Science project course: science in society project
This is the project module for the BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences. You will undertake an individual investigation of a topic within the area of natural sciences, such as: climate change; agriculture; biological conservation; nuclear power; or genetic engineering. You’ll cover the underpinning science and place your chosen topic in its broad social context, analysing it in relation to communication, risk, ethics and decision-making. You’ll need access to scientific literature, probably from electronic library sources. 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 choose an appropriate topic to investigate in depth. 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. You will need to develop a good understanding of the science underpinning your chosen topic and also to be able to explain this clearly to a non-scientist. However, the distinctive feature of this module is its emphasis on aspects of the interaction of science and society. How can the science behind controversial issues best be communicated to the public? How can the public’s understanding of the very difficult concept of risk be enhanced? How can the public have a say in what science is done on its behalf? Each project should consider communication, risk, ethical issues and decision making in the chosen topic.
SXN390 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 science project module as the final module of your BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences, as you will need to apply knowledge and skills from your prior studies. Normally you should have passed at least 60 credits of the OU level 3 requirements for the your degree – as well as Science in society (S201) or its predecessor Science in context (S250) – before embarking on 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.
A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.
Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.
A desktop or laptop computer with either an up-to-date version of Windows or macOS.
The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.
To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).
Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.