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

Molecules, medicines and drugs: a chemical story

Explore the discovery and development of a range of drugs and medicines that relieve pain, alleviate symptoms, minimise the risk of infection and effect cures. Molecules, medicines and drugs: a chemical story is one of a series of short, five-month 10-credit modules introducing fascinating topics in science. It is a highly interactive online module that focuses on the chemistry that underlies medicines. With a choice of start dates, this module enables you to try out a new area of study before you commit yourself to a longer module, or top up your knowledge and skills between longer modules.

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
SK185
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

I loved this course from start to finish. I found it was well written and engaging and the TMA was...
Read more

This was a thoroughly worthwhile investment of time. I'm doing a Natural Sciences degree and this module covered a lot...
Read more

PLEASE NOTE: This review and all previous reviews relate to the first edition of this module. The second edition, which...
Read more


Request your prospectus

Explore our subjects and courses

Request your copy now


What you will study

From Hippocrates to modern times, society has sought ways of relieving pain and curing or preventing disease. From ancient wisdom to herbal remedies, there have been important discoveries resulting in the development of medicines that are commonplace today. Modern research at the molecular level constantly adds to the range of drugs available to combat ill-health.

After a brief introduction (which discusses the development and testing of drugs within a social and economic setting), you’ll move on to explore the discovery and development of a range of drugs and medicines that relieve pain, effect cures and alleviate the symptoms of ill-health. You’ll find out how drugs interact with and affect their target areas in the human body. There are online activities to help you to visualise the three-dimensional structures and shapes of the molecules concerned and to develop an understanding of how the drugs work.

The story includes topics on how aspirin relieves aches and pains, Ventolin treats the symptoms of asthma, penicillin combats harmful bacteria and Tamiflu helps in the fight against bird flu. The module makes use of some basic ideas from chemistry and develops some of the skills associated with studying our world at the molecular level. Chemical ideas are explained when they are needed. However, if you are entirely new to the language of chemistry, you will need patience while you become familiar with the vocabulary, and practice applying the new skills that you are learning. The reward will be an understanding of some of the science behind the discovery, development and mode of action of a range of medicines and drugs.

The study materials have been developed specifically for online study – there are no books. The module is delivered completely online via the module website through a variety of online activities: reading text; looking at and manipulating molecular models and chemical structures; studying video or audio sequences about issues relating to drug developments; writing brief notes; and accessing websites. Additional activities and quizzes will help test your understanding.

This module has been partly funded by the Wolfson Foundation in collaboration with The Royal Society of Chemistry.

Teaching and assessment

Assessment

The assessment details for this module 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 module.

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in 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


Entry

Please note: this module is only available for standalone study. You cannot count the credits you gain from the module 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 module does not assume any previous scientific background and teaches the ideas and skills needed as and when they are required. This includes an understanding of how the structures of molecules underpin their properties and hence the uses to which they can be put. You will probably find you can move faster through the module if you have studied some chemistry and/or biology before, but the essential things are an interest in the subject and the motivation to understand some of the science behind it.

You should be able to read and understand written English of a style and complexity characteristic of a professional magazine or quality newspaper, and you should be able to communicate your thoughts clearly and comprehensibly in a written format. Mathematically, you need only to be able to add, subtract, multiply and divide simple numbers. A maths skills ebook is provided to help you with, for example, fractions, percentages, reading graphs and tables, and scientific units as required by the module.

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

Register

Start End England fee Register
04 Oct 2014 See description -

Registration now closed

The deadline for financial support applications has now passed

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.

This module is expected to start for the last time in April 2015.

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 01/10/2014.

What's included

All the study materials will be provided to you online via the website.

You will need

Basic scientific calculator.

You may be required to draw diagrams or to annotate by hand diagrams that you download, and then to use either a scanner or a digital camera to produce files of these diagrams for inclusion in your assessment.

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

The module is completely delivered online via the website, so you will have to spend most of your time using a personal computer and the internet. You may be required to draw diagrams or to annotate by hand diagrams that you download, and then to use either a scanner or digital camera to produce electronic versions of these diagrams for inclusion in your assessment. Alternatively, creating diagrams electronically will be acceptable.

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.