Skip to content
You are viewing information for England.  Change country.

Scientific investigations

This online module provides an innovative introduction to designing experiments and interpreting results. These are key scientific skills that you will learn by devising and performing experiments at home. You will not be alone in your task. Collaboration is important in science and you will work with a small group that, for part of the module, discusses experimental design, collects data and compares results. The experiments and study materials draw on examples from the breadth of science. S155 is an online module within which you will use a variety of communication methods, including scheduled online forums. 

Modules count towards OU qualifications

OU qualifications are modular in structure; the credits from this undergraduate-level module could count towards a certificate of higher education, diploma of higher education, foundation degree or honours degree.

Browse qualifications in related subjects


Module code
Study level
1 7 4
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
See Am I ready?

Student Reviews

A reasonable course. The investigations where not especially taxing but this is a level one course. I would recommend studying...
Read more

This course is very well written and I had excellent tutorial support. An indispensable grounding for any further science study....
Read more

Request your prospectus

Explore our subjects and courses

Request your copy now

What you will study

This module is about the experimental method in science. You will learn about designing and planning experiments by working through the module text, which will be illustrated with case studies taken from the published work of professional scientists. By carrying out experiments yourself and discussing both the design and the results with other students in your group, you will learn practical skills in making measurements and observations accurately. You will also learn about the process of reaching conclusions that are supported by the experimental results.

Towards the end of the module you will get an opportunity to design and carry out an experiment with your group. This will help you to understand the role of hypotheses in experiments and that detailed planning is necessary for successful and safe experimentation. By working in groups you will appreciate the role of group work and discussion in science.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and experiments, and whom you can ask for academic advice and guidance. If you are new to The Open University, you will find that your tutor is particularly concerned to help you with your study methods.

Contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

All assessments must be submitted online.

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in October 2014 when it will be available for the last time.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

Course work includes:

End-of-module assessment
No residential school

Course satisfaction survey

See the satisfaction survey results for this course.


Scientific investigations complements the 60-credit key introductory OU level 1 module Exploring science (S104), and is particularly suitable if you’re taking that module or have already taken it. (However, if you choose to study S155 alongside S104, you should be prepared to study for 26 hours a week for your first ten weeks of study.) 

You should have basic mathematical skills (including drawing and interpreting graphs, and measurement and use of angles, using degrees). You should also have an understanding of basic scientific concepts. Both skill sets are covered in Exploring science (S104). You can test your mathematical skills, or refresh them, using the Maths Skills ebook.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service.


Start End England fee Register
01 Oct 2014 Jan 2015 £439.00

Registration closes 18/09/14 (places subject to availability)


The deadline for financial support applications has now passed

October 2014 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.

Ways to pay for this module

Open University Student Budget Account

The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments.

You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

  • Register now, pay later – OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
  • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your annual fees and spreads them out over up to a year, enabling you to pay your fees monthly and walk away with a qualification without any further debt. APR 5.1% representative.

Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).  

Employer sponsorship

Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU qualifications are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to achieve one. They also value the skills that students learn and can apply in the workplace.

More than one in 10 OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the qualification you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could approach your employer to see if they will sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. 

  • Your employer just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.
  • You won’t need to get your employer to complete the form until after you’ve chosen your modules.  

Credit/debit card

You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. 

We accept American Express, Maestro (UK only), Mastercard, Visa/Delta and Visa Electron. 

Gift vouchers

You can pay for part or all of your tuition fees with OU gift vouchers. Vouchers are currently available in the following denominations, £10, £20, £50 and £100. 

Mixed payments

We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. You may, for example wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).

For more information about combining payment options, speak to an adviser.

Note: Your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and therefore the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fees and funding information provided here is based upon current details for  year 1 August 2014 to 31 July 2015.
This information was provided on 18/09/2014.

What's included

All study materials and assessment material will be delivered online.

You will need

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 of them 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 or will not have access to the internet throughout the 10-week module.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this module as it includes online activities, for use with a web browser. There is also software to download and install on your computer.

  • If you have purchased a new desktop or laptop computer running Windows since 2008 you should have no problems completing the computer-based activities.
  • If you’ve got a netbook, tablet or other mobile device it will probably not be suitable for the downloaded software; check our Technical requirements section.
  • If you have an Apple Mac or Linux computer – please note that you can only use it for this module by running Windows on it using Boot Camp or a similar dual-boot system.

You can also visit the Technical requirements section for further computing information (including details of the support we provide).

If you have a disability

Study material will be delivered online but will include printable versions of web pages for students to print off themselves should they wish. Students with hearing 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 may need assistance to complete some experiments. Other alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future.

As the module is web-based, you will need to make extensive use of a personal computer and the internet. If you use specialist hardware or software to assist you in operating a computer or with the types of material outlined above you are advised to talk to the Student Registration & Enquiry Service about the support which can be given to meet your needs.

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.