This certificate of higher education has one stage, comprising 120 credits.
You’ll be introduced to the study of health and social care, together with underpinning knowledge, understanding and skills. You’ll consider care in a variety of settings, alongside work-based study of the factors influencing health in different service user groups. There is a strong focus on person-centred, compassionate care and the development of practice-based skills to meet patient/client needs.
We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 15 March 2022.
We make all our qualifications as accessible as possible and have a comprehensive range of services to support all our students. The Certificate of Higher Education in Healthcare Practice uses a variety of study materials and has the following elements:
- studying a mixture of printed and online material – online learning resources may include websites, audio/video media clips, and interactive activities such as online quizzes
- using mathematical and biological expressions, notations and associated techniques
- working in a group with other students
- using and/or producing diagrams and/or screenshots
- undertaking practical work (patient/client care)
- finding external/third party material online
- continuous and end-of-module assessment in the form of essays, short answer questions, and in some cases an examination
- using feedback: continuous assessment involves receiving detailed feedback on your work from your tutor and using this feedback to improve your performance.
In addition to the above, the regulatory body for the nursing programme (the NMC) has guidance on health and disability relating to fitness for professional practice.
For more detailed information, see the Accessibility Statements on individual module descriptions. If you feel you may need additional support, visit Disability support to find more about what we offer.
Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment
This qualification develops your learning in four main areas:
- Knowledge and understanding
- Cognitive skills
- Practical and professional skills
- Key skills
The level and depth of your learning gradually increases as you work through the qualification. You’ll be supported throughout by the OU’s unique style of teaching and assessment – which includes a personal tutor to guide and comment on your work; top quality course texts; elearning resources like podcasts, interactive media and online materials; tutorial groups and community forums.
Read the detailed learning outcomes here
If you have already studied at university level, you may be able to count it towards your Open University qualification – which could save you time and money by reducing the number of modules you need to study. At the OU we call this credit transfer.
It’s not just university study that can be considered, you can also transfer study from a wide range of professional or vocational qualifications such as HNCs and HNDs.
You should apply for credit transfer before you register, at least 4 weeks before the registration closing date. We will need to know what you studied, where and when and you will need to provide evidence of your previous study.
For more details of when you will need to apply by and to download an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.
On successfully completing this course, we’ll award you our Certificate of Higher Education in Healthcare Practice.
If you intend to use your Open University qualifications to seek work or undertake further study outside the UK, we recommend checking whether your intended qualification will meet local requirements for your chosen career. Find out more about international recognition of Open University qualifications.
As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the qualification-specific regulations below and the academic regulations that are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.
To study our Certificate of Higher Education in Healthcare Practice, you’ll need to:
- work in a healthcare setting for a minimum of two days per week
- remain in employment while studying towards this certificate
- be involved in the direct delivery of care or providing interventions for patients/clients
- provide confirmation of your employer’s support for your studies1
- have a workplace supervisor qualified in the same area of practice to support and assess your work-based learning1
- have access to a computer and the internet.
1You must have the support of your employer for the work-based module Introduction to healthcare practice (K104). This includes your employer providing supervision by a registered nurse for the 770 practice hours needed to complete the module. Read the Guidance for employers and supervisors or see the module description for more details.
Please note you cannot apply online for this qualification – for more information about how to register, employers and individuals should contact us.
Preparing for study with an Access module
Students who start their study with an Access module are more likely to be successful when they advance to Stage 1 of their qualification. They’re specially designed to give you a gentle introduction to OU study, boost confidence in your study skills, and help you gain a broad overview of your chosen subject area.
You’ll also benefit from:
- feedback from your tutor through regular one-to-one phone tutorials
- support from a dedicated team throughout your study
- detailed written feedback on your work.
The Access module we’d recommend studying in preparation for this qualification is either:
People, work and society Access module
What you will study
This multidisciplinary module provides an excellent introduction to studying with The Open University; you'll get to cover a wide range of subject areas, including childhood and youth studies, social science, psychology, health, business and law.
View full details of People, work and society Access module
Psychology, social science and wellbeing Access module
Skills for career development
The certificate builds key employability skills in areas such as communication, IT, problem-solving, planning and organisation. It also prepares you for further academic study.
Although this certificate provides no guarantee of promotion in the workplace, it is designed as the first step to prepare healthcare support workers for the role of assistant/associate practitioner. Your employer is required to provide a workplace supervisor/mentor who will support and assess you in the workplace.
Following completion of this qualification, you may wish to pursue further study opportunities leading to, for example, our BSc (Honours) Nursing. The Certificate of Higher Education in Healthcare Practice allows access to Stage 2 of this degree, subject to successful selection and meeting the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s (NMC) minimum entry requirements.
Exploring your options
Once you register with us (and for up to three years after you finish your studies), you’ll have full access to our careers service for a wide range of information and advice – including online forums, website, interview simulation, vacancy service as well as the option to email or speak to a careers adviser. Some areas of the careers service website are available for you to see now, including help with looking for and applying for jobs. You can also read more general information about how OU study enhances your career.
In the meantime if you want to do some research around this qualification and where it might take you, we’ve put together a list of relevant job titles as a starting point (note that most careers will require further study, training and/or work experience):
- Adult nurse
- Mental health nurse
- Social worker
- Health promotion specialist
- Advice worker
- Practice manager
- Child protection officer
- Youth worker
- Probation officer
- Community development worker
- Care home manager
- Health services manager
- Child protection officer.