In London, the twenty-seven year-old hairdresser Rita decides to complete her basic education before having children as desired by her husband Denny. She joins the literature course in an open university and has tutorial with the middle-aged Dr. Frank Bryant that is an alcoholic and deluded professor from the upper-class without self-esteem. Frank lives with the also Professor Julia and they have a loveless relationship; Julia has a love affair with the dean Brian. The amusing Rita gives motivation to Frank to prepare her for the exams to join the university while she leaves Denny and moves to the house of the waitress Trish, who loves Gustav Mahler and is a cult woman. Will she succeed in the exams?