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Exploring practice

Do you regularly find yourself asking questions of your work setting? Have you ever reflected on how effective aspects of your practice provision are? Exploring practice enables you to examine in detail a project theme pertinent to your practice. This unique opportunity promotes development of personal and professional learning in evidence-based practice and culminates in detailed action planning, exploring implications for change and improvements in practice. This online module is readily accessible to busy practitioners through its learning and teaching strategies which seek to facilitate and support your exploration of practice. It is open to an inter-professional audience, including youth justice workers, nurses and allied health professionals and social workers.

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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
3 10 6

Study method

Module cost

Entry requirements

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What you will study

This module is about developing your ability to negotiate, plan and undertake a work-based project, and is designed to build on experience and develop practice. It will develop your confidence and competence as a practitioner, enabling you to assess evidence and draw appropriately on findings. You will learn how to handle uncertainty and change and throughout the module you will relate learning to practice. The module is relevant to youth justice, social work, nursing and the allied health professions. To complete the module successfully you need recent relevant work experience in a field of health, social care or social work. For example, this might be in the capacity as a volunteer – contact us for further advice.

This module provides you with the skills needed to work independently and to interrogate critically the evidence of your practice in terms of knowledge and change creation. It provides you with the opportunity to demonstrate your learning within the workplace through an independent learning journey culminating in a written project of 7000 words.

The module will allow you to explore an area of your practice that requires improvement, you will ‘scope’ this through professional discussion and review of current published research literature. You will not be required to conduct primary research or implement any changes in practice within the scope of the module but will be asked to produce a plan about ‘how’ you would implement these changes in the future as part of the final module assessment.  

You will develop the following key skills on this module:

  • ability to learn in new and unfamiliar situations from differing sources and experiences
  • appreciation of multiple perspectives and their effect on decision making
  • ability to manage complexity and critically analyse, synthesise and evaluate new information in the context of its use
  • ability to use information literacy, ICT tools and numeracy skills as appropriate to find, evaluate, process, present and communicate information
  • ability to frame and address issues appropriate to your work, being aware of their context and environment
  • independently plan, monitor, evaluate and improve your own learning and performance.

The central learning resource for this online module is its website. You will use it to plan and conduct your studies via the interactive learning guide. This guide, coupled with the online calendar, will provide the ‘road maps’ for the progression of your project. You’ll be directed to online tools that are provided to support your project development, and collaboration with your peers will form an essential component of your learning journey.

Vocational relevance

This module will have relevance for your practice and practice setting. You will need to engage in professional discussions in the workplace and explore research literature on your chosen topic. While this module does not provide you with a registered qualification, you will be able to use it towards your continuing professional development (CPD) and in some cases it may meet your professional CPD requirements – please check with your professional body. This module also has relevance in your workplace and may form part of your professional development within your organisation.

Outside the UK

If you work in a health and social care setting outside the UK, this module may be suitable given that it is about the development of independent learning within a health and social care work setting, although your project will need to have relevance to the UK. You will need to be in a practice setting and have a line manager to negotiate your work-based project. This module is delivered and assessed in English.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You’ll be supported by an OU tutor who will offer online tutorials on a tutor group basis and later in the module, on a one to one basis . They will offer support via other methods such as email. You’ll engage with your tutor group through online group discussions facilitated by your tutor. Your tutor will provide individualised support in preparation for and feedback on your assignments via the tutor group forum, assignment feedback, online group tutorials, online one to one tutorials (later in the module) and other methods such as email.

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 above.

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system. The TMAs are summative and contribute towards your final assessment score; your tutor will provide you with feedback relevant to the progression of your independent project. These assignments are compulsory as they provide valuable feedback on your progress toward the EMA. The end-of-module assessment (EMA) is a 7000-word project report, which is submitted online through the eTMA system.

Future availability

Exploring practice starts once a year – in October.

This page describes the module starting in October 2023, the last time we expect it to start.


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
    No residential school

    Entry requirements

    This is an OU level 3 module. OU level 3 modules build on study skills and subject knowledge acquired from studies at OU levels 1 and 2 and challenge you with advanced topics at undergraduate level. They are equivalent to the final year of an honours degree. These modules are also suitable if you already have a degree and want to update your knowledge. 

    Some study at OU level 2 would put you in a strong position to enjoy this module and rise to its challenges. Its academic content has a direct bearing on practice, so you should have relevant experience to draw on to complete the module activities and assessment. 

    If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.


    Start End England fee Register
    07 Oct 2023 Jun 2024 £3462.00

    Registration closes 07/09/23 (places subject to availability)

    October 2023 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.

    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 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 2024. Fees normally increase annually. For further information about the University's fee policy, visit our Fee Rules

    This information was provided on 10/06/2023.

    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.

    What's included

    This module is delivered entirely online, and you’ll have access to a 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.

    All the module teaching and library resources are available online through the website. These are available in alternative formats for download if required.

    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 (11 'Big Sur' 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 K316 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 website.