A large proportion of the study materials will be delivered only online. Two printed books (Maths for science, Understanding the weather), study guide, website, online video and audio activities, other online materials including the online Good Experiments Guide, and online discussion forums for interaction with other students.
You will need
A few items of household equipment for practical work.
A basic scientific calculator. It is important that you either know how to use your calculator fully or still have its operating instructions. You should check that your calculator performs calculations in the mathematically correct order. You will learn more about this during your studies, but for now check the answer that your calculator gives to the calculation 3 + 2 × 4. The correct answer is 11. If your calculator gives the incorrect answer of 20 it does not ‘understand’ the rules and you should not use it for this module. If you should decide to buy a new scientific calculator, one of the following would be particularly suitable – a Casio fx-83GT PLUS, a Casio fx-85GT PLUS or a Sharp EL-W531 (‘Writeview’) – and should not cost more than about £10.
Headphones and a microphone for taking part in online tutorial sessions.
A webcam or digital camera is highly desirable to show images of experiments.
You will need a certain amount of space to perform some of the experiments, and for one you will need access to soil. You should be prepared to set aside several periods of up to half a day for completing some of the experiments. This module may not be suitable for you if you are unable to study regularly, need to take frequent breaks from study of five days or more, or will not have regular access to the internet.
You will need a computer with internet access to study this module as the study materials and activities are accessible via a web browser. Any other computer-based activities you will need to carry out, such as word processing, using spreadsheets, taking part in online forums, and submitting files to the university for assessment, are specified in the module materials. If any additional software is needed for these tasks it will either be provided or is freely available.
We recommend either of the following:
Windows desktop or laptop computer running Windows 7 or later operating system
Macintosh desktop or laptop computer running OS X 10.7 or later operating system.
A netbook, tablet, smartphone or Linux computer that supports one of the browsers listed below may be suitable. The screen size should be at least 1024 (H) x 768 (W) pixels. If you intend to use one of these devices please ensure you have access to a suitable desktop or laptop computer with a Windows or OS X operating system, in case you are unable to carry out all the module activities because some software will not run on Linux, iOS or Android devices.
We recommend a minimum 1 Mbps internet connection and any of the following browsers for carrying out web-based activities:
Internet Explorer 9 and above
Apple Safari 7 and above
Google Chrome 31 and above
Mozilla Firefox 31 and above.
Note: using the latest version for your browser will maximise security when accessing the internet. Using company or library computers may prevent you accessing some internet materials or installing additional software.
To be able to talk and listen in our online discussions you will need both a microphone and speakers/headphones.
See our Skills for OU study website for further information about computing skills for study and educational deals for buying Microsoft Office software.
If you have a disability
Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of the printed study material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader and mathematical and scientific materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. The two printed books (Maths for science and Understanding the weather) are available in a comb-bound format. In addition a significant proportion of the study material is delivered online but will include printable versions of web pages for students to print off should they wish to do so. Other alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future.
Students with hearing or visual impairments may have difficulty participating in the audio conferences but should be able to participate fully in online forum discussions. Transcripts of audio-visual clips will be included in the study materials. Students with manual dexterity problems or hearing or visual impairments may need assistance to complete some experiments. Students with visual impairments may have difficulty in participating fully in some of the observational activities. For example, you need to undertake simple observations of the weather in your locality for a period of several consecutive days. Parts of the module rely heavily on coloured images, complicated maps and charts, and direct observations of the sky. One of the aims of the module is that students should develop an ability to interpret cloudscapes, weather maps, satellite images and their own observations. No textual descriptions of diagrams will be available and the use of a sighted assistant to interpret the images or describe the sky may conflict with some of the module learning outcomes. The assessment will only require students to demonstrate that the majority of module learning outcomes have been achieved. You should consider if you will find achieving these learning outcomes challenging and contact us for advice before registering for this module.
If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Find out more about our services for disabled students.