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Leading, managing, caring

This module is designed to appeal to anyone with an interest in caring services in a modern, complex and demanding world. From service users and informal carers, to social workers and clinicians, if people don’t work effectively together the quality of services will be undermined. Rooted in the foundations of a caring approach to leadership and management, this module provides tools and insight to understand your role in relation to others. Whether you are managing a large team of people or simply trying to ensure good quality care for yourself or a loved one, this module will help you achieve the best outcomes.

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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

Whatever your relationship with health and social care services, the way you act and react in situations, and the way you relate to other people you meet, has a huge impact on how any service is delivered and experienced. Perhaps you already work in a health or social care setting, maybe you provide informal care for a family member, or maybe you’re a regular user of health or social care services yourself and just want to learn more about your experiences and how to shape them. The more you understand about how the health and social care system operates, and why people behave as they do within it, the easier it will be to navigate it and get the best outcomes for all concerned.

Leading, managing, caring (K318) guides you through the basic foundations of a caring approach to leadership and management. It provides you with the tools and insight to understand your role in relation to others, and what you can do to help achieve the best outcomes for all involved.

This module is designed to appeal to anyone with an interest in how we can maintain caring services in a modern, complex and demanding world. It provides an overview of the organisational, legal and policy contexts within which services operate, focusing on the challenges and opportunities faced by people across health and social care. Throughout the module you will apply your learning to real life examples, drawn from the case studies provided and your own personal experiences. This is particularly useful for those wishing to pursue a career in management and leadership, while the knowledge and skills you'll develop are equally valuable to anyone who uses services and wants to develop a better understand of the system and the human relationships within it.

This module will help you get to grips with the constantly changing nature of health and social care provision, improve your knowledge, develop skills and help in understanding what makes behaviours enhance, or undermine, good quality service experiences for everyone. Throughout, you will explore case studies, policies and strategies relevant to your own context or areas of personal interest. As a result you'll develop a broad understanding of the challenges and opportunities of managing, leading and caring in health and social care, and be able to reflect on your own personal skills and abilities for working with others to contribute to positive care service experiences and outcomes.

From your first week of study you will have the opportunity to work with a variety of carefully selected ‘tools’ – including self-assessment inventories, decision making tools, change management models, stress management frameworks and goal setting techniques. By the end of the module you will have compiled your own personal ‘toolkit’ for effective working with others which you can take with you to apply in any context, and will serve as a useful future resource for personal and professional development.

There are 4 blocks of study exploring the key areas of concern for leading, managing and caring:

Block 1: Approaching care
You'll start by exploring your own relationship with care, managing and leading. We all have to care for people or things in our daily lives and we are all at one time or another on the receiving end of care from others; we all encounter ‘management’ in our daily lives; and we are exposed to a variety of leaders trying to convince us to follow their vision. The first block gets you to reflect on this and to think about your own capacity to manage and lead others, even if you have no formal leadership or managing experience.

Block 2: Caring relationships
In the second block you'll explore how theoretical understanding can support practical attempts to provide effective care, and work through complex situations with a variety of people. You will reflect on how your own approach to leading and managing others influences the relationships you have, not just at work but in wider everyday experiences as well.

Block 3: Creating a caring environment
Next you'll move from focusing on relationships between people, to relationships between people and their environments. Drawing on real life examples you will consider the impact of organisational and political contexts on service experiences in health and social care. You will think about what we can do – either as providers or receivers of those services – to make them more effective.

Block 4: Ethics, quality and care
Having considered the practical context within which services exist, in the final block you'll reflect on the ethical context of health and social care practice. This will involve reflecting on personal values and ethical practice, legislative requirements around safeguarding, and the value of learning from experience.

Each block of study ends with a guided enquiry where you are provided with a case study scenario, some background context, and a set of tasks to complete. Working either alone or in collaboration with other students these activities provide perfect opportunities for you to apply your new knowledge and skills in a safe environment with the support of your tutor and your fellow students.

Vocational relevance

Leading, managing, caring (K318) is designed for anyone who would like to learn more about management and leadership in health and social care. It is particularly relevant to any existing or aspiring managers or potential leaders looking to develop their career and employability.

If you're resident in Scotland, the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) have approved this module (K318) as an acceptable award for all parts of the SSSC register, excepting managers in day care of children services.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Throughout the module you will be supported by a personal tutor. This support can take a variety of forms and include the use of several modes of contact to best suit your needs. You will also be strongly encouraged to engage in group learning with your fellow students through collaborative activities and tutor hosted online learning sessions. You will also be provided with written feedback on your TMA submissions that is designed to guide your future TMA submissions as you progress through the module.

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

Leading, managing, caring (K318) 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 2028.


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

You are not required to have completed any study in this area before, but you should consider that this is a Stage 3 module. OU Stage 3 modules build on study skills and subject knowledge acquired from studies at Stages 1 and 2. They are intended only for students who have recent experience of higher education in a related subject, preferably with the OU.

Our module Introducing health and social care (K102) would be ideal preparation for those new to the field of health and social care. Although K318 does build upon the use of ICT skills developed in earlier stages, there is the opportunity in the introductory weeks to quickly develop the necessary skills if you do not already have them.

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


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 2028.

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 17/06/2024.

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

You’ll have access to a module website, which includes:

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • course-specific module materials
  • audio and video content
  • the K318 toolkit
  • quizzes, assignment details and submission section
  • online tutorial access.

You'll also receive a print copy of the module textbook, which will also be available to read online, and you will have access to relevant published research which will be available through the Open University library’s online resources.

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 K318 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.