Advance your independent learning

This innovative, personalised module offers you the flexibility of exploring in depth a topic of your choice at master’s level. The module gives you the opportunity to advance your research skills whilst investigating a specific question or topic of your interest. Your question, which you will agree with your tutor in the first few weeks of the module, may relate to your own professional context, previous study or personal interest. You will draw on a variety of resources to deepen your understanding, including Open Educational Resources (OERs), Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), scholarly articles, reports, and audio visual content.

As you conduct a thorough critical investigation, supported by your tutor and the well-structured module materials, you will be empowered to develop your own rigorously researched answer to your topic question. Your investigation can be within any subject area and may require you to venture across disciplines, to make connections as well as expand your field of knowledge, all whilst developing advanced skills in critical thinking, reflection and peer review, amongst others. Your final output could take the form of a written piece such as a report or a training programme, or could be a presentation or an audio-visual resource, whatever is best suited to your chosen audience.


Module code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
Study level
Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU postgraduate modules correspond to these frameworks.
OU Postgraduate
Study method
Distance learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

What you will study

This module follows an innovative, flexible design to allow you to explore in depth a topic of your choice. You might want to focus on a problem from your practice or professional context, or simply decide to deepen your understanding about an issue that interests you. This could be from any subject area and might require you to venture into other disciplines, allowing you to make connections and expand your field of knowledge.

Your tutor will support you in defining your question or problem, and in planning what resources you need to access to understand it better. You will develop digital and academic literacy (searching for and evaluating information, being part of online communities), and critical, analytical and reflective skills. You will practise communicating your ideas in different formats and to different audiences, and learn how to feedback constructively and use peer feedback to advance your thinking.

Through a series of assessed tasks you will plan your learning and identify relevant resources to gain a better awareness of your chosen topic. You will share your interpretations with your tutor and fellow students through assessed and peer reviewed tasks that will help you refine your understanding and begin to articulate your personal answer to your initial question. And besides the freedom to choose what you want to study, you will also be able to decide what you will be producing for your final assessment. This could be a report for your employer, an article for publication, an information video, a series of talks, a children’s book, a training programme – you just need to agree this with your tutor. You will also submit a reflection on how you have researched your topic and produced your final assessment piece, and this will help you consolidate your understanding and evidence your learning journey.

You will learn

This module will help you develop the skills needed to conduct a rigorous investigation. It will show you how to engage critically with the information available and how to produce an original and individual answer that addresses your chosen question or problem.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Your tutor will help you plan your work and think about the ideas explored in the module. Your tutor will also comment on and support you with your assessments. There will be one-to-one tutorials with your tutor and group tutorials with others, as well as opportunities to collaborate with fellow students through forum discussions and peer review activities.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box.

Examples of EMAs from previous students on the module include:

  • Exploring the use of silence in Hispanic poetry.
  • How can medieval illuminated manuscripts influence modern digital design techniques for creating pages of digital illustrations combined with writing and decorative text?
  • What factors contribute to the success of Continuous Improvement in Healthcare that could be applied in NHS Blood and Transplant transfusion service in England?
  • How does Higher Education in Britain support an inclusive learning model for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder?
  • To what extent can qualitative argumentation analysis be used to identify philosophical frameworks underpinning opposing arguments?
  • What factors influenced the decision by the FA (football association) to ban women's football in England in 1921?
  • What are the alternatives to imprisonment?
Example YXM830 project outputs are available on Open Research Online.

Course work includes

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment

Future availability

Advance your independent learning (YXM830) starts once a year – in October.

This page describes the module that will start in October 2024.

We expect it to start for the last time in October 2027.


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

You must have an undergraduate degree and be ready to pursue postgraduate study, however, if you have other study or experience that you believe equips you to take this module you can still apply, but you'll need to supply evidence of your study or experience. Your application will then be referred to the Programme Admissions Team.

This module is suitable both as an introduction to postgraduate study, or later on in your postgraduate studies, and can be a valuable opportunity to be supported whilst conducting a highly personalised investigation.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

Preparatory work

Start thinking about the topic and question you want to investigate and what your output might look like. 

An example problem could be:

  • Encouraging secondary school girls to take computing A-Level. The assessed output could be a plan of interventions and resources to use in school.

If you propose to relate your project to work that you have previously published or research that you have previously carried out at undergraduate or postgraduate level (at the OU or elsewhere), you will need to demonstrate the following:

  • how your proposal differs substantially from any previous work you have undertaken in the chosen area.
  • how the research you are doing for this module differs in scope and direction from your previous work and meets the required learning outcomes.

If you decide to delve deeper into a topic you have researched before then you must submit your previous work for review by your tutor and treat your previous work as you would any other resource by referencing any similar text or ideas appropriately.

If you propose to relate your project to your employment, the above will also apply, and you will need to discuss this with your tutor.


Start End England fee Register
05 Oct 2024 Jun 2025 £1450.00

Registration closes 12/09/24 (places subject to availability)

This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2027.

Future availability

Advance your independent learning (YXM830) starts once a year – in October.

This page describes the module that will start in October 2024.

We expect it to start for the last time in October 2027.

Additional costs

Study costs

There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as set books, a computer and internet access.

Ways to pay for this module

We know there’s a lot to think about when choosing to study, not least how much it’s going to cost and how you can pay.

That’s why we keep our fees as low as possible and offer a range of flexible payment and funding options, including a postgraduate loan, if you study this module as part of an eligible qualification. To find out more, see Fees and funding.

Study materials

What's included

You'll have access to a dedicated module website, which includes:

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • module-specific materials
  • audio and video content
  • assignment details and submission section
  • online tutorial access.

Where possible the materials are also available in other formats. Please note that the purchase of print-on-demand texts is not an option for this module.

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.

Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

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

Written transcripts of any audio components are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader. Depending on your chosen topic, some materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way, such as musical notation and mathematical, scientific, and foreign language. Other alternative formats of the module materials may be available in the future.

To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our disability support pages.

Request your prospectus

Our prospectuses help you choose your course, understand what it's like to be an OU student and register for study.

Request prospectus