Science, technology and maths Access module
An Access module is a great place to start if you want a gentle introduction to Open University study. It can also help you to find out more about your interests and where you want your learning to take you.
With a mix of theoretical study and some practical experiments, this Access module can help you build up skills for future study in STEM subjects, no matter where you're starting from. Each subject is introduced and explained at a comfortable pace to develop, or refresh, your knowledge of topics including science, engineering and design, environment, mathematics, and computing and IT. It's the perfect way to discover your interests, ease you back into the study habit and prepare for your chosen qualification.
Choose to study an Access module if you:
- want to gradually build up to university-level study with the OU
- would like learning materials prepared with new learners in mind
- need time to decide your future study plans while developing your study skills.
What you will study
This multidisciplinary module is an ideal starting point if you have little or no previous knowledge of the sciences, technology and mathematics. It'll help develop your study skills in advance of your OU qualification, and you get to explore a number of STEM subjects including science, engineering and design, environment, mathematics, and computing and IT.
The module is divided into three blocks:
Block 1: Life
Block 1 which you will study in print, starts with biology and ecological ideas and uses varied examples to describe interrelationships between plants, animals and the wider environment while developing your study skills. You will learn about the unique role of humans, and explore how we have changed the environment to suit our needs through farming or conservation. You’ll consider how we can tell what effect current lifestyles have on the environment by introducing the ecological footprint model and look at sustainable living and how we can conserve declining species and habitats. This block also introduces key mathematical ideas and you will learn techniques to help you tackle everyday mathematical problems.
Block 2: Water
Water is essential for life and fundamental to what we do. In Block 2 you will move to online study where you’ll investigate how water has shaped our planet and our lives. You will learn and develop skills that will aid your understanding and use of a variety of tools used in science. You will also access The Open University Library and the wide variety of materials that this can offer. You will investigate the presence of water in potatoes and how water is required for yeast to respire in some home experiments, and through these home experiments, learn about how we can use experimental data to develop and refine hypotheses. Underpinning this is some essential mathematics and further computing skills to develop your study of science, technology and mathematics.
Block 3: Home
Block 3 which continues online, introduces you to the subjects of design, engineering and computing around the central concept of home. You will find out how homes are designed, and can be designed better, through the use of engineering and computing. Block 3 is a practical block where you will complete a number of design, engineering, and computing activities and experiments. You’ll also be introduced to an online design studio where you will keep a portfolio of the work you do. You’ll also continue to learn mathematics and IT skills to support your developing knowledge of some computing and engineering concepts.
After each block there is an Options week, giving you the opportunity to learn more about an area that interests you. You may also choose the option of catching up, or revisiting material that you missed or would like to engage with again. There are so many things to learn about in science, technology and maths that we can’t possibly fit it all into one module, so this is your opportunity to choose an area that interests you most.
The module includes multimedia material and a website with further study materials and resources as well as online quizzes and interactive exercises to help test your understanding.
As you study this module you will build your confidence and develop your study skills, including:
- reading and interpreting information
- producing written communications
- time management and organisational skills
- problem solving.
You will also have the opportunity to gain skills such as working with audio and video material, using online forums and searching the internet for information. This experience will provide you with a gentle introduction to using a computer to support your study, and will equip you with the basic IT skills you will need for the next step in your studies.
Towards the end of the module you will have the opportunity to participate in activities which will help you to make decisions about your future study plans.
On successful completion of this module you will receive an Open University Access Module Certificate.
No special knowledge or previous experience is required. You can study our Science, technology and maths Access module on a standalone basis, or to prepare for your OU qualification. The module won’t count towards a future qualification, but we know that students who start with an Access module are more likely to succeed. It may mean that you will study for longer, but it’s well worth the investment.
The study materials have been prepared with the needs of new learners in mind, so it’s great if you’re a beginner or returning to study. You’ll use your general knowledge and interests to gradually build up to university-level study. This module will develop key study skills such as time management, note taking, reading for study purposes and reflection on your own learning.
This module is only available if you live in the UK, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, the Republic of Ireland, or if you have a British Forces Post Office (BFPO) address.
You'll have access to a module website, which includes:
- a week-by-week study planner
- course-specific module materials
- audio and video content
- assignment details and submission section
You'll also be provided with four printed module books, a study planner and assessment guide.
Digital copies (PDFs and web versions) of most study materials, and transcripts of the video and audio material can be found on the website. A DVD is available on request if you cannot access the video and audio materials any other way.
You will need
You will require access to a phone, a digital camera (or camera on a smartphone) and the use of a computer with internet access.
The module includes some simple home experiments which will require access to some basic kitchen and other equipment, including (but not restricted to): a ruler; a kitchen weighing scale; a 1 litre measuring jug; various household items e.g. tinned food; a clock or watch; dried lasagne sheets, potatoes, sugar and yeast. If you are unable to undertake the experiments we will provide alternative ways to enable you to take part in the experiment.
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.