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Teaching and research

The Open University has an astonishing track-record of using new and emerging technologies to make higher education available to all people around the world.

Martha Lane-Fox
Chancellor of The Open University
Read more about Martha

Charting the Future: OU's Teaching and Learning Plan 2022-27

The Teaching and Learning Plan 2022-27 stands as a testament to OU's commitment to elevating the standards of supported open learning. Designed to be strategic and effective, this Plan consolidates the best of our teaching and learning practices, ensuring they're not just retained but broadened across the entire university. Both our staff and students stand to gain from this institutional knowledge-sharing.

Distilled into five guiding principles, the Plan is both a roadmap and a reference. It ensures that all activities, innovations, and initiatives in the teaching and learning sectors of our university are cohesive and synergistic. This alignment doesn't just stay limited to our Faculties; it intersects with the overarching strategic ambitions of the university.

The collaborative effort that went into crafting this Plan spanned two years, written by Associate Deans across all faculties. Its public introduction in September 2022 wasn't just an institutional milestone but a marker for the educational sector.

Read the Plan in full by visiting our The Teaching and Learning pages or read more on this page which expands on our model of delivery.

Supported open learning

The OU teaches through its own unique method of distance learning, called ‘supported open learning’, which is:

  • Flexible – students work where and when they choose to fit in with jobs, families and other commitments
  • All-inclusive – students get all the high quality materials they need to study
  • Supportive – personal tutors provide academic expertise, guidance and feedback and run group tutorials; and specialist advisers are on hand to help with other aspects of OU study
  • Social – students get together at tutorials, day schools and informal study groups; and through online conferencing, study networks and course forums.

More about the OU study experience

Course production

Our modules are developed by multi-disciplinary course teams comprising:

  • Academics, educational technologists and media specialists contributing pedagogic and technical expertise
  • Respected academics from other universities working alongside OU colleagues
  • External examiners.

This model has helped to build the University's reputation for innovation, rigour and quality and has been adopted by distance teaching institutions worldwide.

Research and scholarship

Open University courses are underpinned by research of international excellence and are subject to rigorous external scrutiny. In addition, a world-leading programme of research into teaching strategies and educational technologies ensures that our materials are effective and appropriate for large-scale open learning.

Visit The Open University's research website

Tutorial support

The OU has a network of more than 5,000 tutors – the largest in the UK. Tutors mark assignments, provide detailed written feedback, and offer support to students by telephone, email, or computer conferencing. They also run group or online tutorials and day schools. Some are full-time members of staff, but most are associate lecturers: experts in their subject who combine their work as tutors with other academic or industry jobs.


Students are assessed through tutor-marked and computer-marked assignments, oral or practical assessments, projects, examinations, dissertations and portfolios. External examining ensures that we maintain academic standards and provides an independent view of the assessment process.

Learn more about our teaching and research