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Analytical thinking for problem solving

This course will help you develop the problem-solving skills needed to contribute effectively in many organisational settings. By improving your analytical and problem-solving skills this will help you to promote a solutions-focused culture within your organisation by instigating, demonstrating, and sustaining evidence-based approaches to work-related problems.

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 promotes a human-centred approach based on user insights, the development of ideas and the generation of a range of appropriate solutions. By using structured methods in a fast changing and often complex world and involving others you increase the probability of a shared success that is owned by everyone and achieved together. The methods promoted in the course are likely to be relevant in all organisational areas as analytical and problem-solving skills are highly transferable. 

Before diving into the content, read through the course overview section which introduces you, provides an overview of the key content in the units and explains how to get the most out of this course. 

Unit 1: Analytical thinking 
This unit will enable you to understand: 

  • what analytical thinking involves
  • how Fermi questions can be a helpful approach to generate estimates
  • how and when to use a SWOT analysis
  • how and when to use a PESTLE analysis. 

Unit 2: Defining a problem statement
This unit will enable you to: 

  • understand the importance of a clear and succinct problem statement.
  • articulate a problem statement.
  • understand the value of posing questions to help distil your problem statement. 
  • recognise the steps that take you from a problem statement to potential solutions. 

Unit 3: Analytical thinking and problem-solving techniques
This unit will enable you to: 

  • understand a range of problem-solving techniques
  • select which one is likely to be the most useful in specific circumstances
  • apply these techniques to real-life examples you have chosen. 

Unit 4: Human factors in analytical thinking and problem-solving
This unit will enable you to: 

  • understand why it’s important to take account of human factors
  • identify some of the key implications of human factors
  • take action to avoid inadvertent biases that could affect your analytical thinking and problem-solving. 

You will learn

 By completing this course you will learn to: 

  • use analytical thinking to scope a work-based problem.
  • identify useful sources of data
  • understand how to generate and evaluate a range of potential solutions to a problem
  • use appropriate problem-solving techniques
  • engage with colleagues to apply problem-solving techniques
  • effect on key learning and applications to your professional practice. 

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 BGXS003 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.