Modes of Study

The most common ways of studying through distance learning at the Open University are written assignments, study journals, concept maps and examinations. In the following each mode of study is introduced briefly. You will get more detailed instructions from you lecturer after registration.

Written assignments

Written assignments or essays are the most common mode of study in the courses with instruction in English.

Written assignments focus on sets of questions and problems that require in-depth examination, combination and evaluation of knowledge. The assignments and their specific instructions are presented in the course requirements.

The instructions provide guidance in applying the theories, concepts, models and research results to certain topics and phenomena. Working on an assignment thus involves collecting information, processing it and presenting it in purposeful form. In addition to studying the required literature, written assignments can include more concrete tasks, such as interviews, observation, collecting articles, case studies, etc.

Study Journals

A study journal is written on the basis of the course-specific chapters of the exam literature. The aim is to write a reflective text that covers the central theories, concepts and research of the given area. Study journals are not written according to strictly delineated questions or problems. In other words, they do not contain specific tasks that require certain answers. Instead, they focus on learning and understanding the central concepts of the studied material and are meant to reflect the personal process of becoming familiar with the area in question.

Concept map

Before you begin writing an assessment or a study journal, reflect on how you understand the concept(s) in question, how you would define it, what questions it evokes, and in which everyday situations you might encounter it. You can compare theories by using a concept map or a table.

The concept map is a tool that illustrates how one has understood the studied topics and their internal relationships; what the hierarchy of the concepts is, which concepts are related historically or chronologically, which are similar in content, which are contradictory, etc.

A concept map is not a mind map, which is used, for example, in brainstorming. A mind map emphasises spontaneous thinking and ideas and employs visual aids, such as colours, pictures, etc. A concept map is more concerned with exact definition of concepts and their relationships.


Because all our subjects in English can be studied flexibly through distance learning, it is not necessary for you to take exams in the premises of our University. You will receive detailed instructions on the modes of study in the study letters of your own subject or from your teachers.

You can take your exams during the general examination days of the Open University. General examinations are organized 12 times during the academic year.

If you are interested in taking an exam please contact the student services e-mail avoneuvo@avoin.jyu.fi for further instructions.