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Managing change

We are constantly adapting to the world around us and change has come to be seen as almost inevitable in every aspect of our lives. Change means many things to different people. As a manager you may be asked to identify when change is needed, manage its implementation or guide others through it. In this course you will learn about strategies, skills and techniques to help you be more successful as a change manager. The course draws on your own experience and organisation as well as examples from other organisations to stimulate your thinking.

Standalone study only

You will not be awarded credits for studying this course. It is available for standalone study only and cannot be counted towards an OU qualification.

Short course

Short course code
This is a non-credit bearing course.
Study method
Distance Learning
Short course cost
See Registration
Entry requirements
See Entry requirements

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What you will study

One of the first challenges of change is that it is by nature unpredictable and uncertain as everything that is related to the future must be. We cannot guarantee that what we predict will unfold in the way we plan nor when other factors or events will intervene that we did not foresee. We certainly cannot predict the reactions or actions of other people – our colleagues, our customers, competitors or other stakeholders. As we change, or plan to change, they are doing the same thing. In this sense everything is shifting and moving making it impossible to be precise or certain.

This uncertainty means that people have different reactions to change. You may embrace change, see it as an opportunity to improve the situation. You may plan rationally and logically to make a transition or major transformation that makes complete sense to you. However, as a manager you probably recognise that change often fails as a result of the inability to take others with you on the journey.

Other people’s reactions to change may be negative. Change that is not asked for, or welcomed, or well planned for, is stressful and unsettling.  You may even encounter active resistance to change. These and other situations are common in our workplace and so this course looks at change from the perspective of managers in organisations and makes some suggestions on how to deal with these particularly challenging situations.

How change arises, how we describe it, and how people respond to different types of change are explored using a range of models and techniques.  As a manager or prospective manager, it is highly likely that you will be expected to play a role in the successful design, implementation and embedding of change programmes. This requires you to have some alternative strategies, a range of skills, some knowledge of how it is done well and a menu of techniques to draw upon in order to be more successful as a manager of change. 

In this course we explore what drives change, the different types of change, where the barriers and boundaries are to be found and what managers can do to understand and manage these in the context of their own organisation.  

There are consequences for organisations that fail to change, those that try to change but fail, and those that are constantly changing. In fact, very many change programmes fail to produce the benefits they set out to achieve.  There are many reasons why change can fail. You will be introduced to how some organisations innovate and continuously improve their operations successfully and the crucial role that managers play.

This course is intended to help you to think critically about change programmes in your own organisation and devise strategies that are more likely to make you a successful change manager by applying new skills and models to your own specific context.

The course features the distinctive strengths of The Open University (OU) from its years of expertise in work-based learning:

  • The convenience of accessing its clearly presented and sequenced materials, activities and support whenever suits you and wherever you have access to the dedicated website – if you prefer, you can print key materials to work on them offline.
  • The support of an expert learning adviser who can clarify study materials, answer questions and help you relate the course to your specific needs.
  • A work-based activity helping you to connect the course to your individual and organisational context and needs. A learning adviser will review your work-based activity and provide personal feedback.
  • Certification of completion from the OU for those who complete the course. You can use this to demonstrate your continuing professional development (CPD) activity to your employer and/or professional body. (NB The course does not carry academic credit points.)

You will learn

After completing this course you should be able to: 
  • describe a significant change that has arisen in your organisation and explain what is driving that change 
  • understand the nature and implications of different types of change 
  • apply a number of approaches to identify potential barriers to the change you are managing 
  • critically evaluate change programmes to identify effective and less effective management approaches in a given context 
  • identify strategies that can help make you a more effective change manager in future. 

Vocational relevance

Successful completion of the course enables us to recognise your achievement of the course learning by issuing an OU certificate that you can use to document your commitment to continuing professional development in your personal portfolio, or to provide evidence to employers or professional body.

Professional recognition

Successful completion of the course enables us to recognise your achievement of the course learning by issuing an OU certificate that you can use to document your commitment to continuing professional development in your personal portfolio, or to provide evidence to employers or professional body.

Learner support

Expert, confidential learner support is available when you need it from a learning adviser. Other support is available via the course forum, StudentHome website and computing helpdesk.

If you have a disability

The course is delivered online and makes use of a variety of online resources. If you use specialist hardware or software to assist you in using a computer or the internet you are advised to contact us about support which can be given to meet your needs.

Work-based activity

The work-based activity for this course has been designed as an integrated ongoing activity that you submit at the end of your study. It will allow you to reflect on your learning and how to use it in your professional work.

Outside the UK

This course has been written primarily for a UK context, but will have relevance to other contexts.

Course length

This course will require around 25 hours to complete.


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.

    Entry requirements

    Although there are no formal academic requirements to study any of our CPD courses, you are expected to have some experience in the field and the course assumes a familiarity with the subject.

    You can register and begin at any time during the life of the course. You can study at your own pace and submit your work-based activity at any date before the final submission date for the course.

    Please note that depending on when you register, you will have at least 6 months to submit your work based activity. Information about your final submission date is available when you register for the course. If you feel 6 months may not be sufficient time for your study and submission, please contact us to discuss your study options, including current final submission date before you register.

    Course length

    This course will require around 25 hours to complete.


    Start End England fee Register
    At anytime Flexible - see Entry requirements for more detail £305.00 Register

    Ways to pay

    Credit/Debit Card – We accept American Express, Mastercard, Visa and Visa Electron.

    Sponsorship – If this course is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could ask your employer to sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. Your sponsor just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.

    The fee information provided here is valid for short courses starting in the 2021/22 academic year. Fees for short courses starting in the 2022/23 academic year or later may increase in line with the University’s strategic approach to fees.

    What's included

    All learning materials, exercises, study support and the work-based activity are delivered entirely online.

    Computing requirements

    You'll need a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of 64-bit Windows 10 (note that Windows 7 is no longer supported) or macOS and broadband internet access.

    To join in spoken conversations in tutorials we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

    Our module websites comply with web standards and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

    Our OU Study mobile App will operate on all current, supported, versions of Android and iOS. It's not available on Kindle.

    It's also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook, however, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you'll also require a desktop or laptop as described above.