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Tutors and assessment

Throughout your studies your expert tutors will support your learning, facilitate online discussion, mark your assignments, and offer constructive feedback to help you achieve your potential.

Learn about the support our tutors will offer you and the different types of postgraduate assessment.

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Postgraduate tutor support

If you’ve studied at undergraduate level previously, you’ll be well accustomed to the invaluable support tutors provide through tuition, feedback and general support. While postgraduate study tends to be a little less ‘hands on’, you’ll still be assigned a tutor for each module that you study.

You can rest assured that you’ll get only the best teaching and academic advice from our tutors. Alongside providing expert tuition, many of them are also employed in other academic or industry roles, allowing them to draw from the latest industry advancements.

Your tutor will:

  • Mark your assignments (TMAs) and provide detailed feedback.
  • Suggest learning resources to help improve your work.
  • Provide individual guidance, whether that’s for general study skills, or if you’re stuck on a topic.

Your tutor should always be the first person you speak to if you need academic advice or guidance. They’re there to work with you and understand the specific challenges you’re facing.


  • Tutorials will be set up by module tutors.
  • They could be online, face-to-face*, or a mixture of the two.
  • Some online tutorials may be recorded for you to watch later – your tutor will be able to tell you more about accessing recorded tutorials.
  • Most tutorials will be one or two hours long.
  • You can choose to attend module tutorials or not. We’d recommend attending where you can, but they’re not compulsory to pass our modules.

For online tutorials, we recommend students use a headset/headphones with a microphone. It makes it easier to listen and join in.

Other module events

You may be invited to attend additional learning events, such as day schools or field trips to museums or art galleries.*

Some of our modules also include residential schools where you’ll get the opportunity to develop your practical skills and meet other students. The module description will tell you if they’re compulsory or not.


Assignments throughout your study give you the opportunity to showcase what you’ve learned and build a foundation to improve on.

Explore the different types of assignment we use at the OU in the sections below.

  • You’ll usually have a number of these throughout each module.
  • Each one can be an essay, a series of questions, a skills test, a speaking assignment or something else relevant to your studies.
  • They’ll each have a submission deadline.
  • When your tutor returns them, they’ll provide you with detailed feedback on where you can improve.
  • These are the final, marked piece of work on some modules.
  • They may be similar to TMAs you’ve done, but will usually be a longer piece of work.
  • They’ll usually cover the whole module rather than a part of it.
  • Your EMA/emTMA deadline will always be fixed.
  • If your module has an EMA or emTMA, you normally won’t have an exam as well.
  • On some masters degrees, you’ll end your studies with a dissertation.
  • Dissertations are often between 10,000 and 15,000 words and will be based on a project, or work you’ve done throughout your masters studies.
  • They present an opportunity for you to focus on a specific area of your studies you particularly enjoy.
  • Your dissertation will usually be completed to a professional standard, and some students have later sought publication of their dissertation work.
  • Exams are the final assessed task on some modules.
  • Your exam date will be fixed, and you’ll need to attend one of our allocated exam centres in the UK or Europe.*
  • If you live outside the UK/EU you’ll need to talk to us about arranging an alternative exam centre elsewhere. You’ll need to do this shortly after you start your studies and may have to pay a fee.
  • If you can’t attend an exam centre due to your disability or other serious circumstances, we may be able to arrange an exam at your home or another location. There are strict criteria for approving these.
  • If your module has an exam, you won’t normally have an EMA as well.
  • Only a few modules have a residential school. Some residential schools will be compulsory – you’ll need to attend to pass the module. Others will be optional.
  • The module description will tell you if it includes a residential school.
  • If you have any concerns about attending a residential school, we’d recommend you talk to us before your module starts.

*All exams due to take place before 31 December 2022 will be delivered as remote exams. This means you will not be required to attend an exam centre but will instead take your exam remotely (e.g. at home).

As part of our ongoing response to the coronavirus pandemic, we don’t expect to be able to offer face-to-face tuition on modules beginning before 31 August 2021. For any face-to-face events we’re unable to offer, online alternatives will be provided instead. Please check individual courses and modules for more information.


The course was so stimulating and fascinating, I decided to turn my dissertation into the basis for a book, and it's now been published. At the very top of my Acknowledgements page I spoke of my gratitude to my tutor, Dr William Sheehan, who inspired me to write the book.

Frances Diana Warr, BSc (Hons) Open, BA (Hons) Open, MA History