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Entry Requirements - The Open College of the Arts | Distance Learning Degrees and Courses
To find out more details about the transfer to The Open University see A New Chapter for OCA.

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. What we are interested in is your aptitude and enthusiasm for your chosen subject.

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

As OCA courses are designed to be studied at a distance, it is essential that students have a desktop computer or laptop with internet access that they are able to use regularly, and that they are able to easily manage a range of basic functions through ICT. This requirement is applicable to all OCA courses. 

Summary of ICT competencies for students in higher education

  • Information: Browsing, researching, filtering information, evaluating information, storing and retrieving information, including from cloud storage
  • Communication: Interacting through technologies, sharing information and content, engaging in online citizenship, collaborating through digital channels, netiquette, managing digital identity
  • Content Creation: Developing content, integrating and re-elaborating copyright and licences, programming
  • Safety: Protecting devices, protecting personal data, protecting health, protecting the environment
  • Problem solving: Solving technical problems, identifying needs and technological responses, innovating and creating using technology, identifying digital competency gaps

English Language Requirements

If English is your first language you do not need to provide evidence of 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.

If English is not your first language, 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.

BA (HONS) Music Requirement

We strongly recommend that you 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 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 Open Foundations in Music course, which will help plug any knowledge and skill gaps to prepare you for studying music at higher education.

Recommended Equipment

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.