to build up your skills and knowledge in preparation for further study.


Science, technology and maths

Explore a range of STEM subjects through a mix of theoretical and practical experiments to help prepare you for studying in these areas with the OU.