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Postgraduate Certificate in Humanities

This certificate course, part of our postgraduate programme in the humanities, is for those who want to develop their research and analytical skills and upgrade their qualifications. It will suit anyone with appropriate entry qualifications who has a passion for the arts and is looking for an intellectual challenge. This certificate allows you to tailor your studies to your particular subject interest. At present we offer modules from subject lines in art history, classical studies, literature, music and philosophy.

Study Mode

Online Education, Distance Learning & External study modes available

Career relevance and employability

Studying the Postgraduate Certificate in Humanities course will provide you with an opportunity to build on skills acquired at undergraduate level. It will further develop your capability to read and analyse large amounts of written material and improve on your ability to convert knowledge acquired during your studies into lucid written responses. These transferable skills are in demand in many areas of the public and private sector, such as advertising, marketing and public relations; educational, charity and development; or government and public administration.

Completing the certificate will give you a worthwhile qualification in its own right, and will also take you a third of the way along the route to achieving a highly respected MA in Humanities qualification.

There is more information about how OU study can improve your employability in the OU's Employability Statement from our Careers Advisory Service. You can also read or download our publication OU study and your career and look at our subject pages to find out about career opportunities.


For this 60-credit postgraduate certificate, you require:

60 credits from the following optional modules:

Postgraduate optional modules Credits Next start
Postgraduate foundation module in art history (A840)

Prepare for higher level study of art history by learning about methodological approaches, from biography and iconography to feminist art history and the 'period eye'.

See full description.

60 Feb FINAL
Postgraduate foundation module in classical studies (A860)

Study the ancient world through four interdisciplinary topics - social history, ideas and values, literature and archaeology - honing your research and analysis skills in the process.

See full description.

60 Feb FINAL
Postgraduate foundation module in music (A870)

Find out how music research informs the study of musical performance through examining sources from recordings to ethnographies, across music from many periods and styles.

See full description.

60 Jan
Postgraduate foundation module in philosophy (A850)

Gain postgraduate-level skills in research, analysis and presentation of an argument, and explore some of the contemporary debates in philosophy on the theme of personhood.

See full description.

60 Jan

Or, subject to the rules about excluded combinations, the discontinued modules AA810, AA820, AA830 or 60 credits of specified modules from the MA in Humanities programme including at least one of the discontinued 30-credit modules A810, A820 or A830

Educational aims

This taught postgraduate programme in humanities will:

  • provide you with appropriate training in the techniques of postgraduate study in one humanities subject area.

Learning outcomes

The learning outcomes of the programme are described in four areas.

Knowledge and understanding

When you have completed this qualification you will have knowledge and understanding of:

  • a range of research tools and methods appropriate to postgraduate study in one humanities subject area
  • current issues and debates in one humanities subject area.

Cognitive skills

When you have completed this qualification you will be able to:

  • evaluate critically current research in one humanities area
  • evaluate and critique some of the methods used in humanities research
  • use concepts and theories appropriately.

Practical and/or professional skills

When you have completed this qualification you will be able to:

  • use research libraries, their archives and their contents efficiently
  • use specialist online databases and other online facilities for postgraduate study
  • form arguments at postgraduate level and express those arguments in pieces of writing, using proper academic conventions.

Key skills

When you have completed this qualification you will be able to demonstrate the following skills:


You will be able to:

  • communicate effectively in writing to a specialised audience
  • vary your means of communication according to the specialised task at hand
  • be aware of the tools which can help you in the task of effective communication.

Improving your own performance

You will be able to:

  • plan an essay at postgraduate level
  • use feedback from your tutor and fellow students effectively in order to prepare subsequent assignments
  • use other resources, such as libraries and ICT resources, to improve your learning.

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