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 for all BBC TV, radio, digital and online channels/platforms. In total they produce up to 35 projects a year.

A Learning Journey is the educational journey that enhances and enriches the broadcast/content experience that the viewer/user takes after watching, listening or engaging with programmes and/or online/digital content.

The OU, through its nominated academics, will provide regular input into the production process including reasonable attendance at production team meetings. The OU’s involvement is managed by Broadcast Project Managers who are the primary contact between production teams and OU academics.

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, wellbeing and social care
  • Technology including, engineering, maths and computing
  • Science and nature
  • Social sciences including psychology
  • Current affairs

The OU is interested in supporting proposals which:

  • Inspire people to find out more about subjects or topics by visiting the OU’s Open Learn site 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, apps. AR and VR 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


Blue Planet II

The Met: Policing London

Child of our Time

BBC Two Civilisations

Hugh's Wild  West

Flatpack Empire

Rome Unpacked

The Human Body: Secrets of Your Life Revealed

bbc-three-logo Drugsland

Life Begins Now

Wanted: A Very Personal Assistant

BBC Four Hyper Evolution: Rise of the Robots

Prejudice and Pride: The People's History of LGBT Britain

Soundwaves: The Symphony of Physics

Vienna: Empire, Dynasty and Dream

Radio 4

BBC Inside Science

More or Less

The Bottom Line

Thinking Allowed

All in the Mind

BBC World Service

Living Shakespeare

The Music of Time

The Truth About... Success and Failure in Medicine

bbc learning english  Go the Distance


Commissioning (for Learning Journey projects)

The Head of Broadcast and Partnerships 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


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