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Developing subject knowledge for the primary years

In this module you will develop your knowledge, skills and understanding of supporting children’s learning by developing your knowledge in mathematics, language & literacy, science and computing & ICT. You’ll examine the curriculum in different settings; explore the factors that affect children’s learning and examine how the role of subject knowledge varies over time and across nations.

You’ll develop skills including evaluating and communicating information effectively to others and using a range of digital technologies effectively for study, online collaboration and to support your continuing professional development. You will identify strengths and areas for development; seek and learn from feedback and critically reflect on your own subject knowledge and attitudes.

Modules count towards OU qualifications

OU qualifications are modular in structure; the credits from this undergraduate module could count towards a certificate of higher education, diploma of higher education, foundation degree or honours degree.

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Module 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.

Study level

Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU module levels correspond to these frameworks.
Level of Study
2 8 5

Study method

Module cost

Entry requirements

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What you will study

At the beginning of the module, you will audit your subject knowledge in maths, science, language and literacy. You will take steps throughout the module to improve your knowledge in these areas, as well as in computing and ICT. Three module readers and dedicated online forums, moderated by subject-specialists, will support your subject knowledge development.

The module is structured around five themes:

  • subject knowledge and curriculum 
  • maths
  • English
  • science
  • computing and ICT

This is a practice-focused module because as you develop your own subject knowledge, you will maintain a focus on supporting children’s learning in schools and early years settings. This module supports the professional development of practitioners, but it is also appropriate if you do not work or volunteer in school on a regular basis. If you do not have regular access to a setting, it is recommended that you arrange to be in school for at least two days per block (a minimum of 10 days). During this time you will observe policy and practice in relation to supporting children’s learning, interview teachers and carry out activities with children.

A wide range of interview and observational audio-visual and written resources are included in the study materials. They focus on practitioner perspectives and practice as well as children’s learning. Throughout the module you will draw on these resources as well as on any personal experiences you have of supporting children in primary education settings.

You will learn

By the end of the module you will have developed your subject knowledge in the essential curriculum areas of maths, language and literacy, science and computing & ICT and your understanding of:
  • how your subject knowledge supports children’s learning
  • issues, theories and research that underpin practice in supporting children’s learning in the essential curriculum areas
  • the principles that underlie primary curriculum frameworks.
You will also have demonstrated:
  • sound knowledge and critical understanding of relevant theory that underpins good practice in supporting children’s learning
  • cognitive and key skills appropriate to study at undergraduate OU level 2 (SCQF Level 8).

Vocational relevance

This module is relevant to you if you:
  • are a member of support staff or a volunteer who wants to develop your practice in your current role in school
  • want to work towards a qualification that will support you to achieve qualified teacher status, regardless of whether or not you currently work in a school
  • are interested in a range of other roles related to primary education.
  • are interested in extending your own subject knowledge
  • have an interest in children’s transitions.

If you are thinking about training to be a teacher please see our booklet Becoming a teacher.

Outside the UK

This module will be suitable if you are based outside of the UK, but if you are not already working or volunteering in school on a regular basis we recommend you arrange opportunities to spend some time during the module in a formal educational setting for children aged 3-12 (for example in a voluntary capacity) to observe teaching and learning and gain exposure to a practice context.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You'll have a tutor who will give you advice and guidance on the study requirements and will mark and comment on your written work. Your tutor is particularly concerned with helping you with your study methods and providing feedback on your assignments. All group tutorials will be online at points throughout the module. These will be supplemented by a smaller online tutor group forum where you'll gain support from your peers and tutor.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box.

Future availability

Developing subject knowledge for the primary years (E209) starts once a year – in October.

This page describes the module that will start in October 2024.

We expect it to start for the last time in October 2025.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

Course work includes:

4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment

Entry requirements

There are no formal academic or experiential requirements to study this module.

However, we strongly advise you to arrange a placement in an education setting1 for children aged between 3 and 12 (that follows a formal primary phase curriculum) – for example a school – for at least 10 days to observe learning and teaching and gain exposure to a practice context.

If you’re not sure you’re ready, talk to an adviser.

1Access to settings will require you to meet the ‘fit person’ criteria, in your country, to work with children. You and your setting are responsible for ensuring you meet these requirements, not the OU.


Start End England fee Register
05 Oct 2024 Jun 2025 £3636.00

Registration closes 05/09/24 (places subject to availability)

This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2025.

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 receive a qualifying benefit, you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after your module has started.

Ways to pay for this module

Open University Student Budget Account

The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments.

You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

  • Register now, pay later – OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
  • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your monthly fee and number of instalments based on the cost of the module you are studying. APR 5.1% representative.

Joint loan applications

If you feel you would be unable to obtain an OUSBA loan on your own due to credit history or affordability issues, OUSBA offers the option to apply for a joint loan application with a third party. For example, your husband, wife, partner, parent, sibling or friend. In such cases, OUSBA will be required to carry out additional affordability checks separately and/or collectively for both joint applicants who will be jointly and severally liable for loan repayments.

As additional affordability checks are required when processing joint loan applications, unfortunately, an instant decision cannot be given. On average the processing time for a joint loan application is five working days from receipt of the required documentation.

Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).

Employer sponsorship

Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU courses are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to complete. They also value the skills that students learn and can apply in the workplace.

More than one in ten OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the module you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could approach your employer to see if they will sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. 

  • Your employer just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.
  • You won’t need to get your employer to complete the form until after you’ve chosen your module.  

Credit/debit card

You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. 

We accept American Express, Mastercard, Visa and Visa Electron. 

Mixed payments

We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. For example, you may wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Account (OUSBA).

Please note: your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and, therefore, the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fee information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2025. Fees typically increase annually. For further information about the University's fee policy, visit our Fee Rules

This information was provided on 19/04/2024.

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.

What's included

Three printed subject readers (for English, mathematics and science subject knowledge), also available as ebooks; all other study material is provided online via the module website which includes:

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • course-specific module materials
  • audio and video content
  • assignment details and submission section
  • online tutorial access.

Computing requirements

You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11) or macOS Ventura or higher.

Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop, as described above.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying E209 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our disability support pages.