This certificate of higher education has one stage comprising 120 credits. You’ll begin with a 60-credit introductory social sciences module and complete your certificate with a choice of one from three 60-credit modules.
You'll start with a broad introduction to the social sciences. You can then study social science in more detail, including some of the important theories and methods that help social scientists understand how individuals and society interact. Alternatively, you can explore key issues in criminology or psychology.
We recommend Investigating psychology 1 (DE100) if you're considering further studies in psychology as part of our diploma or degree in social sciences; Introduction to criminology (DD105) if you're considering further studies in criminology or sociology; and Investigating the social world (DD103) if you're considering further studies in sociology or any other routes through our social sciences qualifications.
We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 15 March 2022.
We make all our qualifications as accessible as possible and have a comprehensive range of services to support all our students. The Certificate of Higher Education in Social Sciences uses a variety of study materials and has the following elements:
- studying a mixture of printed and online material – online learning resources may include websites, audio/video media clips, and interactive activities such as online quizzes
- face-to-face tutorials/day schools/workshops and/or online tutorials
- finding external/third party material online
- continuous and end-of-module assessment in the form of essays, short answer questions, and in some cases an examination
- using feedback: continuous assessment involves receiving detailed feedback on your work from your tutor and using this feedback to improve your performance
- engagement with learning and assessment within a pre-determined schedule or timetable – time management will be needed during your studies and the University will help you to develop these skills.
For more detailed information, see the Accessibility Statements on individual module descriptions. If you feel you may need additional support, visit Disability support to find more about what we offer.
Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment
This qualification develops your learning in four main areas:
- Knowledge and understanding
- Cognitive skills
- Practical and professional skills
- Key skills
The level and depth of your learning gradually increases as you work through the qualification. You’ll be supported throughout by the OU’s unique style of teaching and assessment – which includes a personal tutor to guide and comment on your work; top quality course texts; elearning resources like podcasts, interactive media and online materials; tutorial groups and community forums.
Read the detailed learning outcomes here
If you’ve already completed some study at another university, you may be able to count it towards your Open University qualification – reducing the number of modules you need to study.
You should apply for credit transfer before you register, at least 4 weeks before the registration closing date. Just tell us what you studied, where and when, and we’ll compare this against the learning outcomes for your chosen course.
For more details and an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.
On successfully completing this course, we’ll award you our Certificate of Higher Education in Social Sciences.
If you intend to use your Open University qualifications to seek work or undertake further study outside the UK, we recommend checking whether your intended qualification will meet local requirements for your chosen career. Find out more about international recognition of Open University qualifications.
As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the qualification-specific regulations below and the academic regulations that are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.
There are no formal entry requirements for this qualification.
At The Open University we believe education should be open to all, so we provide a high-quality university education to anyone who wishes to realise their ambitions and fulfil their potential.
Even though there are no entry requirements, there are some skills that you'll need to succeed. If you're not quite ready for OU study we can guide you to resources that prepare you, many of which are free.
Answer a few quick questions to check whether you're ready for study success
Preparing for study with an Access module
Students who start their study with an Access module are more likely to be successful when they advance to Stage 1 of their qualification. They’re specially designed to give you a gentle introduction to OU study, boost confidence in your study skills, and help you gain a broad overview of your chosen subject area.
You’ll also benefit from:
- feedback from your tutor through regular one-to-one phone tutorials
- support from a dedicated team throughout your study
- detailed written feedback on your work.
The Access module we’d recommend studying in preparation for this qualification is our:
People, work and society Access module
What you will study
This multidisciplinary module provides an excellent introduction to studying with The Open University; you'll get to cover a wide range of subject areas, including childhood and youth studies, social science, psychology, health, business and law.
View full details of People, work and society Access module
Psychology, social science and wellbeing Access module
Skills for career development
Employers in all fields place a high value on people who can select from and analyse a large amount of complex information, and then make logical and concise use of it. Many of the transferable skills you will acquire by studying this certificate translate well into the workplace. These include:
- clarity of written communication
- critical thinking and analysis
- concise presentation of arguments
- understanding the connection between theories and evidence
- problem solving; time management
- use of critical feedback to improve work
- basic numerical skills.
This course opens up employment opportunities across a whole range of occupations in the public, private and voluntary sectors. These include national and local government, health and social welfare, police, education, charitable organisations, public relations, media, planning and environmental management, the criminal justice system, market research, law, business and commerce. The Certificate of Higher Education in Social Sciences is equivalent to the first year of a full-time degree. It’s a valuable qualification in its own right, but if you’d like to continue studying, you’ll have a sound foundation on which to build. For example, you could progress to the Diploma of Higher Education in Social Sciences (W68) and then to the BA (Hons) Social Sciences (R23), or another of our social sciences degrees.
Exploring your options
Once you register with us (and for up to three years after you finish your studies), you’ll have full access to our careers service for a wide range of information and advice. This includes online forums, website, interview simulation, vacancy service as well as the option to email or speak to a careers adviser. Some areas of the careers service website are available for you to see now, including help with looking for and applying for jobs. You can also read more general information about how OU study enhances your career.
In the meantime if you want to do some research around this qualification and where it might take you, we’ve put together a list of relevant job titles as a starting point. Some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience):
- social worker
- advertising planner
- marketing executive
- human resources manager
- retail manager
- occupational psychologist
- television broadcaster
- charity campaigner
- civil servant.