Postgraduate qualifications

Alongside our range of masters degrees, we offer postgraduate certificates and diplomas. Many of these can be stepping stones  towards your masters degree, or you might prefer to study them as valuable postgraduate qualifications in their own right. Your options are open.

What can I study with the OU?

From modules to masters degrees, find out what we offer and what each level of qualification offers you:

Masters degrees

  • Opens doors to specific careers or job progression.
  • Excellent preparation for those thinking of taking a research degree, such as a PhD.

Postgraduate diplomas

  • Boost your career or start a new one.
  • Deepen your knowledge and skills in a specific subject area.

Postgraduate certificates

  • A valuable postgraduate qualification.
  • The first step if you’re looking to study to masters-degree level.

Standalone postgraduate modules

  • Study a topic area you’re personally or professionally interested in.
  • Combine modules towards an OU qualification, or just study the modules you’re interested in.

If you want to know more about the unique aspects of each type of postgraduate qualification, visit our course types page.

How are postgraduate qualifications structured?

Modules are the building blocks for all our qualifications.

Each module is worth between 15–120 credits. You’ll need to build up credits to claim your qualification.

Because OU study is modular, you build up your qualification as you go. Like stepping-stones, some postgraduate certificates and diplomas allow you to advance from one to the next, eventually leading up to a masters degree.

Postgraduate certificate

Postgraduate diploma

Masters degree

60 postgraduate credits

120 postgraduate credits

180 postgraduate credits



Our qualification descriptions detail the available study routes you can follow and allow you to explore the modules you can count towards them. To find your postgraduate qualification, visit our A–Z of postgraduate courses or use the course search box below.

How long will it take to complete a qualification?

Most of our postgraduate qualifications are part-time study only, so you’ll usually study approximately 60 credits each year.

Postgraduate certificate

(60 credits)

1 year


Postgraduate diploma

(120 credits)

2 years

Masters degree

(180 credits)

3 years


The table above gives you an idea of how long it typically takes to complete a postgraduate qualification – check individual qualification descriptions for the most accurate information.

Study time

Making sure you’ve got enough time to study is crucial to being successful at postgraduate level.

The time you’ll need to set aside will also depend on how many credits you’re studying at any given time.

On average, we’d recommend:

  • 30 credits – 8–10 hours’ study per week
  • 60 credits – 16–20 hours’ study per week
  • 90 credits – 24–30 hours’ study per week
  • 120 credits – 16–25 hours’ study per week (as our 120-credit modules are 12–15 months in duration, the study you’ll need to do each week is roughly equivalent to taking a 60-credit module).

The recommended hours include time to work through that week’s online study planner, complete recommended reading, engage with consolidation activities, and attend tutorials. Any additional reading around the subject may need time above and beyond. Our qualification and module descriptions will tell you more.


Have you studied before?

If you’ve previously studied at postgraduate level, you might be able to count it towards your OU qualification. This can cut down the modules you need to study, saving you time and money.

Find out more about postgraduate credit transfer


Just do it. Don't wait. Take that first step and do that first module. And use it as a stepping stone to the next one and to the next. In what will seem like no time at all, you'll have your degree.

Jackie Manning, BSc Technology (Hons), Master of Laws