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Foundation Degree in Engineering

This foundation degree combines academic skills with the needs of your workplace. Boost your career if you’re working in an engineering-related job at a technical level. Build on your existing skills and experience to support your professional development plans. You’ll apply the study of engineering fundamentals to the solution of real-life problems. Topics include design, electronics, energy, manufacturing, materials, mechanics and structural analysis. It also develops your maths skills, which are key to successful study of engineering.

Key features of the course

  • Tackle real-life problems by applying your study of engineering fundamentals.
  • Develop your maths skills, key to the successful study of engineering.
  • Build on your existing skills and experience with two work-related modules.
  • Gain a solid foundation for further study, with the option to top up to an honours degree.

A nationally recognised qualification in its own right, this foundation degree is also equivalent to the first two-thirds of an honours degree – see the Top-up Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (Q78) for more information.

Course Summary

+Shortlist Course

Foundation Degree

Foundation Degree

  • Widely recognised qualification.
  • Enhance your professional and technical knowledge and skills.
  • Equivalent to the first two thirds of an honours degree.
  • Use it to support your current role or progress your career.
  • Combine work-based learning with academic study – you need to be employed or volunteering in a relevant work setting.
  • Top up to an honours degree in just two years.

We offer most of our foundation degrees as diplomas of higher education for students living or working in Scotland.

Course code


  • 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.
How long it takes
Part time – 4–6 years
Full time – 3 years (Stage 1 can be studied only part time; Stage 2 can be studied full time.)
Time limit – 9 years
Study method
Distance learning

Course details

This foundation degree has two stages, each comprising 120 credits.

  • In Stage 1 you’ll study four 30-credit core engineering modules – the last of which focuses on your work in engineering.
  • Next, in Stage 2, you’ll study two further 30-credit core engineering modules, followed by a 30-credit optional module and a final work-related module.

Prepare for OU study with an Access module

We offer two starting points depending on how confident you are or how long it’s been since you last studied. Choose to dive straight in at Stage 1, or if you’d prefer some extra preparation, you can get started with an optional Access module. See Entry requirements for more details.

Stage 1 (120 credits)

You’ll begin by studying the extraordinary breadth of contemporary engineering, exploring design, materials, mechanics and engineering practice, including case studies. Essential mathematics teaching is incorporated and applied to engineering problems throughout. You’ll complete Stage 1 with a work-related module which gives you a chance to focus on the sector in which you work by looking at aspects of how your organisation functions. You’ll also take the first steps to gaining professional engineering status by developing a personal development plan.

Stage 2 (120 credits)

At Stage 2 you’ll deepen your understanding of how engineers find solutions for technical problems, with two 30-credit core engineering modules. You’ll also choose a 30-credit module from options in energy and sustainability; electronics; design for engineers; environmental management; mathematical methods; or mechanics. You’ll complete Stage 2 with another 30-credit work-related module, in which you’ll study project management and execution, looking at the processes of change and strategies for effectively managing change.
You'll study both of the following:
Core engineering A (T271)30
Core engineering B (T272)30
You'll choose one from:
Design for engineers (T218)30
Electronics: sensing, logic and actuation (T212)30
Energy and sustainability (T213)30
Environmental management: systems and sustainability (T220) – planned for October 202230
Mathematical methods (MST224)30
Mechanical engineering: heat and flow (T229)30
You'll study the following:
Change, strategy and projects at work (T227)30

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 10 September 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 Engineering uses a variety of study materials and has the following elements:

  • studying a mixture of printed and online material – online learning resources may include websites, audio/video media clips, and interactive activities such as online quizzes and remote experiments
  • 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 producing diagrams or screenshots
  • practical work
  • working with specialist reading material
  • finding external/third party material online
  • using specialist software (for example the Open Engineering Studio, EduPack, ANSYS)
  • 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 throughout your degree

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

Credit transfer

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.

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 completion

On successfully completing this course, we’ll award you our Foundation Degree in Engineering.

International recognition

If you intend to use your Open University qualifications to seek work or undertake further study outside the UK, we recommend checking whether your intended qualification will meet local requirements for your chosen career. Find out more about international recognition of Open University qualifications.


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. 

Compare this course

Entry requirements

There are no formal entry requirements, but you must be in engineering-related employment.

You’ll also need some knowledge of mathematics, an interest in technology, and the ability to read and write to a good standard of English. Check you have the necessary skills at

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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

How much will it cost in England?

We believe cost shouldn’t be a barrier to achieving your potential. That’s why we work hard to keep the cost of study as low as possible and have a wide range of flexible ways to pay to help spread, or even reduce, the cost.

  • Fees are paid on a module-by-module basis – you won't have to pay for the whole of your qualification up front.
  • A qualification comprises a series of modules, each with an individual fee. Added together, they give you the total cost.
  • Most OU students study part time at a rate of 60 credits a year.
  • Our current fee for 60 credits is £3,168*.
  • Our current fee for 120 credits, which is equivalent to a year's full-time study, is £6,336*.
  • At current prices, the total cost of your qualification would be £12,672*.
  • .

*The fee information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2022. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees.

Additional costs

Study costs

There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as set books, a computer and internet access.

If your income is not more than £25,000 or you are in receipt of a qualifying benefit, you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after you start studying.

Skills for career development

There are many occupations in which engineering knowledge and skills are highly valued, and often essential. This foundation degree will help you develop and demonstrate a sound grasp of engineering and mathematical principles, the ability to apply them, and an awareness of surrounding issues. It includes two work-related modules which guide you through activities and projects closely linked to your workplace. There’s a strong focus on personal development planning, and you’ll be well prepared for further study should you wish to progress to an honours degree.

Career relevance

Whatever field of engineering you currently work in, this course will enhance your career prospects. Qualified engineers are much in demand for their rigorous approach to problem solving and high level of numeracy and opportunities also exist in related areas such as research, design and development, commissioning, project management, technical sales and marketing, technical journalism and patent work.


Engineering Council accredited degree logo

This degree has been accredited by the professional institution(s) below under licence from the UK regulator, the Engineering Council. Accreditation is a mark of assurance that the degree meets the standards set by the Engineering Council in the UK Standard for Professional Engineering Competence (UK-SPEC). An accredited degree will provide you with some or all of the underpinning knowledge, understanding and skills for eventual registration as an Incorporated (IEng) or Chartered Engineer (CEng). Some employers recruit preferentially from accredited degrees, and an accredited degree is likely to be recognised by other countries that are signatories to international accords.

IED logo

Accredited by the Institution of Engineering Designers (IED) on behalf of the Engineering Council for the purposes of fully meeting the academic requirement for registration as an Incorporated Engineer when combined with an approved qualification such as our Top-up Bachelor of Engineering (Q78).

IET logo

Accredited by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) on behalf of the Engineering Council for the purposes of fully meeting the academic requirement for registration as an Incorporated Engineer when combined with our Top-up Bachelor of Engineering (Q78).

IOM logo

Accredited by the Institute of Materials, Minerals & Mining (IOM3) on behalf of the Engineering Council for the purposes of fully meeting the academic requirement for registration as an Incorporated Engineer when combined with our Top-up Bachelor of Engineering (Q78).

IMechE logo
Accredited by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) on behalf of the Engineering Council for the purposes of fully meeting the academic requirement for registration as a Incorporated Engineer when combined with our Top-up Bachelor of Engineering (Q78).

Other careers

This qualification will also help you develop a wide range of transferable skills, including information handling and numeracy, IT and communication, analysing and solving problems, team working, planning and organising. These skills open up a wide range of other career opportunities – for example in management or finance – as well as in engineering itself.

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 website are available to see at any time, 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):

  • mechanical engineer
  • electronic engineer
  • structural engineer
  • production engineer
  • biomedical engineer
  • environmental engineer
  • materials engineer
  • other roles within engineering management
  • manufacturing engineer

Register for this course

Start dates
Credit transfer: apply by 10/02/2022

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