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Science project course: environmental science practical project

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This module is the project module for the BSc (Hons) Environmental Science. You will undertake an independent practical investigation of a topic within the area of environmental science. You will design your investigation, collect data (this may be in the field, in a laboratory or at home), analyse it and produce a scientific report. The study materials provide a guide to planning and conducting project work; help with searching and using the literature; and writing a report, but ultimately this is a chance for you to plan and execute a piece of work for yourself.

What you will study

Early in the module you will be guided by the study materials and by your tutor to select a specific aspect of your chosen topic to investigate in depth. Topics can be from any suitable area of environmental science; examples include climate effects on phenology; tidal cycle/weather interactions and impact on seashore organisms; effects of pollution on abundance of freshwater organisms; and environmental control of plant growth and water use. Your project will involve the collection of primary data.

Unless you have access to an academic library, you may find that you have to spend up to two thirds of your time in the early part of the module online, identifying suitable material to inform your choice of project topic from the electronic journals available via The Open University Library.

In discussion with your tutor, you will define your individual investigation which must cover the following four aspects:

  • interaction of the biotic and abiotic environment
  • data collection and analysis
  • contextualisation
  • risk assessment.

Entry requirements

This is an OU level 3 module. OU level 3 modules build on study skills and subject knowledge acquired from previous studies at OU levels 1 and 2. They are intended only for students who have recent experience of higher education in a related subject.

You should study this project module as the final module of the BSc (Hons) Environmental Sciences, as you will need to apply knowledge and skills from your prior studies. Normally you should have gained at least 60 credits of the OU level 3 requirements for your degree before starting your project module.

It is essential that you establish whether or not your background and experience give you a sound basis on which to tackle the module, since students who are appropriately prepared have the best chance of completing their studies successfully. The Science Faculty has produced a booklet Are You Ready For your Science Level 3 Project Course? to help you to decide whether you already have the recommended background knowledge or experience to start the module or whether you need a little extra preparation. 

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

Preparatory work

You might find the following book useful for information on devising and carrying out practical project work – OU project guide: Fieldwork and statistics for ecological projects (1989) (2nd ed.) by Neil Chalmers and Phil Parker, ISBN 1851538099, published by the Field Studies Council.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will initiate contact at key points during the module, will mark and comment on your written assignments, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. Your tutor will support you in the process of researching your independent project. Much of your contact with your tutor will be by email or online forums. There is no face-to-face tuition for this module.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.

Assessment

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

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper. 

The TMAs help you to record your progress with the investigation and build up the elements required for the project report. The project is a rigorous piece of science writing and comprises a substantial part of the examinable component. You will be expected to keep a log of your project work and to submit your cumulative log with your TMAs and with the examinable component.

The end-of-module assessment (EMA) must be submitted online.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying SXE390 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

Science project course: environmental science practical project (SXE390) starts once a year – in February. This page describes the module that will start in February 2020. We expect it to start for the last time in February 2021.

Course work includes:

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

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