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Leadership and management in health and social care

The delivery of successful health and social care services relies on effective management and strong leadership. This module is designed for anyone who would like to learn more about management and leadership in health and social care, as well as for existing and aspiring managers. It will help you develop the necessary knowledge and analytical skills, as well as providing an overview of the organisational, legal and policy contexts within which managers operate, focusing on the challenges and opportunities faced in this sector. Throughout the module you apply learning to real-life examples, developing evidence-based strategies for good outcomes for service users.

Modules count towards OU qualifications

OU qualifications are modular in structure; the credits from this undergraduate module could count towards a certificate of higher education, diploma of higher education, foundation degree or honours degree.

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Module code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
Study level
To enable you to make international comparisons, the information provided shows how OU levels correspond to the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ).
3 6
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
See Entry requirements

Student Reviews

Personally, lacking any previous exposure to management experience, this was a challenging module. The concepts, theories and processes were new...
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I enjoyed studying this module. It was the second time I attempted it as the first time round I felt...
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What you will study

Following an online learning guide, you will work with a combination of print, online resources and audio-visual materials designed to get you thinking and to build your understanding and skills. You will be encouraged and supported to bring together core themes and ideas in a way that is relevant to you and your specific interests. You will be taught quickly and simply how to use ICT to access, analyse and communicate current issues, as well as going online to communicate with other students.

The module is structured around key aspects of leading and managing in health and social care, with four main blocks of study:

Block 1 Approaching leadership and management

You will begin by exploring what it means to be a leader or a manager in health and social care today, examining how the two roles differ yet complement each other, and sometimes overlap. You will be encouraged to reflect on your own skills and experience and what you wish to gain from studying the module.

Block 2 Managing relationships

In this block you explore two constants at the heart of any management role – change and human relationships. You explore how theoretical understanding can support practical attempts to work through complex situations of change with a variety of people, and reflect on how your own approaches to management or leadership influence the relationships you have with others.

Block 3 Creating the caring environment

In Block 3 you move from focusing on relationships between people, to relationships between people and their surrounding environments. Drawing on real-life examples you consider the impact of organisational, environmental and political contexts and concerns for managers in health and social care.

Block 4 Leading for ethical and quality care

Having considered the practical context within which managers and leaders operate, in the final block you are encouraged to question the ethical requirements of good leadership and management in care. You reflect on personal values and ethical practice, legislative requirements and the value of learning from experience and listening to others.

Each week of work will involve core questions, case study materials, key theoretical concepts and activities designed to apply, critique and review the topic. To ensure that your learning can be applied to real-life contexts, two key recurring devices are used throughout the module:

The 6 managers – These six managers, from frontline roles across health and social care in the UK, are real people in real roles. By sharing their experiences through short videos, they help to bring alive the conceptual ideas studied in the module and help you to explore how they might play out in real-life situations.

A toolkit for management and leadership – You will be introduced to a range of tools and skills which can be applied in your own work environment. By the end of the module you will have built up a personal ‘toolkit’ for management and leadership which you take away with you for future use.

Vocational relevance

This module has been designed for people in health and social care working in frontline, administrative and leadership positions. However, you do not have to work in health and social care to take this module as it recognises the interests of those who are not in paid positions hoping to enter the sector or are working in voluntary roles, providing care to friends and families or using services.

Building your career in health and social care is addressed by content that draws from current policy imperatives and reflects employer expectations around skills, knowledge and understanding.

Outside the UK

While the module draws on case studies and examples from the UK, the core ideas and theoretical approaches are relevant to any context.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material. They will also mark and comment on your written work, and you can ask them for advice and guidance. Part of your tuition is delivered online through online tutor group activities, so you will have access to your tutor through email and online discussion forums. Telephone communication may also be used. If you are new to the OU, you will find that your tutor is particularly concerned to help you with your study methods. 

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper.

Future availability

Leadership and management in health and social care (K313) starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that starts in October 2019, the last time it will start. We will replace it with a new module – Leading, managing, caring  (K318) – that will start for the first time in October 2020.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

    Course work includes:

    5 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
    End-of-module assessment
    No residential school

    Course satisfaction survey

    See the satisfaction survey results for this course.

    Entry requirements

    You are not required to have done any study in this area before, but bear in mind that this is an OU level 3 module. OU level 3 module build on study skills and subject knowledge acquired from studies at OU levels 1 and 2. They are intended only for students who have recent experience of higher education in a related subject, preferably with the OU.

    Our OU level 1 module An introduction to health and social care (K101) and OU level 2 module Critical issues in health and wellbeing  (K219) would be ideal preparation. The ICT skills developed in these modules would be an asset, however this OU level 3 module does provide the opportunity to quickly develop the necessary skills if you do not already have them.

    If you have any doubt about the suitability of the course, please speak to an adviser.


    Start End England fee Register
    05 Oct 2019 Jun 2020 £3012.00

    Registration closes 12/09/19 (places subject to availability)

    October 2019 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.

    Additional Costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a computer, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

    If you're on a low income you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after your module has started.

    Ways to pay for this module

    Open University Student Budget Account

    The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments.

    You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

    • Register now, pay later – OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
    • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your monthly fee and number of instalments based on the cost of the module you are studying. APR 5.1% representative.

    Joint loan applications

    If you feel you would be unable to obtain an OUSBA loan on your own due to credit history or affordability issues, OUSBA offers the option to apply for a joint loan application with a third party. For example, your husband, wife, partner, parent, sibling or friend. In such cases, OUSBA will be required to carry out additional affordability checks separately and/or collectively for both joint applicants who will be jointly and severally liable for loan repayments.

    As additional affordability checks are required when processing joint loan applications, unfortunately, an instant decision cannot be given. On average the processing time for a joint loan application is five working days from receipt of the required documentation.

    Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).  

    Employer sponsorship

    Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU courses are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to complete. They also value the skills that students learn and can apply in the workplace.

    More than one in ten OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the module you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could approach your employer to see if they will sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. 

    • Your employer just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.
    • You won’t need to get your employer to complete the form until after you’ve chosen your module.  

    Credit/debit card

    You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. 

    We accept American Express, Mastercard, Visa and Visa Electron. 

    Mixed payments

    We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. For example, you may wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Account (OUSBA).

    For more information about combining payment options, speak to an adviser.

    Please note: your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and therefore the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fees and funding information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2020. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees. 

    This information was provided on 20/07/2019.

    What's included

    One core book accompanies the learning journey – ‘Leading, Managing, Caring: understanding leadership and management in health and social care’. The remaining study materials are delivered online, including up-to-date audio-visual case study materials, as well as other published research which is accessible through the University library’s online resources. 

    The audio-visual components of this module will be embedded within the learning guide. 

    Computing requirements

    A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

    Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

    A desktop or laptop computer with either:

    • Windows 7 or higher
    • Mac OS X 10.7 or higher

    The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).

    Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.

    If you have a disability

    The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying K313 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

    To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our Disability support website.