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Entry Requirements - The Open College of the Arts | Distance Learning Degrees and Courses

Entry Requirements

OCA offers open access courses, meaning you can start studying something you may have been interested in for years but haven't been able to pursue.

You don’t need specific subject related qualifications to study with us, however there are minimum entry requirements you need to meet to ensure you have the right tools to get started.

IT Requirements

OCA courses are designed to be studied at a distance, therefore it is essential that students have the right equipment, resources and IT literacy to successfully engage with their course.
  • – access to a desktop computer or laptop
    – internet access

    We encourage students access their student email once a week*, therefore would require access to a computer and the internet at least once a week.

    *Not applicable if you have been awarded a deferral or interruption.

  • – Gathering Knowledge: Looking for stuff online, digging deeper into topics, sorting through what’s useful, deciding what’s good to keep, and finding it later.

    – Connecting: Engaging in forums, sharing work, working together online, being safe and smart online.

    – Content Creation: Developing content, considering copyright and licences, maintaining learning blogs

    – Staying Safe: Protecting devices and protecting personal data, being conscious of the environment

    – Figuring Things Out: Fixing computer issues, finding out what people need and how tech can help where applicable (such as issues relating to the online virtual learning platform), recognizing where there’s room to improve your tech skills.

English Language Requirements

You will need a reasonable standard of written, reading, listening and spoken English so you can make best use of study materials, communicate effectively with your tutor or fellow students and seek help from other OCA Support Teams.

If you haven't studied via distance learning before or a new to academic study, before, you may be interested in completing a free course to improve your academic English.
If your nationality does not feature on the list of 'majority English speaking countries' then you will need to provide evidence of your English language proficiency.
  • A nationality of a majority English speaking country includes: Antigua & Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Great Britain, Grenada, Guyana, Republic of Ireland, Jamaica, New Zealand, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago, and the United States of America.

  • OCA requires evidence that your English Language proficiency equates to Level B2 of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) for Languages for postgraduate and undergraduate courses, and B1 of the CEFR for Foundation and Personal Development courses.

    You can evidence you meet this requirement through one of the following documents:

    • A Secure English Language Test (SELT) from an approved provider, taken two years or less before the date of enrolment to the course. IELTS for UKVI or IELTS Academic may be accepted as meeting these requirements, provided the student has achieved a minimum score of 5.5 in each of the four elements of language learning.
    • Have successfully completed an academic course (not professional or vocational) at Bachelors degree level or above from an educational institution in the UK or in a majority English speaking country as listed below.
    • A passport provided as evidence of nationality of a majority English speaking country as listed above.
    • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) iBT taken two years or less before the date of enrolment to the course, with minimum scores in each of the four elements of language learning as follows: reading 18, listening 17, speaking 20 and writing 17.
    • Cambridge English B2 First qualification with scale range 160-179 taken in the last two years as of the date of enrolment to the course.

    The above list is not exhaustive and other evidence can be accepted providing it is clear the evidence equates to Level B2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. In all cases acceptance is at the discretion of Open College of the Arts.

    If you do not have any of the above documents, then you may be interested in taking an online test through Duolingo. You would need an overall score of 90 or above to meet Level B2 of the CEFR, and a minimum score of 85 in each category (providing your overall score is still above 90).

    When you submit an enrolment form, this evidence will then be requested if required.

Course specific guidance

While most courses don't require specific qualifications in a particular subject, there are some exceptions to this rule.
  • You must have prior knowledge of music theory before enrolling to the BA (HONS) Music course, specifically Grade 5 of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music or equivalent.

    If you do not have this certificate, you can provide further details of your Music Theory knowledge, including any examinations you have studied, to [email protected] so that we can check that you have a sufficient level of knowledge prior to starting the course.

    Alternatively, you may be interested in studying the Foundations in Music course, which will help plug any knowledge and skill gaps to prepare you for studying music at higher education.

  • OCA courses are designed so that the purchase of highly expensive equipment is not mandatory, however there will be equipment and resources you may need to purchase depending on your chosen subject.

    Graphic Design, Illustration, Visual Communications and Photography courses will require editing software, such as Adobe Photoshop etc, however there are free alternatives available students may opt to use instead. Students will also need access to a digital camera for Photography courses (it is not possible to complete a course with a mobile phone camera). It may be useful when studying the above subjects to have some experience of editing software, however it is not a requirement and students can learn these skills alongside study.

    Visual Arts such courses may often need resources such as sketch pads, canvases, drawing and painting tools and other creative materials. Once enrolled, your course materials will advise of the resources you need, however you can check our the programme specifications in the meantime which will advise of any additional resources costs.

    All students need a desktop computer or laptop with internet access. We do not recommend using a tablet on its own.

  • You’ll need to have a recent (within two years) or current artistic practice/portfolio to apply for postgraduate study.

    We also recommend being able to claim a minimum of 50 criteria before submitting an application form. You will be asked to provide evidence of any criteria claimed within your application.

    Criteria Points
    Degree in any subject 40
    Degree in the visual arts 50
    Evidenced experience of working in any relevant creative industry or context. For example, as a practising Fine Artist. 50
    Higher National Diploma/Foundation degree or equivalent in Art 30
    Higher National Certificate or equivalent in Art 20
    A-Level Art or equivalent 10
    Other experience or learning, whether certified or not, will be considered on an individual basis

    Equivalency to the qualifications stated include international qualifications, provided these are accompanied by an ENIC equivalency certificate and/or un-certificated training or work experience to an equivalent level. In all cases acceptance is at the discretion of Open College of the Arts.