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Technologies in practice

This module provides an opportunity to sample some key computing and information technology areas. It introduces three topics as tasters for your future studies and career: networking, operating systems and security, and robotics. Studying these topics will enable you to develop essential skills for future employment in the computing and IT industry and better understand the different routes through our curriculum. You can also begin to explore where your future career ambitions or interests might lie.

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.

Browse qualifications in related subjects

Module

Module code

TM129

Credits

Credits

  • 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.
30

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
OU SCQF FHEQ
1 7 4

Study method

Module cost

Entry requirements

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A really useful little module - gives you tasters in networking, Linux and (perhaps the least useful) robotics which is...
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What you will study

The module is structured into three study blocks – networking, operating systems and security, and robotics.

You’ll study both OU materials and third-party materials that support your learning in the three key topics. The module is practical and activity-based, and the study material is delivered online. You’ll therefore be working at your computer for significant periods of time.

Networking essentials
This block provides a sound grounding in the basic principles of computer networks and the challenges in setting these up and maintaining them. Topics covered include protocol models and layering; IP addressing; basic network design and network devices. You’ll study online material in the Cisco Networking Academy and carry out practical activities using network simulator software.

Operating systems and security
This block introduces operating systems – the fundamental software that turns hardware into useful and useable computing systems. You’ll learn how an operating system manages the computer’s processor, memory and storage so that more than one program can run at once. You’ll be introduced to Linux, a widely used operating system that runs on small handheld devices, desktops and supercomputers. You’ll learn about operating system security and how to maintain a secure system. You’ll also carry out practical activities by running the Linux operating system along with a network simulator.

Robotics and AI
This block introduces you to robotics and the design of intelligent machines. Robots are no longer the stuff of fiction; they are found in factories, on the battlefield and in our homes. You’ll learn how robots work and how to program and control robots using simulator software. You’ll also examine the relationships between humans and robots, the impact robots will have on our lives, and the ethical issues surrounding the use of robots.

As you progress through the module, you’ll work through the various practical activities which relate to each block. This will help demonstrate your skills and understanding in the areas you have studied. This will also be a significant component of the end-of-module assessment. Working on these practical activities will help you to think about your interests and will inform decisions you need to make on your future areas of study.

You will learn

This module will enable you to:

  • increase your knowledge of computer networks, operating systems and security, and robotics
  • develop a variety of skills appropriate to a career in the computing and IT industry
  • demonstrate your understanding of technical subjects and your technical skills through the development of a portfolio.

Vocational relevance

This module has particular vocational relevance to those wishing to develop a career in the IT industry. It provides many opportunities to demonstrate relevant technical knowledge and practical IT skills.

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.

Assessment

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

Future availability

Technologies in practice (TM129) starts twice a year – in January/February and October.

This page describes the module that will start in October 2024 and February 2025.

We expect it to start for the last time in February 2026.

Regulations

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:

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


Entry requirements

This is an OU level 1 module providing you with the core subject knowledge and study skills needed for both higher education and distance learning and to help you progress to modules at OU level 2.

Technologies in practice (TM129) builds on the skills developed in key introductory modules, particularly Introduction to computing and information technology 1 (TM111). Therefore, if you intend to study both TM111 and TM129, we strongly recommend you study TM111 first.

You will need to be able to do the following on your computer:

  • use word-processing software
  • save and locate files
  • install software
  • follow basic instructions to explore your computer and complete basic computing tasks
  • access websites.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser. You can also try the Are you ready for TM129 quiz.

Register

Start End England fee Register
05 Oct 2024 Jun 2025 £1818.00

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

Register
01 Feb 2025 Sep 2025 £1818.00

Registration closes 09/01/25 (places subject to availability)

Register
This module is expected to start for the last time in February 2026.

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 29/05/2024.

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
  • 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.

Additional requirements for this module:

  • 4GB RAM (8GB recommended)
  • 40GB free disk space
  • we recommend the Chrome browser for some practical activities.

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 TM129 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.