Tutors and assessment

Many of our tutors combine their academic or industry roles to bring their real-world expertise to supporting your learning facilitating online discussions, marking your assignments, and offering constructive feedback to help you achieve your potential. 

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

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 usually take place online and will be set up by module tutors.
  • 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.

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. If your module has an exam, you won’t normally have an EMA as well.
  • Your exam date will be fixed.
  • Exams will normally take place remotely, and you will complete them at home or at an alternative location. If a module requires you to take a face-to-face exam, this will be made clear in the module description.
  • If your personal circumstances or disability are likely to have an impact on your ability to take your exam remotely, we may be able to put additional arrangements in place or make reasonable adjustments. This would need to be discussed with your Student Support Team.
  • 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.

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