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An introduction to artificial intelligence

This online short course is for anyone interested in engaging with the latest issues surrounding the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI). You'll critically examines the historical, ethical and social issues around this technology within society, and you’ll hear from a range of voices on how to address these issues, from activists and experts to technology corporations, NGOs and government. Your study materials will include audio, video and text, and you’ll have access to a dedicated website, forum and learning advisers. While there is no formal assessment, quizzes in each unit will help you to test your knowledge.

After successfully completing this short course, you’ll receive a digital badge. This can be shared on social media, added to email signatures or act as a certificate.

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 four blocks; there is a natural progression through the blocks, from providing a background to introducing risks and strategies for mitigating these risks, then examples of how to use these strategies for real-world applications, before a final look at how technology such as how AI shapes the world of work.

You’ll learn about the following:

Block 1: Setting the scene for AI technology
An introduction to the historical, social and ethical context of AI technology (Units 1 & 2)

Block 2: The risks of AI technology
An outline of the risks of AI technology and what can be done to respond to such risks (Units 3 & 4)

Block 3: Exploration of case studies
A series of case studies in which you will explore where AI technology has gone wrong as well as where it has gone right (Units 5, 6 & 7)

Block 4: AI and the workplace of the future
In this final block, you will consider AI technology and how it may shape, and perhaps already is shaping, the workplace of the future (Unit 8)

You will have opportunities at the end of each unit to test your knowledge via quizzes. After successfully completing this short course, you will receive a digital badge.

Please note that although this course is non-accredited, it can be used towards the module Making your learning count (YXM130) to gain OU credits.

You will learn

By the end of this course, you will:

  • be able to formulate your own definition of AI
  • have described the major historical, social, political and economic issues in AI
  • have critically evaluated primary source information on these issues
  • be able to formulate your own responses to these issues, driven by fact-based critical research
  • be able to identify key features of risks in AI projects
  • be able to use these key features to flag risks in a project involving a variety of types of data.

Learner support

The course is taught entirely online, with the aid of a learning adviser to offer support where needed. You will have access to online forums that you are strongly encouraged to participate in, as they are an excellent source of support and information. These forums combine peer support with input from the specialist learning adviser(s). Other support is available via the StudentHome website and computing helpdesk.

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 LG003 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can 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

The course is made up of 8 units, with each unit expected to take about 4-5 hours to study. In total, you’ll need around 40 hours to complete the course.

You can begin at any time during the life of the course and study at your own pace. The course will be open to you for a time period of between 6 and 18 months depending on your course registration date and you will be advised of the specific time limitations upon enrolment.


Start End England fee Register
At anytime before registration end date Jun 2025 - see Entry requirements for more detail £195.00

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 not more 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 are delivered entirely online and there is no formal tuition for this course.

Your study is self-directed and you’ll have access to a course website, which includes:

  • a unit-by-unit study planner
  • course-specific materials and activities
  • audio and video content
  • discussion forums and a course forum
  • support from specialist learning advisers.

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.