Open University commissioning

Watch a showreel of Open University co-funded commissions

The BBC and the Open University (OU)  combine the best of both organisations’ resources and talents to reach the widest possible audience with innovative, exciting and inspiring content. They work in partnership to co-produce programmes from in-house and independent suppliers,  totalling approx. 30 learning journey series/projects a year across all BBC TV channels, radio stations and online.

A Learning Journey is the educational journey that enhances and enriches the broadcast/content experience that the viewer takes after watching/listening to the programme. 

The OU, through its nominated academic/s, will provide regular input into the production process including reasonable attendance at production team meetings.

All Learning Journey projects shall include a request made to the audience to continue the Learning Journey by accessing free complementary materials produced by The OU. The call-to-action will be collaboratively agreed in advance of the online edit. See the OU production page for more information.

Programme makers should refer to the relevant BBC factual commissioning team or the key contact for the Open University.

Find out more about how to deliver to the Open University


Priority subject areas

The OU is interested in factual commissioning in the areas of:

  • Arts and history
  • Business, management and law
  • Education and languages
  • Health and social care
  • Technology including, engineering, maths and computing
  • Science and nature
  • Society

The OU is interested in supporting proposals which:

  • Inspire people to find out more about subjects or topics by visiting OU’s Open Learn, the Open Educational Resources portal for free learning. 
  • Provide the stimulus for further study at The Open University.
  • Are intellectually challenging and focus on priority subject areas.
  • Explore new ways of delivering content and interactivity for the audience, via mobile, online and on demand services.
  • Stimulate 'local' audiences and provide outreach in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and English Regions.
  • Connect to the OU's teaching and provide material for modules.


Overview of recent projects

 BBC One

The Hunt

The Met: Policing London

Child of our Time

 BBC Two

 Exodus: Our Journey to Europe

Horizon: The Nine Months that Made You

How to Die: Simon’s Choice

Old School with the Hairy Bikers

Full Steam Ahead

City in the Sky

 BBC Three

Our Crime

Excluded: Kicked Out of School

Wanted: A Very Personal Assistant

 BBC Four

Genius of the Modern World

Catching History's Criminals: The Forensics Story 

The Secret Life of Books

Colour: The Spectrum of Science

The Prosecutors: Real Crime and Punishment

Blood and Gold: The Making of Spain with Simon Sebag Montefiore

 Radio 4

More or Less

The Bottom Line

Thinking Allowed

A History of Ideas

All in the Mind

 World News

Health Check  

The Truth About... Your Medicine Cabinet 

The Documentary: The Managers


Escape from the Boardroom

Cybercrimes with Ben Hammersley


Commissioning (for Learning Journey projects)

The Head of Broadcast Commissioning at The Open University meets regularly with factual commissioners to identify future projects.   


Working with the OU

Find out more about delivering to the Open University.


Terms of trade

The process is the same for independent productions and the agreement with the independent will incorporate the OU rights and requirements. Visit the How we do business page to read the BBC Business framework (Terms of trade).


Find out more about the Open University production and delivery requirements including credit and publicity guidance on the OU production page