Centre for Lifelong LearningOpen Studies Certificate

The Open Studies Certificate is a part-time modular programme designed to give feedback on your progress and as an introduction to the completion of assessment. It does not mean exams. The award of a certificate is based on the accumulation of 30 credit points at SCQF Level 7 (see Academic Credit section below) from a wide choice of Open Studies classes on offer.

The flexibility of the Open Studies framework means it is possible to select classes which reflect your interests and then accumulate credits at your own pace. For example, students wishing to learn Italian could attend weekly classes for 20 weeks between October and March over three academic sessions. This would result in the completion of an Open Studies Certificate in Language Studies (Italian) in three years. This is the equivalent to ¼ of a first year undergraduate degree. Note that the maximum period of study in which credits may be used towards an Open Studies Certificate is normally 6 years.

The benefits of taking a credit-bearing Open Studies class include:

  • access to various University facilities
  • evidence of your achievement when you complete a class successfully
  • academic credits which you can accumulate for an Open Studies Certificate (a recognised University Award) and onward study towards a Certificate in Higher Education.

You can make your decision about whether or not to undertake assessment to gain academic credit for your class once the class is underway, until the first assessment is issued.

Please also see Academic issues for further information about undertaking a credit-bearing class.

Open Studies classes carry credits awarded by the University of Strathclyde. The credits attached to a class reflect the amount of student effort required to achieve the stated class aims. Each class has a detailed descriptor with a course outline, learning outcomes, and objectives.

Details of the credit assigned to Open Studies classes can be found next to the relevant class in both The Daytime and Evening Programmes. Most classes are offered at the Scottish Credit Qualifications Framework (SCQF) Level 7 ie. first year undergraduate level. The SCQF framework is designed to make it easier for students to understand the level at which they are studying and how it compares to other credit structures (e.g SVQ, SQA).

A total of 10 SCQF credit points equates to 100 hours of 'notional student effort'. By notional student effort, we mean all aspects of learning including attending classes, private study, discussion, completing assignments and so on.

Note: Students normally have a maximum of six years to complete an Open Studies Certificate, therefore, any credit gained more than six years previous which has not been used towards a Certificate is considered out of date and cannot be used against an award. In some cases it may be possible to apply for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)- see further information in the RPL section. 

Open Studies classes are designed to be taken as free-standing modules chosen from classes offered in the CLL programmes.

Classes offered in the current session can be viewed in MyCLL using the search function to find 'Credit Bearing Classes Only'.

The full Open Studies Class Listing  is available for reference. Please note that availability of these classes is subject to scheduling within the above programmes.

Open Studies Class Outlines (including content, learning outcomes and assessment) are available to all to download individually from Myplace.

In addition to the stated learning outcomes for a class, Open Studies classes will help to develop the transferable skills that students normally expect to develop by taking any first year undergraduate degree class in the University, such as communication, planning and organising, adapting to change and personal effectiveness.

The aims of the Open Studies Certificate programme are given practical effect by the organisation of over 90 different credit-bearing classes into coherent subject groups. By focusing on a particular subject, or related subjects it is possible to obtain an Open Studies Certificate naming the chosen area of study (see below). Students must have at least 20 credits in one subject area to qualify for a 'named' award.

There are 10 pathways in which an Open Studies Certificate can be awarded:

Language Studies: to provide a grounding in some of the major languages and cultures of the world

Applied Arts: to broaden technical, perceptual skills and aesthetic awareness in relation to the expressive arts

Theatre Arts: to provide an insight into various aspects of theatre and film, from practical acting techniques to script writing for stage and screen

Humanities: to extend knowledge and understanding of various cultural forms and to enhance analytical skills and critical thinking

Applied Writing: to provide practical learning and skills development across a range of writing genres, including features, creative and novel writing

Genealogical Studies: providing basic through to intermediate study of genealogical subjects including a class specifically using technology and the internet to further family history research

Psychology: to provide adult learners with an initial introduction to findings, theories and debates in general contemporary psychology in an undergraduate setting

Social Policy: to engage with contemporary social issues such as inequalities, disadvantages, diversity, globalisation and crime

English Literature: to gain a grounding in the classics as well as an insight into new fields of literature

Musical Studies: to move participants beyond the 'pleasure principle' towards a more intellectually meaningful response, by providing historical contextualisation for listening, and by relating changes in the language and structures of music to contemporary events in art, politics, literature and society. 

The Certificate of Higher Education in Lifelong Learning is for those who have accumulated 120 credits and have gained three Open Studies Certificates.

The fourth Open Studies Certificate is replaced by the award of the Certificate of Higher Education in Lifelong Learning. This can be gained in either Creative Arts or Humanities depending on your spread of subjects. At least 90 of the credits must come from the one of the named subject areas in order to achieve the award in either Creative Arts or Humanities. Subjects are split as follows:


  • Humanities
  • Applied Writing
  • Genealogical Studies
  • Language Studies
  • Musical Studies
  • Psychology
  • Social Policy
  • English Literature

Creative Arts

  • Applied Arts
  • Theatre Arts

The Certificate is equivalent to a full first year’s study at undergraduate level or at SCQF Level 7 and represents a significant academic achievement.

Where appropriate, recognition for prior learning (RPL) will be recognised within the Open Studies Certificate programme. This means that credit can be gained for appropriate knowledge acquired through experience or/as well as relevant university-level classes completed within the last five years.

RPL/Entry with Advanced Standing is permitted up to a maximum of 10 of the 30 credits required for an Open Studies Certificate.

The University of Strathclyde also participates in the European Credit Transfer Scheme (ECTS): 10 University of Strathclyde credits = 5 ECTS credits = 10 credit points at SCQF Level 7.

Please contact Lynda Scott (lynda.scott@strath.ac.uk) for further information and details of the RPL options that may be available to you.

Please note: there is normally a £20 administration charge for all RPL applications.

A guide to completing online language assessments at CLL can be downloaded here: CLL Language Student CPD@Myplace Guide.

We have also prepared an online tutorial which is available to view online here.

If you require any further support with your online language assessments please contact learn-cll@strath.ac.uk.