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Our curriculum

The University offers a wide range of highly respected qualifications, made up of undergraduate certificates, diplomas, foundation degrees, open and named degrees, as well as postgraduate certificates, diplomas and degrees.

Most of our undergraduate modules do not have formal entry requirements. For almost all postgraduate study, students require an undergraduate degree.

Access modules

Most students in prison begin their OU studies with an Access module. These introductory-level modules have been designed to help new students find out what it’s like to study with the University, get a taste of a subject area, develop study skills and build confidence. They’re perfect for learners with little or no experience of higher education and use the same top-quality teaching materials and study support as other OU modules. For students in England and Wales, more details are available in the Steps to Success booklet.

Undergraduate study

New students in prisons and secure units are required to select a qualification from the following guide: The Open University A Guide for Learners in Secure Environments 2023/24.

This guide lists the modules and qualifications that can be studied by students in prison and secure units who do not have access to the internet.

There may be changes to delivery formats in future years that may make some of these modules inaccessible in certain prisons. We therefore strongly advise that you check the latest situation with the Regional Manager for your prison before students register.

Module information sheets

Module information sheets are available for prison education managers, occupational therapists and information, advice and careers staff. These set out the practical elements of our modules that need to be considered before agreeing to support a student’s OU study. For more information please contact us or visit the Enrolment/ Registration Process page.

Permission to study

England and Wales

A prospective student in prison cannot apply directly to the OU but must have the permission of the prison governor or his/her representative to study their chosen module. Some modules may not be practical to study while in prison, for instance if internet access is required. Module choice is at the discretion of the prison where the student resides.


We work with the Scottish Prison Service to deliver education to prisoners resident in Scotland.  Administrative arrangements are set out in the Higher Education Access Scheme (HEAS).

Prospective students in prison do not apply directly to the OU but must have the approval of the prison learning centre and the governor before submitting an application to the Higher Education Access Board (HEAB) for approval. The board meets in June to consider applications for the coming academic year, so applications must be received by mid-May.

OU study has completely changed me as a person. As well as being more knowledgeable about social issues, I am much more confident and optimistic about the future.

Tony, HMP Wymott