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Introduction to European crime fiction

If you enjoy reading crime fiction and have an interest in authors and books from different European countries, writing from 1945 to the present, this course is for you. The course will introduce you to different ways of looking at crime fiction texts, which you can apply to writers you already know, as well as introducing you to European authors from different countries and periods with whom you may not be familiar. After completion, you'll receive a digital badge that can be shared on social media, added to email signatures or used 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

This course is divided into the following five units:

In Unit 1, you’ll reflect on what crime fiction is, why it is such a rich literary genre. You’ll discover its development in Europe since 1945 and consider how knowing the history of the continent can inform our reading of crime fiction; and how, conversely, crime fiction can give us insights into history.

Unit 2 explores crime fiction writing in the post-1945 period in France and Britain. You’ll consider a historical overview of the development of the polar, the French crime novel and reflect on some of the techniques used by a number of important authors.

In Unit 3 you’ll explore crime fiction writing in the post-1945 period in Sweden, Italy and Germany. These three nations offer interesting contrasts in their relation to the genre.

In Unit 4, you’ll reflect on the issues involved in adapting crime fiction novels to other media, such as film, television, radio and theatre, as well as considering the linguistic and cultural challenges of translation between languages and cultures.

Finally, in Unit 5, you’ll consolidate your learning from the first four units, drawing conclusions and applying the knowledge and skills you have acquired. This will be done through a series of activities that use the knowledge and skills you’ve acquired to take on a number of productive roles – detective, author, adaptor, translator and critic.

You will learn

After completing the course, you will be able to: 

  • consider different ways of looking at crime fiction texts
  • review your understanding of the development of European crime fiction in the post-1945 period
  • analyse in detail the writing of a number of French, British, Swedish, Italian and German authors
  • investigate the challenges of transferring crime fiction stories to other media, such as television and film
  • reflect on the issues raised by the translation of crime fiction into other languages
  • put yourself in the role of the crime fiction author, adaptor, translator and critic.

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 LG008 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 five units, with each unit expected to take about 4-5 hours to study. In total, you’ll need around 20-25 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 £99.00

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 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.