For your Diploma of Higher Education Open you can:
- study a broad ranges of subjects; or
- specialise in one subject area, and pick from a wide range of subjects to complete your qualification; or
- specialise in two subjects, dividing your time equally between both.
You’ll start Stage 1 with 60 credits from a wide choice of introductory modules. This can include Making your learning count (YXM130), a 30-credit module which gives you the chance to count study from a variety of subjects towards your qualification. All introductory modules are worth 30 or 60 credits, and have been carefully selected to develop your subject knowledge and study skills in preparation for further OU study.
To complete this stage, you’ll choose a further 60 credits from a wider selection of our other Stage 1 modules. Many students focus broadly on one discipline, such as science or the humanities – but there’s nothing to stop you studying modules from entirely different subject areas.
Having completed Stage 1, you may have formed some ideas about the direction you want to follow – if so, you can start to focus on one or two subject areas and explore some of the topics you will have encountered at Stage 1 in more depth. Equally, you can continue to be inspired by different subjects, especially if you have previous knowledge or experience. Either way, after you've completed the 120 credits of study required for Stage 2, you’ll have essential analytical and critical thinking skills, and key transferable skills that are highly valued in the workplace. You’ll also be well prepared for further study should you decide to aim for a degree.
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 14 March 2023.
We make all our qualifications as accessible as possible and have a comprehensive range of services to support all our students. The Diploma of Higher Education Open uses a variety of study materials and may have the following elements, depending on the modules you choose to study:
- 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
- working with specialist reading material such as works of art and musical manuscripts
- 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
- using specialist software (for example the Sibelius music writing package)
- using an online Laboratory or Design/Engineering Studio
- some modules may require you to attend a residential school.
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.
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 Open.
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.
There are no formal entry requirements for this qualification.
At The Open University we believe education should be open to all, so we provide a high-quality university education to anyone who wishes to realise their ambitions and fulfil their potential.
Even though there are no entry requirements, there are some skills that you'll need to succeed. If you're not quite ready for OU study we can guide you to resources that prepare you, many of which are free.
Answer a few quick questions to check whether you're ready for study success
Planning your module choices
You’ll begin your Diploma of Higher Education Open with one of a range of introductory modules which will provide you with a foundation in your chosen subject(s) and help develop general study skills. You may want to focus on one subject – such as science or the humanities – but there's nothing to stop you from studying modules from entirely different areas.
For certain subject areas - such as biology, economics, or psychology - you may need to include specific modules at Stage 1 or have completed previous study so that you’re prepared for Stage 2. For the following subject areas, we also have online tools that will help you decide if you’re ready:
We’ll help you choose the right module at the right stage, contact us to speak to an adviser or read the individual module descriptions for more details.
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 either:
Arts and languages Access module
What you will study
This multidisciplinary module is an ideal starting point if you have little or no previous knowledge of the arts, humanities and languages. It's perfect preparation for your study with The Open University as you'll develop both your subject knowledge and your study skills. From the perspective of its central theme, ‘popular protest’, it explores a range of subjects, including art history, English, English language studies, history, and popular music, all through its central theme of ‘popular protest’. The module also offers an opportunity to explore other subjects, such as modern languages, classical studies, religious studies and creative writing.
View full details of Arts and languages Access module
People, work and society Access module
What you will study
This multidisciplinary module provides an excellent introduction to studying with The Open University; you'll get to cover a wide range of subject areas, including childhood and youth studies, social science, psychology, health, business and law.
View full details of People, work and society Access module
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
Psychology, social science and wellbeing Access module
Skills for career development
86% of graduate employers are interested in abilities rather than specific subjects studied, and the Diploma of Higher Education Open is an ideal way to showcase your abilities across a broad range of skills and get ahead in today’s highly competitive job market.
The employers we work with know that diversity of knowledge brings great strength, and OU students are highly respected. They’re regularly described as ‘self-starters’, ‘adaptable’, ‘diverse’, ‘determined’ and ‘ambitious’. An Open qualification on your CV shows not only your knowledge about a subject but also highlights to current or future employers that you are flexible and agile, having studied across a range of subjects.
By studying our Diploma of Higher Education Open, you can develop a diverse range of transferable skills, expertise, and capabilities, including:
- Initiative, self-management and resilience
- Commercial awareness
- Digital literacy
The flexibility of our Diploma of Higher Education Open makes it relevant to a wide range of careers and industries. It can help you to develop in your existing employment or be a passport to a whole new career. Its flexibility particularly suits people with multi-faceted work roles; and anyone needing to develop their skills, knowledge and understanding to manage changes in their current job or future career path.
Exploring your options
When you complete your degree, our experienced careers team in the Careers and Employability Service can help you present your Diploma of Higher Education Open to employers, including:
- explaining how you achieved your desired qualification
- how to present the valuable skills it has given you
- highlighting the subjects studied by including your module choices in CVs and applications.
For up to three years after you finish your studies, you’ll have full access to The Open University’s Careers and Employability Services for a wide range of information, advice and guidance. This includes online forums, a website, AI interview simulation, our vacancy service as well as the option to email or have a phone or video consultation to a Careers Consultant.
Some areas of the Careers and Employability Services 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. Once you are a registered student you will also be able to access the information on the Open Programme’s Qualification site.
You can also visit the graduate careers website Prospects for hundreds of job ideas.