The Open University

Program Description


The Open University


This internationally-recognised MBA course is designed for practising managers aspiring to higher positions. The emphasis for your learning is directly rooted in management practice – the ‘master’ in the degree title signifies your ‘mastery’ of the art and science of management. To achieve this level of capability the programme concentrates on strategic analysis, interdisciplinary skills, intellectual stimulation and independent judgement and builds these upon a solid foundation of core disciplines, including human resource management, organisational behaviour, accounting and finance, marketing and operations.

The MBA course is designed as an integrated programme, and balances your learning time between 75% of compulsory elements (including the final organisation-based project) with 25% from optional modules. This enables you to adjust the curriculum to suit your needs. MBA modules are challenging but will always direct you towards improving your management capabilities. You will need to have some experiential knowledge at a managerial level and/or of decision-making, so that you have a practical business base on which to build your MBA learning.

The Open University Business School is accredited internationally by the EFMD Quality Improvement System (EQUIS); by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB); and the MBA is accredited by the Association of MBAs (AMBA). Only a select group of less than 60 business schools worldwide have this triple-accredited status.


The MBA qualification is in two stages and typically takes three years to complete based on a regular study of 12-16 hours per week, which experience shows us is the practical limit for a full-time manager balancing study with career and family responsibilities. You are allowed up to a maximum of seven years to complete your MBA.

Stage 1

Stage 1 consists of the MBA stage 1: management: perspectives and practice (B716). This 60-credit module takes 12 months to complete. It is an integrated module covering all the core disciplines which make up the MBA curriculum. You must pass Stage 1 before proceeding onto Stage 2. If you have successfully completed either of the now discontinued modules B700 or B713 these can also be counted as Stage 1 of the MBA.

Stage 2

Your first Stage 2 module is The dynamics of strategy (BB835) followed by Corporate finance (BB831).

You then study 45 credits of optional (or 'elective') modules. Most of these elective modules are rated at 15 credits. Please note that the 30-credit module Business, human rights law and corporate social responsibility (W822) starts in November each year and that Business operations: delivering value (T883) is available for the last time in May 2014. If you take two 30-credit modules you can only count 45 credits towards your MBA.

To complete your MBA, you then take a 30-credit compulsory action-learning based project module, Making a difference: the management initiative (B839). This is typically undertaken in your own organisation (though this is not a requirement) which enables you to demonstrate your mastery of the art of management. Although you study this module last, you will find that preparation for it begins with your first module and is embedded throughout your MBA studies.

You should note that the University’s unique study rule applies to this qualification. This means that you must include at least 60 credits from OU modules that have not been counted in any other OU qualification that has previously been awarded to you.

Educational aims

The MBA is a career development generalist programme for those who have significant post-graduation and relevant work experience on which the learning process should build. The main emphasis of the programme is on leadership through strategic management. While the academic level is masters, there is a strong practical and professional orientation to the curriculum.

As an MBA graduate you should be able to ground your new knowledge within the base of your professional experience. You will be able to reflect on and learn from that prior experience and thus be able to integrate new knowledge with past experience and apply it to new situations. You will be able to challenge preconceptions and to remove subject and functional boundaries so as to handle complex situations holistically. You should also have particular strengths in analysing, synthesising and solving complex, unstructured business problems. In addition to being able to communicate your findings, you should have developed the skills to implement agreed solutions effectively and efficiently. You should therefore have strongly developed interpersonal skills and be able to interact effectively with a range of specialists.

The MBA is directed both at the acquisition and critical understanding of a body of knowledge and at the acquisition of a range of personal capabilities.

Teaching, learning and assessment methods

You learn through two inter-related methods. First, using a range of specially-written study materials, case studies, original texts, study guides and assignments and through a range of multi-media material. Secondly, you are allocated a tutor . This tutor is your first and main point of contact. The tutor answers queries on the materials, grades and comments on your work and arranges and runs tutorials, face to face or online.

As well as your module tutor, who generally will change as you progress through your MBA modules, you will be assigned to a programme tutor who will normally be with you throughout your studies; his or her main role is to help you integrate your learning across the range of subjects and disciplines which you will be studying.

Samples of tutors’ comments are monitored by members of the central module team who generate comments intended to support and develop tutors’ assessment and grading of assignments.

In some cases the assignments are formative (for example at the beginning of a module to enable you to develop your confidence), but usually they are summative. Modules may also include computer-marked assignments or examination papers.

Most modules also include a three-hour written examination but may involve an end-of-module assessment which could include an investigation-based report.

Evidence of key skills will be apparent in all tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) and tutors will comment on the evidence of skills as well as on demonstrated levels of knowledge and understanding.

You are also encouraged to participate in online forums at both national and local levels. This gives you a chance to share and resolve issues with fellow students as well as tutors and the module team.

Formative assessment in the form of informal self-assessed questions allow you progressively to assess your own progress and understanding. Formal assessment of knowledge and understanding components of the programme is achieved by a series of tutor-marked assignments (TMAs). These assignments are marked and assessed by the module tutor. They are central to the teaching of the module since they allow you an opportunity to display your knowledge and understanding – and in consequence any issues concerning either – and so enable tutors to identify and comment on your knowledge and understanding. Tutors receive detailed marking guidance from the module team.

Cognitive skills in the programme are developed through a range of activities within the programme’s modules. Case studies and residential school activities allow students to engage with the issues around management and develop appropriate analysis, evaluation and problem-solving skills.

Skills associated with working with others in a group are developed at the residential schools, which are compulsory components of the compulsory modules within the MBA.

The programme materials and support from tutors helps develop your skills in managing your own learning. In particular, many of the modules expect you to work largely under your own direction and initiative. You are expected to reflect on your own performance, identify your own learning needs and develop appropriate learning strategies.

Key skills will also be assessed in each end-of-module examination.

You are expected to have work experience in management. As such, you should already have gained some of these skills. The programme will however allow you to demonstrate and develop them further.

Evidence of practical and professional skills will be apparent in all TMAs and tutors will comment on the evidence of skills as well as on demonstrated levels of knowledge and understanding.

Career impact

Employers value the MBA as an indication of high level business and management skills. These skills are in demand, increasingly so in times of economic uncertainty, and employers want practical experience, a thorough grasp of business, and the ability to lead at a strategic level. AMBA’s careers survey shows that MBA students can expect their salary to increase, and the MBA to have a positive impact on their career progression, as well as bring improvements to their organisation or business.

Entry requirements

All entrants to the MBA are required to have a minimum of three years’ experience in a managerial, professional or technical role. Usually this means that you are at least 25 years old as it is unusual (but not impossible) to be able to satisfy the ‘experience’ requirement under this age.

Depending on your previous qualifications, there are a variety of routes into the MBA:

If you already hold an honours degree awarded by a recognised UK university, or equivalent you can begin your MBA studies by taking MBA stage 1: management: perspectives and practice (B716).

Various higher education and professional qualifications are considered equivalent to an honours degree. If you hold a qualification that you believe is an equivalent level to a UK honours degree please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service. The Open University Business School Masters Programme Committee is responsible for judging whether applicants’ qualifications meet the requirements for admission.

If you are experienced in managerial work but do not have an honours degree or equivalent you need first to gain our Professional Certificate in Management (S01) (previously coded C31). This is also a valuable qualification in its own right.

If you have the equivalent of a UK bachelors degree without honours you may be permitted to progress on to the MBA course by taking the first part of the Professional Certificate in Management, Managing 1: organisations and people (B628). Alternatively if you have an official Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) score of 640 or above, and the equivalent of a UK undergraduate degree, you will be allowed to progress directly on to the MBA. If you think either of these possibilities may apply to you, please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service.

You will also need an appropriate facility in English language, sufficient to be able to work effectively at postgraduate level; generally this means capability equivalent to an International English Language Test System (IELTS) score of 6.5.

Read more about this programme on the Open University website here

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The Open University

Last updated August 30, 2017
Duration & Price
This course is Online
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Aug. 2018
3 years
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United Kingdom - Milton Keynes, England
Start date: Aug. 2018
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Aug. 2018
United Kingdom - Milton Keynes, England
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