The Open University is the largest university in the UK in terms of number of students. This is because it’s primarily a distance learning university. The overwhelming majority of the students study off campus and across the world. For that reason, OU is a perfect option if you want to take a part-time course alongside work or just for fun. But, the most important question is, is the open university free? That’s where I come in. Here are some answers to some of the biggest questions surrounding The Open University. 

Open University Free Courses

Open University Free courses
Source: OpenLearn

While there is an option to study a regular degree as you would at other campus-based universities, the Open University also has a number of free courses. They cover a wide range of subjects, from Health, Sports & Psychology to History & The Arts to Money & Business. Within these subjects, there is a wide range of options of courses. Some at an introductory level, some at an intermediate level and some at an advanced level. Plus, the courses cover a wide time spectrum, with courses that have between 1 and 84 hours worth of content, so there will be a course that’s perfect for you no matter how much time you have.

Open University Grading

The grading system at OU differs from the grading systems at traditional brick universities. Once you receive all your grades for any assignments that you complete while doing your course, you can start to determine your final grade. This is done in three, unnecessarily confusing steps:

  1. All your homework scores are combined to form a “continuous score”. There are two types of homework scores – a tutor-marked assessment (TMA) and an interactive computer-marked assessment (iCMA). A continuous score involves calculating the weighted mean of all of these scores and it differs by course, but TMAs are always rated higher than iCMAs.
  2. Your exam score becomes your “examinable score”.
  3. Both scores are compared and the worse of the two is used to determine your final score.

Using the worse of the two scores is harsh, right? Fortunately, the grading system is similar to what it is in traditional universities. The boundaries are slightly different, but the same principle of a 40 for a pass remains. 

Is the Open University free? All your OU questions answered
Source: Class Central

Free Distance Learning Courses

If Open University courses aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other options for free distance learning courses online. Like the Open University, these cover a wide range of topics:

If you’re looking for something a little more technical, checking out the National Careers Service’s list will be useful. It has links to a number of different sites that cover a variety of different areas related to skills that will help you in a career. It ranges from maths courses from organisations like Pearson or Khan Academy to courses in health and social care from companies like Alison or Future Learn. 

If you’re looking for something a little more fun, why not try a language distance learning course? Languages can be a fun skill to learn, plus they’re handy for when you go on holiday. Sites like Duolingo, Memrise, Readlang and Babbel are all free and are definitely worth checking out, should you be interested in that sort of thing. 

Additionally, a number of universities have online courses. Who knows, your university may have some!

If you’re looking for an online course to do after graduation, check out our list of 5 of the best online courses to do after you graduate from uni. 

So, to answer the main question. Is the Open University free? Yes! As long as you do not do a full degree from OU, you will be able to access free courses online from the Open University.