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Communication skills in the digital world

This course will take you through a range of the changes in the field of communication in our ever-evolving digital world. The course details a variety of communication tools and practical advice from both professionals and academics to help individuals in society and at work understand how to help shape communications strategically. 

Standalone study only

You will not be awarded credits for studying this course. It is available for standalone study only and cannot be counted towards an OU qualification.

Short course

Short course code



This is a non-credit bearing course.

Study method

Short course cost

Entry requirements

What you will study

The course comprises of eight units: 

Unit 1: Digital communications, marketing and the individual
The opening theme is communications tools changing over time. We'll consider the five phases of digital communication and how they affect consumers before switching to how you might make the most of digital communications from the perspective of an individual in the world of work. This unit raises complexities and challenges of surviving and thriving in a digital society and explore associated trends affecting people.


Unit 2: Brand communication through individuals
We'll now look at digital communications from the organisational perspective, from carefully planned marketing online to having to react to two-way digital communications. We’ll also look at the implications for organisations having a face to represent their brand and the rise of professional digital communicators as influencers in our hyperconnected world.


Unit 3: Professional communicators
In this first of two units on activities undertaken by professional communicators, we will focus on several jobs as case studies to demonstrate challenges and changes in a digital world, including the work of professional negotiators and how this has changed. 


Unit 4: Communicating through counselling
We will continue to highlight the work of professional communicators, looking at the work of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and hear from a counsellor about how digitisation has offered challenges and opportunities in her role. We’ll also use video to understand how counselling can be undertaken online so you can explore the complexities of project communication interactions between the virtual world and the material one of people and places. 


Unit 5: Strategic communications
We will look at strategic-level communications in a digital world, using a model to help us organise our ideas. The five tenets of strategic communication will help us explore message design, platform, timing, audience issues and planning and measuring impact. We'll look at how these factors interact with organisational stakeholders to help you analyse how to get the best from communications planning and organisation.


Unit 6: Making communications work
We will consider how the theories of communication might work in practice, using a series of mini case studies and video examples to unpack supply chain, customer, employee, and external relations in turn. They will help you understand the benefits of holistic approaches to communication for organisations.


Unit 7: Public sphere of digital communications
This unit considers communication in the public sphere and how technologies are blurring traditional boundaries and what we know – or think we know – about communication activities in public life. 


Unit 8: Bringing communication together
We turn to the practical part of the theories we have studied in unit 7 and use case studies to explore how online interactions were seen as a game changer in the election of Donald Trump in the US in 2016. 

You will learn

By studying this course you'll have the ability to:

  • examine how digital communications are offering challenges and opportunities
  • consider how digital communications have changed relationships and recognise the implications they have on brands and branding
  • analyse how different job roles are being impacted and developed by new digital communications practices
  • consider how to apply negotiation and active listening skills to your own practice
  • apply the principles of effective strategic communications and consider the benefits
  • consider the practicalities involved in strategic communication Identify the impact of new communication platforms on public life
  • recognise how new ways of gaining data have influenced and continue to influence major events around the world.

Learner support

Expert, confidential learner support is available when you need it from a learning adviser, who will respond to you directly. Other support is available via the course forum, dedicated website and computing helpdesk.

Practice-based assignment

There is a practice-based assignment (PBA) which you complete at the end of the course to demonstrate how you have applied, or are intending to apply, the theories and models you have learnt. Once completed and successfully passed you will receive a digital badge and a course completion certificate which you can download as a record of your learning.


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 formal academic requirements.

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

Course length

The course will require around 20 hours to complete.

You can begin at any time during the life of the course and study at your own pace.


Start End England fee Register
At anytime before registration end date Jan 2025 - see Entry requirements for more detail £250.00

Registration closes 31/07/2024


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 learning materials, exercises, study support and practice-based assignment are delivered entirely online. 

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.

Functionality may be limited on mobile devices. For example, voice recorder activities, which are common in language short courses, may not work on iOS/Apple devices.

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 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.

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying BGXC006 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.