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Travel writing

This online short course introduces you to the rich, dynamic and constantly developing genre of travel writing. You’ll explore how travel writing can take you on a journey as a reader to places you have visited, may intend to see, or know that you never will. You’ll understand how travel writers bring their journeys to life for their readers and learn to write about a journey of your own. You’ll explore how travel writers have charted their journeys over time and drawn inspiration from the most surprising places. You’ll learn how to find your own inspiration by reading about journeys to distant places as well as journeys closer to home and consider how you don’t have to go very far at all to travel. Throughout the course, you’ll encounter pioneering travellers such as Dervla Murphy, who travelled from Ireland to India by bicycle, and Monisha Rajesh, who travelled 45,000 miles around the world by train. Closer to home, you’ll discover writers like Raynor Winn and Simon Armitage, whose journey was to walk the South West Coast Path in the South of England. Ultimately, you’ll understand how a good travel book can transport you to different lands, times and cultures, all from the comfort of your own home and from this you’ll start to write about your own journey.

Standalone study only

This module is available for standalone study only. Any credits from this module cannot be counted towards an OU qualification.


Module code




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

Study method

Module cost

Entry requirements

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What you will study

You’ll read and reflect on the work of some of the greatest travel writers who were pioneers in the genre as well as contemporary travel writers who are changing the way we think and write about travel. Most importantly, you’ll learn that travel doesn’t have to be about travelling to far-flung destinations, travel can also be about travelling close to home.

Throughout the course, you’ll listen to audio interviews with travel experts and watch videos which have been created especially for the course, all of which will enhance your experience of learning about travel writing and inspire you to create your own.

Week 1 introduces you to the genre of travel writing and gives you a little history and context on how it has evolved over the centuries.

Weeks 2 and 3 introduce you to influential early travel writers such as Bruce Chatwin and Jan Morris, as well as contemporary writers like Monisha Rajesh and Andrea Lee. You’ll think about why you might want to write about travel and consider the inspirations behind journeys – journeys that are close to home such as Raynor Winn’s The Salt Path or further afield like Bruce Chatwin’s In Patagonia to help you find your own inspiration. You’ll also be introduced to the actor and presenter Richard E. Grant exploring Granada, Spain through the work of the poet Federico Garcia Lorca and learn what makes travel writing so distinctive as a genre of writing. In these two weeks, you’ll make a good start on writing about a journey of your own.

Weeks 4 and 5 will help you to develop that piece of writing. You’ll learn from the techniques taught in the study of creative writing, how to make your travel writing distinctive, and how to use language to connect with your reader. You’ll look at how to write about: the setting of your travel writing, the characters you meet on your journey, and how to create a point of view so that you can tell your story in your own way. You’ll look at the work of writers such as Alys Fowler, Johnny Pitts and Jini Reddy amongst others. In Week 5, you’ll start to consider how reading fiction can help you to develop techniques in travel writing and consider Robert Harris’s novel Pompeii alongside other travel writers’ accounts of Vesuvius and Pompeii.

In Week 6, you’ll bring all these elements together and look at some further examples from fiction where travel is central to the story. This will help you to develop your travel writing. You’ll hear again from the leading travel writer, Monisha Rajesh, about the practicalities of travel writing and will leave the course with some tips on where to go from here.

You will learn

Knowledge and understanding

You will have some understanding of:

  • the history of travel writing (as opposed to travel journalism which is not being taught in this course)
  • the tradition of travel writing through ‘reading as a writer’, engaging critically with examples of travel writing and responding to them creatively through writing
  • travel writing as part of the overall craft of writing.

Cognitive skills

You will have learned:

  • how to apply the basic approaches of creative writing to the specific genre of travel writing
  • how the genre is relevant to issues of ethical, social, and public concern
  • to develop your critical skills, through building confidence in analysing published work.

Key skills

You will have:

  • developed some research skills
  • enhanced your skills in writing with fluency, clarity and precision
  • started to create a piece of travel writing which you can complete after the course.

Vocational relevance

This course has relevance for those interested in becoming professional writers as well as those interested in working in the literary industries.

Learner support

There is no tuition on this course and all study is self-directed. However, a Study Advisor is present to facilitate discussion within the online forums.

If you have a disability

The course is delivered online and makes use of a variety of online resources. If you use specialist hardware or software to assist you in using a computer or the internet you are advised to contact us about support which can be given to meet your needs.


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.

Entry requirements

There are no entry requirements for this course.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the course, please contact us.

Course length

You’ll study for around 8 hours per week for 6 weeks. In total, this course will require around 50 hours to complete.


Start End England fee Register
04 May 2024 Jun 2024 £125.00

Registration closes 18/04/24 (places subject to availability)

05 Oct 2024 Nov 2024 Not yet available

Registration opens on 06/06/24

01 Feb 2025 Mar 2025 Not yet available

Registration opens on 18/07/24

This module is expected to start for the last time in February 2027.

Ways to pay

Credit/Debit Card – We accept American Express, Mastercard, Visa and Visa Electron.

Sponsorship – If this course is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could ask your employer to sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. Your sponsor just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.

The fee information provided here is valid for short courses starting in the 2024/25 academic year. Fees typically increase annually. For further information about the University's fee policy, visit our Fee Rules.

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

All of this course’s study materials are online. Online materials are composed of pages of text with images, interactive activities, audio/video clips (with transcripts). Some online materials may also include links to external resources, and the Course-wide forum.

Printed materials are not provided for the course content. However, you are able to access the web pages in alternative formats (PDF, Word for screen readers, ebook) from the Downloads area on the course website and print them for your studies, if you wish. You are also able to download all course audio tracks and videos from this area. You will find further useful documents available in Word or PDF format in the Resources area of the course website.

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.

Our module websites comply with web standards and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

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.