What you will study
This flexible, wholly online module allows you to focus in depth on a single topic or to study a selection of three shorter science topics.
Single topic choices include:
Galaxies, stars and planets
This topic explains how the Sun gets its energy, how astronomers observe the Sun and its interior, as well as introducing the planets and their satellites.
Molecules, medicines and drugs: a chemical story
Focus on the chemistry that underlies the development of drugs and medicines that relieve pain and effect cures. And how drugs interact with and affect their target areas in the human body.
Plants and people
Explore the role plants play in our lives, in food, biofuels, bioplastics and medicines – as well as their role in combating climate change.
The frozen planet
Explore the wonder of the polar world and learn how ice has shaped and controls our planet.
Alternatively, you can combine any three shorter topics from the following:
An introduction to exoplanets
Consider the planets beyond our Solar System. Could there be life on them? In this topic, you’ll explore the fascinating new era of exoplanet studies.
Astronomy with an online telescope
Develop a hands-on understanding of telescopic observations using the Open University’s own robotic telescope facility COAST. You’ll learn about stars: what they are, how they produce light, and their evolution over time.
Citizen science and global biodiversity
Focus on biodiversity and explore how anyone can contribute to and be involved in identifying and recording wildlife, as a citizen scientist.
This topic introduces some fundamental chemistry: from atoms, chemical elements, and the Periodic Table to chemical reactions and the formation of large molecules.
Microgravity: living on the International Space Station
Focus on the physics of microgravity environments, including the International Space Station. You’ll discover how microgravity environments are used to study ageing, quantum physics, bacterial resistance and planet formation, as well as consider moral questions such as the cost of space exploration.
Moons of our Solar System
Learn about the fundamental processes that have shaped moons, the relationship between our Moon and Earth, and the space missions that have taught us about moons. You’ll discover the amazing diversity of moons in our Solar System.
The science of alcohol
Learn the chemistry and biology behind the production of alcoholic drinks. How are flavours generated? How do scientists ensure the safety of what we drink? You’ll explore the long- and short-term effects of alcohol on our bodies.
The science of nutrition and healthy eating
This topic introduces the biology, chemistry and physics behind nutrition. Are we really what we eat? How do we know what is in our food?
Understanding antibiotic resistance
Explore the history of antibiotics. How do antibiotics work? What is antibiotic resistance and how does it spread?
This topic introduces the autism spectrum, how it’s experienced by different individuals and families, and why it’s a global concern. You’ll learn how ideas about autism have evolved and explore diagnosis, causes, intervention and life-span development.
You will learn
This module lets you focus your learning on topics that are of interest to you. Alongside developing your understanding of some key scientific concepts, it will enable you to practice and improve your written communication skills. In addition, as this module is delivered online, your online-learning skills will develop. You’ll also participate in reflective practice around your skills development.
By studying this module, you’ll improve your scientific knowledge as well as your skills to communicate science-related information. You’ll also develop your use of digital tools in an online environment. As an independent learner, you’ll demonstrate the ability to plan and reflect on your learning. All these skills are very useful, not only for further study, but also in interviewing and employment.