Degrees and courses for international students
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Exams and assessment

Your studies will be assessed by a mixture of assignments and exams.


An assignment is a piece of written work, based on your course material, lectures, seminars and small-group tutorials.

Assignments are the main way for you to consolidate your knowledge and express what you’ve learned. Once written, you'll submit your assignments through an easy-to-use online system.

The vast majority of your assignments will be marked by your tutor. These are called 'tutor-marked assignments'. Some may be marked automatically by computer, but currently this is done for very few courses.

Certain courses include other types of written assessments, such as project work or dissertations – and language courses feature oral assessments.

Find out more by checking the detail of the course you are interested in studying.


I think I enjoyed most the assignments! Challenging but also very exciting. What they bring out in someone is the ability to understand and communicate in writing.

Uwaifo Oshodin, Business Studies


As well as submitting assignments throughout your modules, exams will, inevitably, be part of the assessment process. Keep calm, though – we have all the support in place to help you pass.

Exam dates are always published well in advance – sometimes up to a year ahead – and you’ll receive all the relevant information at the outset of your course, so that you can schedule your assignments and the necessary revision.

At exam time, if your course requires you to sit a written exam then you’ll usually do this at an established Open University examination centre in your country.

The question paper will almost always be ‘unseen,’ which means you won’t see it before the exam – but you will receive a specimen paper with your course materials, to give you an idea of what to expect.

(The-end-of-module assessment for language modules varies according to level. Some have just an oral exam, others have a written piece of work – which may be an exam – and some have a mixture of both.)

The Open University has established examination centres, in the UK, the Republic of Ireland and in most countries in Continental Europe. If your country doesn’t have an OU-established centre, then you may need to apply to sit your examination at a centre that’s local to you (typically a nearby university or British Council office). In such cases an additional fee is payable to cover the cost of arranging this. 

Alternatively, you can sit an exam in the UK, Republic of Ireland or Continental Europe at an established examination centre. Although you won’t need to pay an additional fee, you will need to let us know in advance that you’d like to do this.

*As a part of our response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, all exams due to take place before 31 December 2022 will be delivered as remote exams. This means you will not be required to attend an exam centre but will instead take your exam remotely (e.g. at home).

Other examined work

Occasionally, a course will require you to submit a piece of examined work in place of, or as well as, sitting an exam. This is most likely to be a project, report or portfolio.

Again, you’ll receive all the arrangements for submitting your work well in advance of the submission date.

Once you’ve passed your exams and completed your course, it’s time to celebrate: the hard work is over and you can look forward to graduation day.