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Introducing English language studies

Language is an essential part of being human. It's something we rely on in almost every part of our lives. Nevertheless, do we really know what it is and how it works? History, culture, politics, technological innovation, and personal experience shape our use of language. This module will create strong links between broader language issues and the language and literacies that affect you as a student. It will develop your ability to talk about language, and help you apply your understanding of language issues to your own development as a communicator. You’ll study a series of contemporary topics that investigate how people use language in everyday life, focusing on the role of English in a connected and diverse world.

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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
1 7 4

Study method

Module cost

Entry requirements

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What you will study

The module will introduce you to English language studies by highlighting how important the use and manipulation of language is in all aspects of life. It will show you how understanding the ways in which language works as a mode of communication can have profound benefits for people’s professional and personal lives. One of the major aims of the module is to take real-world issues, where language is a key element, and show you how ideas from linguistics (the academic study of language) are able to throw light on these issues and help us to resolve them where necessary. In this way, as well as being a useful starting point for academic study, the module offers a practical focus to the study of language with relevance to real life. You’ll investigate how people use language to communicate with others; and get things done at home and work, in leisure time, and in their communities and societies. Although the module draws mainly on examples and cases from the English language, it also takes a culturally diverse approach, which recognises that, for many, English exists alongside other languages and is a ‘global’ language.

The module consists of four blocks with the following themes:

Block 1: What is language?
Topics include Can robots talk?; Why study language?; Communicating in different contexts

Block 2: What is English?
Topics include English or Englishes?; Speaking English, being British; Intercultural communication

Block 3: Language and creativity
Topics include Language and humour; English and Shakespeare; Creative writing

Block 4: Language and society
Topics include English, sexism and gender, Media representations and campaigns; Fake news

Each week, you’ll spend part of your study time working through interactive activities online. You’ll watch and listen to specifically recorded material that will introduce key topics in each block. Interviews with language experts and with professionals will illustrate the connection between language issues and the real world. You’ll be able to interact with study materials, and discuss your work with your tutor and other students in order to exchange ideas and experience. Each week you’ll also be guided through short readings in print that introduce contemporary topics and relate them to ideas about language. The print and online components work together and both are essential for successful study of the module.

You will learn

This module will develop your understanding of:

  • the various roles language plays in our lives, including its important role as a marker of identity
  • the way in which our purposes for communication are fundamentally important in shaping what and how we communicate
  • the ways in which meaning is shaped by and shapes context
  • language as a meaning-making system which operates together with other modes of communication such as images
  • the practical applications of an understanding of language in use
  • the way in which English functions as one language among many in a globalised multilingual world.

Vocational relevance

This module might be of particular interest if you plan to go on to qualify as a teacher.

Outside the UK

Synchronous tutorials and communications could be difficult to deliver to students outside UK due to time differences. If you can’t attend the synchronous tutorials or make synchronous communications, you’ll have to use asynchronous alternative methods, such as watching recorded tutorials and emailing questions.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Throughout your module studies, you'll get help and support from your assigned module tutor. They'll help you by:

  • Marking your assignments (TMAs) and providing detailed feedback for you to improve.
  • Guiding you to additional learning resources.
  • Providing individual guidance, whether that's for general study skills or specific module content.
  • Facilitating online discussions between your fellow students, in the dedicated module and tutor group forums.

Module tutors also run online tutorials throughout the module. Where possible, recordings of online tutorials will be made available to students. While these tutorials won’t be compulsory for you to complete the module, you’re strongly encouraged to take part.


You can find the assessment details for this module in the facts box.

Future availability

Introducing English language studies (L101) 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 2027.


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)
No examination

Entry requirements

There are no formal entry requirements to study this module.

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

Preparatory work

In the weeks or months before you start Introducing English language studies (L101), look out for stories and news items that relate to the English language. A good place to start is television or radio news, newspapers or news websites. Collect interesting items either in hard copy in a scrap book or folder, or in the form of links pasted into a document or collected in a ‘favourites’ folder. Also look out for adverts, graffiti, shop signs etc. on public display that you can photograph and collect. These often provide good sources of interesting uses of language. If you jot down a few words explaining what each item you collect is about and where you found it, this will help you make use of these examples when you come to study L101.

Find out more about this preparatory task.

Preparing for study

If you haven’t studied for a while or are completely new to university level study, you might want to find out about Access courses, especially Y031, the Arts and Language Access module, which is a great preparation for studying L101. There’s clear evidence that studying an Access module beforehand improves your chances of completing and succeeding on your first Level 1 module. Over half of students taking OU Access modules study for free, and there’s even a fast track version of Y031 which you can complete in 18 weeks.



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 2027.

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 20/05/2024.

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, including interactive activities
  • audio and video content
  • assignment details and submission section
  • online tutorial access.

You'll also be provided with four printed module books, one for each block of study.

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 L101 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.