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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?

Depending on eligibility and availability of places, you could apply to study your Access module for free.

To qualify, you must:

  1. be resident in England
  2. have a household income of less than £25,000 (or be in receipt of a qualifying benefit)
  3. have not completed one year or more on any full-time undergraduate programme at FHEQ level 4 or above or successfully completed 30 credits or more of OU study within the last 10 years

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 and funded places are still available.

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 discover more about your interests and where you want your learning to take you.

There are several Access modules to choose from, starting in February, May and October. They’re usually 30 weeks long, and most students study for about 8–10 hours a week.

If a fast-track option is available, you can complete your Access module in 18 weeks by increasing your study time to 16–20 hours a week. 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, 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.

Did you know?

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


If your education suffered because of your start in life, there are Access courses you can take. Don’t be scared if you don’t have A levels or even GCSE’s, I didn’t and now I’m a practising lawyer. The OU not only boosted my career prospects, it made me more confident, articulate and allowed me to change my lifestyle. I owe everything I’ve achieved in my career to the OU.
Gary SteelsBachelor of Law

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

Women in an art gallery

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.

Women studying using a laptop

Business and law

Develop an understanding of business and law while gaining confidence in academic writing and building study skills.

Women in a counselling session

Psychology, social science and wellbeing

Get an introduction to the topics that make up the social sciences. Engage with theory and real-world events to build skills and knowledge in preparation for further study.

Students in a lesson with their teacher

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.