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Spanish studies 3: language and culture of the Spanish-speaking world

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This module follows on from an OU level 2 Spanish module. It further develops your knowledge and understanding of Spanish-speaking societies and extends your language competence. The interactive online study materials are based around text, audio and video resources, including interviews and documentaries. You engage in critical analysis, develop academic writing, research and presentation skills and are introduced to the concept of linguistic and cultural mediation. The six module themes provide both broad and focused coverage of historical and contemporary aspects of Spanish-speaking societies which you are encouraged to discuss with your fellow students in tutorials and forums.

What you will study

All of the materials for this module are delivered online via the module website.

Each of the six units studied covers different aspects of the language and cultures of the Spanish-speaking world. You will have the opportunity to reflect on and expand your current knowledge and skills in oral and written Spanish and learn advanced grammar, lexical, pragmatical and discursive features of Spanish whilst exploring a range of topics.

The units in detail are:

Unit 1: Unidad y diversidad
Explore the history of Spanish, its dialects and the other languages spoken in the regions of the world where Spanish is an official language. In parallel, you'll reflect on the importance of diversity and multiculturalism as intrinsic elements to the existing cultures in the countries where Spanish is spoken. Reading a selection of poems and other literary texts from different historical periods will also help you appreciate the evolution of Spanish over time.

Unit 2: Ciencia y tecnología
In this unit, you learn about the work of scientists and scientific institutions in countries where Spanish is spoken, evaluate the impact of scientific advances on the Earth and the environment, see the universe through the Gran Telescopio Canarias, discover the formidable volcanoes of America and how technological innovations, including using artificial intelligence (AI), can help us to live in harmony with nature. You'll also cover the literary side of the sciences: science fiction.

Unit 3: Historia y política 
Embark on expeditions that changed the course of history, such as the first circumnavigation of the world, and examine how, in some cases, the objectives and methods used in these voyages are interpreted differently if they are observed from a current perspective. Observe, through a variety of examples from the Spanish-speaking world, how the so-called 'fake news' are not new and have existed across history; you will reflect on how history is written and learn about why some important historical events remain untold. The intersection between history and literature is also explored.

Unit 4: Migración e identidad
Witness population movements and migratory processes that have affected the Spanish-speaking world, sometimes as a place of origin, in other cases as a place of reception for migrants, such as emigration of Mexicans to the United States, of sub-Saharans to Spain, of Central Americans to Mexico, and reflect on how these processes influence the identities of migrants based on the testimonies of some of them, including interviews and literary works.

Unit 5: Arte
Enjoy literature in Spanish and learn more about key authors and new literary expressions in Spanish that appear on social networks; delve into the plastic arts and admire the buildings of Madrid and some of the most famous works painted by artists from the Spanish-speaking world; listen to a selection of music and explore the cinema and theatre in Spanish; discuss the relationship between humour, art and society.

Unit 6: Economía y negocios
Be inspired by the ideas of several entrepreneurs who have managed to move their businesses forward, with effort and dedication; learn about the great commercial alliances of Latin America; browse around traditional shops in Madrid and Chile; discover how a Spanish company works from the inside and reflect on fair trade and ethical trade.

You will be working on text and audio-visual material through completing a wide range of online activities, which are designed to deepen your understanding of the module topics and develop your confidence in communicating in Spanish. Throughout the module you will progressively develop your academic skills, leading up to a small-scale project at the end. All materials are interactive and encourage your participation; they also allow you to evaluate your progress regularly and provide you with strategies to further develop your skills as an independent language learner. With your fellow students, you can engage jointly in forums and, in unit 4, you will take part in an interactive cross-languages discussion task.

This module is designed to enable you to achieve a level of language proficiency equivalent to level C1 of the Council of Europe Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

Entry requirements

This is an OU level 3 module for students who have successfully completed an OU level 2 Spanish module or who already have an equivalent knowledge of Spanish.

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

Preparatory work

If you have time before the module begins, we suggest that you continue to use your Spanish in any way you can. You could do this by: redoing some of the activities in your OU level 2 module; watching and listening to the audio and video materials from your OU level 2 Spanish module; reading Spanish newspapers; accessing resources such as online editions of newspapers, magazines and books, internet radio and television; or borrowing Spanish books and films from the local library. Anything you can do to keep practising your Spanish will help you to prepare yourself for the start of the module.

What's included

You'll have access to a module website, which is the focal point of your study, and includes:

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • course-specific module materials
  • audio and video content
  • assessment details and submission section
  • online tutorial access
  • access to forums where you can communicate with your tutor and fellow students.

You will need

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials and to take part in your interactive assignment, you’ll need a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

You will also need to have access to a suitable Spanish dictionary, either in print or online, for example, the Dictionary of the Spanish language - https://dle.rae.es/

You will be working with the following grammar book, which you can access electronically through the library, or you may have a printed copy if you have previously studied L226.

  • Beaven, T., C. Garrido and S. Scrivener. 2018. Exacto. A Practical Guide to Spanish Grammar. Third Edition. London: Routledge.

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.

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 you. While these tutorials won’t be compulsory for you to complete the module, you're strongly encouraged to take part.

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.

One TMA is an interactive speaking assignment which will be carried out by your tutor online.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying L336 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

Spanish studies 3: language and culture of the Spanish-speaking world (L336) 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 2031.

Course work includes:

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