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The impact of storytelling in business

This course will take you on a learning journey to consider aspects of storytelling at the personal, organisational, and social levels. You’ll learn some key techniques and terminologies around considering stories normatively and critically, as well as seeing how organisations put them to work to help support their objectives. We'll show you how stories can be used as a source of competitive advantage, as well as to support individuals as they navigate the structures and conventions of society. Whatever your job role, you should find some useful insights for how storytelling can help you work more effectively, either through telling your own stories, or hearing and evaluating those of others. 

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 is divided into the following five units:

Unit 1 
The first unit looks at some of the theories of why people tell stories and introduce a critical framework for thinking about stories. We use some insights from anthropology to consider some theories about why storytelling might be important to humans.


Unit 2 
This unit leaves the realm of theory to look at some practical applications for storytelling as part of the ways we get by in social and workplace life. We introduce the unmanaged organisation, workplace gossip, and its role as social glue in work situations. 


Unit 3 
This unit will move from the storytelling you might hear in the personal sphere to introduce more formal uses for storytelling, including organisational stories and who gets to tell them. We will introduce ideas from discourse analysis as one way of analysing stories. 


Unit 4 
In this unit we use some case studies to consider the strategic aspects of storytelling. We also consider how organisations use stories to support communication and relationships with customers and other stakeholders. 


Unit 5 
The final unit offers a window on some other versions of stories we see in daily life, and how social institutions, such as medical professionals and the law, use stories to help convey legitimacy and authority in what might otherwise be difficult or confrontational situations. 

During this course you’ll watch videos that illustrate how storytelling might go on in a workplace and be able to explore the ideas in supporting text and exercises. You’ll see how an individual became a successful job applicant and started work, and how storytelling contributed here.

You will learn

 On successful completion of this course you should be able to: 

  • understand how storytelling is a fundamental part of social and working life 
  • explain what types of stories might be heard in a typical workplace and what purposes they might achieve 
  • have confidence to communicate a definition of storytelling and its purposes for individuals and social and organisational groups 
  • ​outline different sorts of stories: oral and written, formal and informal. 

Learner support

This course was designed to be independently studied with no tutor support. StudentHome is a dedicated website that provides general study support and there is a computing helpdesk.

Teaching and assessment


There is an end-of-course quiz to test your knowledge and understanding. 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 10 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 Jul 2025 - see Entry requirements for more detail £150.00

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

You’ll have access to a course website, which includes:

  • a unit-by-unit study planner
  • course-specific learning materials and exercises
  • study support
  • end of course quiz.

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 BGXS002 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.