Open University commissioning

Watch a taster of our latest content

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 engaging with content on OU and partnerships platforms, such as OpenLearn – the OU’s home of free learning and nQuire – the OU’s Citizen Science platform developed in partnership with the BBC, which supports a number of BBC projects eg Gardenwatch and Forest 404.
  • 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


Earth from Space

Inside the Supermarket

Blue Planet Live


BBC Two 

The Planets with Brian Cox

8 Days: to the Moon and Back

The Big Hospital Experiment

David Harewood: Psychosis and Me


Our Dementia Choir with Vicky McClure

What Britain Buys and Sells in a Day


Forensics: The Real CSI

Inside the Foreign Office


The Brexit Storm: Lauran Kuenssberg’s Inside Story

The Prosecutors

The Fifteen Billion Pound Railway



BBC Three


Life Begins Now

Wanted: A Very Personal Assistant


BBC Four

NHS: A People’s History

The Secret Story of Stuff: Materials of the Modern Age

Magic Numbers: Hannah Fry’s Mysterious World of Maths


Radio 4

Economics with Subtitles

Green Originals

BBC Inside Science

More or Less

The Bottom Line

Thinking Allowed

All in the Mind


World Service

A History of Music and Technology

The Superlinguists

26th International Playwriting Competition


Learning English

Go the Distance


BBC Ideas

The Open University Playlist

Why your first memory is probably wrong

Can you really multitask?  Finally, an answer

Why we see faces in clouds

Three ways to spot a conspiracy theory

How stories shape our minds

Have you been fooled by forensics on TV?

Plato’s take on democracy and referendums

Wake up! Foucault’s warning on fake news

What’s the point of humiliation

Why do we chant at football matches?

Why is football so full of clichés?

What is flow and how can it help you achieve more?


Commissioning (for Learning Journey projects)

The Head of Broadcast and Partnerships at The Open University, Caroline Ogilvie, 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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