The study materials, module guide, activities, assignments, forums, online tutorial rooms and other resources are all provided via a dedicated website.
Where possible, the materials will also be available in Microsoft Word and as pdfs. However, some materials and activities will be unsuitable for these formats.
This module has been specially selected for presentation in a different online learning platform to other undergraduate modules that you may have studied with The Open University. We are using this new learning platform because we wish to enhance your learning experience. Early tests with students have shown that it is easy to navigate, provides excellent presentation of the learning materials and allows the module team to better support your learning.
You will need
This module is delivered entirely online via a module website, so you will need a computer together with regular and extensive internet access throughout the module to access the text and figures, engage with the interactive online activities, tutorials and student forums, to keep up-to-date with module news items and to access and submit other materials, including the module assignments.
You are likely to need to draw diagrams or to annotate by hand diagrams that you download, and then use either a scanner or a digital camera to produce files of these diagrams for inclusion in your assessment.
You will need a device with internet access to study this module as a web browser is used to access learning materials and activities. 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. You may need administrative privileges to install software required for this module.
Suitable devices are:
- A Windows desktop or laptop computer running Windows 7 or later operating system
- A Macintosh desktop or laptop computer running OS X 10.8 or later operating system.
A netbook, tablet, smartphone or Linux computer that supports one of the browsers listed below may be suitable. 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.
Recent versions of the following browsers are suitable for web-based activities:
Or Internet Explorer 10 and above.
Using a browser upgraded to the latest version will maximise security when accessing the internet.
Using company or library computers may prevent you accessing some internet materials or installing additional software.
Devices with small screens may make it difficult to view the material provided and carry out the activities. However, a device that has a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and also at least 768 pixels vertically should be adequate.
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
This module is delivered entirely online via a dedicated website, so you will need to spend a considerable amount of time using a personal computer and the internet. This may be challenging for students with fatigue or chronic pain. If you use mobile technology, or specialist hardware or software to assist you in operating a computer or with the types of material outlined above, you are advised to contact us about the support available to meet your needs.
Printable versions of web pages will be available for students to download in order to read offline or print to hard copy. These will be available in Adobe Portable Document (PDF) and Microsoft Word (optimised for screen readers) formats. However some materials and activities will be unsuitable for these formats and not all components of the module will be fully accessible using a screen reader.
Earth Science is by its very nature a very graphical subject and so considerable use is made of a virtual microscope, digital rock kit, maps, graphs, line drawings, tables and equations throughout the module, presented as on-screen text, figures and through online activities. If you have manual dexterity problems you may need assistance to complete some of these activities.
The figures and online activities require good visual acuity for many of the textual diagrams and images. Figures vary in scale and complexity and make use of symbols, shapes and colour as well as scientific notation. Figure descriptions will be provided for figures where these help you to meet the learning outcomes for the module, but these may be lengthy to match the complexity of some of the graphics that are key to the subject matter. However, if you have little or no sight, you should be able to meet most of the module learning outcomes with the support of a sighted helper.
If you have difficulty distinguishing between colours you may need help with the ‘on screen’ virtual microscope/digital kit work and reading some of the complex diagrams.
The virtual microscope and digital rock kit are located within the OpenScience Laboratory and have been designed to meet high accessibility standards. These provide keyboard access for users with dexterity and/or mobility impairments that preclude the use of a mouse. Some activities will make use of Google Earth, so you may need assistance to complete some of these activities.
If you have either a hearing or visual impairment you may have difficulties with some audio-visual content. Written transcripts of audio and video material are provided, and some, but not all, video material is subtitled.
OU Live sessions will form part of the course materials. If you have a hearing impairment, you may have difficulty participating in these tutorials. However, sessions will be recorded and transcripts can be produced on request. You should be able to participate fully in online forum discussions within your tutor group.
All students will need to complete an independent project chosen from a variety of options. The project can be field-based, or conducted undercover (for example, in a museum) or it can be entirely desk-based. You can tailor your project according to your preferences and/or needs with options for students with dexterity and/or mobility impairments.
Part of the module will involve participation in collaborative work with other students. Most of this group work will be within online forums and tutor groups. If this is likely to be difficult for you, additional help and support will be available.
If you have a visual impairment or difficulty with manual dexterity you may find writing and submitting electronic assessment materials a challenge. You will be required to produce diagrammatic and graphical information within the assessment, often by using a scanner or a digital camera to produce files of diagrams, so you may need assistance with the latter.
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.