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The frozen planet

At any one time during the year, ice and snow cover over one-third of our planet. This course explores the wonder of the polar world and explains how ice has shaped – and controls – our planet. The frozen planet is one of a series of short, five month 10-credit courses introducing fascinating topics in science. With a choice of start dates it enables you to try out an area of study before you commit yourself to a longer course, or top up your knowledge and skills between longer courses.

Standalone study only

This module is available for standalone study only. The credits from this module cannot be counted towards an OU qualification.

Module

Module code
S175
Credits
10
Study level
OU SCQF FHEQ
1 7 4
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
See Am I ready?

Student Reviews

A very interesting and informative module. The different activities were engaging and the module language was effective in its teaching....
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Great little course, you will learn a lot about both poles, how they affect our planet and the array of...
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What you will study

At any one time during the year ice and snow cover over one third of our planet: ice has shaped the landscapes, it determines the structure of the ecosystem and the animals that prosper, and it even drives our global climate.

There is more to the two polar regions of our planet than the cold temperatures and hardship we frequently see in the the media. The two poles are very different: a large part of the Arctic is an ocean covered with ice a few metres thick, whilst the Antarctic is mostly covered in ice kilometres thick. But the physical controls on the environment are the same in both cases. In the winter darkness, temperatures decrease and snow and ice advance towards the equator, sometimes leaving the great cities of northern Europe uncomfortable for humans. Yet still, charismatic and well-known wildlife such as whales, walrus, penguins and polar bears flourish in the ecological niches that the polar environment creates. But it is not just the animals – throughout our entire history humans have only known a planet shaped and controlled by ice.

This course is about the science of the frozen planet. It is about the physical controls on the shape and character of our planet over millions of years through to the climate we experience today. You will investigate the different environmental niches where wildlife flourishes, and the strategies some species have developed to exploit them. You will discover the influence of humans on the environment and the motivations and discoveries of the early polar explorers. The poles are justifiably important but also vulnerable and so, throughout the course, you will learn about their current management and fate in the near future.

The course is based on a specially-written OU study book and website which has polar-focused activities and film clips from the spectacular Frozen Planet BBC television series about the environment, the science, and the wildlife.

If you are new to studying science the course will introduce many new concepts and skills as they are needed, showing how the physical and biological worlds link in two of the planets most striking regions.

Teaching and assessment

Assessment

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

You must use the online system to submit your end-of-module assessment (EMA).

You have to submit the single piece of written work for assessment after 21 weeks. There will be no other opportunity to complete the course.

Future availability

The details given here are for the course that starts in April and October 2014, and April 2015 when it will be available for the last time.

Regulations

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.


Entry

Please note: this course is only available for standalone study. You cannot count the credits you gain from the course towards any current OU qualification. It may be possible, however, to count the credits gained towards a qualification if you are already studying with us and have declared your qualification intention before September 2012 – see your qualification description in StudentHome for details.

The course does not assume any previous scientific background and teaches the concepts and skills as they are required. It’s designed for people who are new to the subject area.

Although a little basic knowledge of general science would be useful, all you need is an interest in the polar regions and how they affect the rest of the planet. You will have to understand some basic science, such as physics, geology and biology in order to complete the course. If you have read popular books and magazines on the subject you will find the course develops your understanding and introduces topics that you have not met before.

Mathematically you need only to be able to add, subtract, multiply and divide simple numbers. To cope with the printed material, you should be able to understand in outline the sort of articles printed in a broadsheet newspaper (The Daily Telegraph or The Guardian, for example). You should also be able to write your thoughts down comprehensibly.

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

Register

Start End England fee Register
11 Apr 2015 See description £439.00

Registration closes 02/04/15 (places subject to availability)

Register

You may need to apply for some payment or funding options earlier. Please check the Fees and Funding information or contact us for information.

April 2015 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 or request a call back.


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 01/11/2014.

What's included

OU study book, study guide, online video and audio activities, interactive map, website.

You will need

A basic scientific calculator.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this module as it includes online activities, which you can access using a web browser.

  • If you have purchased a new desktop or laptop computer since 2008 you should have no problems completing the online activities.
  • If you’ve got a netbook, tablet or other mobile device check our Technical requirements section.
  • If you use an Apple Mac you will need OS X 10.7 or later.

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

If you have a disability

A proportion of the course is delivered online via the website, so you will have to make considerable us of a computer and the internet. If you have severely impaired sight you may not be able to achieve some of the course learning outcomes, as the course relies heavily on coloured images, video sequences and visual identification.

Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader and scientific materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. Other alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future.

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.