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Object-oriented Java programming

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This module teaches the fundamental ideas behind the object-oriented approach to programming through the widely used Java programming language. Concentrating on aspects of Java that best demonstrate object-oriented principles and good practice, you’ll gain a solid basis for further study of the Java language and object-oriented software development. Some experience in writing computer programs is essential.

What you will study

In the object-oriented view of software, programs are considered collections of objects that interact using each other’s methods and results. These ideas are at the forefront of modern software development.

Throughout the module, you’ll use BlueJ, an integrated development environment (IDE) specifically developed for teaching and learning object-oriented programming. BlueJ is used worldwide and is easy to use. It emphasises on visualisation and interaction techniques providing a highly interactive environment that encourages experimentation and exploration.

The module takes an ‘objects first’ approach to teaching; you start seeing and interacting with objects from the beginning. BlueJ features allow you to learn the principles of object construction and method calling.

You’ll soon start using Java code and syntax to edit provided practical examples, such as a ticket machine, a digital clock, and a program that draws simple graphics. Initially, you’ll add minor functionality to the provided projects and experiment with their facilities.

The module continues the teaching about fundamental object-oriented ideas by investigating:

  • how to control the initial state of newly created objects
  • different kinds of variables and methods in Java
  • different kinds of data, including primitive and object types
  • inheritance hierarchies and their impact on code reuse
  • overriding methods and polymorphism
  • abstract classes and interfaces
  • file input and output.

Along the way, you’ll learn about Java structures for selection and iteration and more about some of the core Java library classes. We introduce you to ideas about writing Java code in a good style and using appropriate design, as well as about different kinds of errors you will encounter and how to deal with them.

As you go on, you’ll develop increasingly complex object-oriented projects from scratch, using the BlueJ IDE, and better understand of the more complex examples in the textbook. The skill of appropriately utilising a provided library of classes (searching for a useful class and method, for example) is explicitly developed in this context.

The last part of the module begins by investigating how data is written to and from files in Java and how objects can be made persistent by writing them to file. Both of these techniques are useful in larger-scale programs.

Entry requirements

You need to be familiar with basic programming concepts – check if you’re ready for M250, with our self-assessed quiz.

You’d normally be prepared by completing OU level 1 study as part of one of our computing and IT qualifications. For this module, we recommend that you’ve passed Introduction to computing and technology 1 (TM111) and Introduction to computing and information technology 2 (TM112); or their predecessor TU100. Alternatively, you should be familiar with two other programming languages such as Scratch and Python.

What's included

The module uses a text book (Objects First with BlueJ, by Barnes and Kölling), which will be provided in print and ebook versions. This is supplemented by a range of online materials provided on the module website including OU produced Chapter Companions, supplements, software, programming activities, student forums and a study planner.

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


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

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying M250 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

Object-oriented Java programming (M250) 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.

Course work includes:

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)

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