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BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences

We live in a society that depends on science, but how many of us really understand the science behind the important issues that feature in the news? Whether you’re keen to study a specific area of science, or you’re not yet sure where your interests lie – say in physics or biology – this degree is for you. 

Key features of the course

  • Starts with a wide-ranging introduction to highly topical areas of modern science, giving you a good grounding in each
  • Carry on with a broad-based approach, or focus on a particular area – choosing from astronomy and planetary science, biology, chemistry, Earth sciences, environmental sciences or physics 
  • Opt for hands-on laboratory and field work, or take part online from home
  • Build valuable transferable skills such as analytical, numerical and communication skills, team working, problem solving and IT.
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Degree

Course code
Q64
Credits
360
How long it takes
Part time – 6 years
Full time – 3 years
Time limit – 16 years
Study method
Distance learning
Course cost
See Fees & funding
Entry requirements
None

Are you ready for study?
Find out here

Register for this course

Start dates

Credit transfer: apply by 14/08/2014
Credit transfer: apply by 11/12/2014

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Course details

This degree has three stages, each comprising 120 credits (equivalent to one year's full-time university study). Stage 1 provides the underpinning knowledge and skills needed for more advanced study at Stages 2 and 3.

Stage 1 (120 credits)

Everyone starts with a broad and absorbing introduction to study of science. You’ll investigate the major scientific issues affecting contemporary society, and develop important scientific concepts and skills to give you a solid foundation for higher level study. You'll then be introduced to practical science, before completing Stage 1 with an optional module.


Compulsory modules (90 credits)

  • Exploring science (S104)

    Develop key scientific skills and explore a range of fascinating concepts and topics, including genetics, drugs, global warming, atoms, and the origin of the Universe.

  • Investigative and mathematical skills in science (S141)

    With this module you’ll develop your experimental, investigative and mathematical skills as well gaining a better understanding of the weather and how it is forecast.

Decision to make

Your choice of optional module will be affected by your route through this degree. You must study Essential mathematics 1 (MST124) if you want to choose physics or astronomy and planetary science at Stages 2 and 3.

Stages 2 and 3 (240 credits)

You can choose to continue with a broad-based study of science, or to focus your studies on one of:

  • Biology – the structure and function of cells, the importance of cell biology in human health and technology, how evolutionary adaptation contributes to the survival of whole organisms 
  • Chemistry – the essential concepts of chemistry underpinning the development of everyday materials, medicines and microchips 
  • Earth sciences – the Earth’s structure; volcanoes, earthquakes and plate tectonics; the structure and geological history of rocks and minerals
  • Environmental sciences – holistic study of Earth, air, water and life through topics such as global warming, water resources, pollution and conservation 
  • Physics – energy, the behaviour of light, radioactive decay and Universal processes
  • Astronomy and planetary science – the stars and their life cycles, galaxies and quasars, planetary processes, the origin of the Universe, and evidence for extra-terrestrial life.


The modules quoted in this description are currently available for study. However, as we review the curriculum on a regular basis, the exact selection may change over time.


Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment

This qualification develops your learning in four main areas:

  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Cognitive skills
  • Practical and professional skills
  • Key skills

The level and depth of your learning gradually increases as you work through the qualification. You’ll be supported throughout by the OU’s unique style of teaching and assessment – which includes a personal tutor to guide and comment on your work; top quality course texts; e-learning resources like podcasts, interactive media and online materials; tutorial groups and community forums.

Read the detailed learning outcomes here

Credit transfer

If you have already studied at university level, you may be able to count it towards your Open University qualification – reducing the number of modules you need to study. It’s not just study completed at a university that can be considered, you can transfer study from a wide range of professional qualifications as well. A full list of the qualifications and institutions we can consider for credit transfer can be found on our credit transfer website.

You should apply for credit transfer before you register, at least 4 weeks before the registration closing date. We will need to know what you studied, where and when and you will need to provide original evidence of your previous study. We will compare this against the learning outcomes for your chosen qualification and inform you of any award.

For more details of when you will need to apply by and to download an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.


Classification of your degree

On successfully completing this undergraduate course, you'll be awarded the BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences degree. You'll have the opportunity to attend a degree ceremony.

The class of degree (first, second or third class honours) depends on your grades at Stages 2 and 3.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the following regulations:

These regulations are also available on our Essential Documents website


Compare this course

Entry requirements

There are no formal entry requirements to study this qualification.

Study skills for this qualification

The BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences (Q64) begins with the module Exploring science (S104) which builds a solid foundation for further study. Although it’s an introductory module, to get the best from it you’ll need some knowledge of science concepts and mathematical skills, and the ability to read and write to a good standard of English. You can use our online diagnostic tool Are you ready for science study? to help you decide if you’re ready, or if you could do with some extra preparation.

If you’re thinking about choosing astronomy and planetary science at Stages 2 and 3, check that you’re ready for mathematical study at this level by visiting our MathsChoices website.

General study skills

Anyone can study with The Open University, but if it's a while since you did any academic work it's worth checking that your time management, computing and English skills are up to speed. Visit Can I do it? to find out more.

Help! I'm not ready

If your study skills are a bit rusty or you want to try out Open University study before committing yourself, don't worry! You can get started with an Access module – fascinating courses designed to introduce a subject area, build your confidence and prepare you for further study.

For this qualification, we recommend:

Science, technology and maths Access module

What you will study

This fascinating, multidisciplinary module is an ideal starting point if you have little or no previous knowledge of the sciences, technology and mathematics, and would like to develop both your subject knowledge and your study skills. The subjects included are science, engineering and design, environment, mathematics, and computing and IT.

The module is divided into three blocks:

Block 1: Life

Block 1 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’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 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.

The module includes a DVD and website which include 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.

Please note that you will need access to the internet and a computer to study and pass this module. You will need to use a computer early on in the module but not straight away, so if you don’t currently have one you’ve got time to make arrangements. You can use your own computer or one at a library or drop-in centre.

On successful completion of this module you will receive an Open University Access Module Certificate.

Course work includes:

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
6 Interactive computer-marked assignments (iCMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

Your next step

Call our Student Registration & Enquiry Service on +44 (0)1908 659253. Our friendly team of advisers will discuss your study options with you, and help you decide on the best starting point for you. Or come and meet us at an event near you.

How much will it cost?

We believe cost shouldn’t be a barrier to achieving your potential. That’s why we work hard to keep the cost of study as low as possible and have a wide range of flexible ways to pay to help spread, or even reduce, the cost.

  • Fees are paid on a module-by-module basis – you won't have to pay for the whole of your qualification upfront.
  • If like most OU students studying part time, you study an average of 60 credits a year – you’ll study for six years to complete a degree. Our typical fee for 60 credits is £2,632.
  • Our current fee is £5,264 – based on 120 credits of study – which is equivalent to a year's full-time study.
  • The total cost of your chosen qualification starts from £15,792 based on our current fees.

Typical cost per year

Select the number of credits you are planning to study per year. Most OU students study 60 credits a year, for some qualifications it is possible to study more or less credits.

Additional costs

Study costs

There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a laptop, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

Residential school fees

This course may contain a residential school, when you study this the tuition fee may not include accommodation and meals, and you may be asked to pay an additional fee of up to £255. You will also be responsible for the cost of your travel to the venue. If you're on a low income you will be able to apply for help with these costs after you've registered. 

Ways to pay for your qualification and other support

We know there’s a lot to think about when choosing to study, not least how you can pay. That’s why we offer a wide range of flexible payment and funding options to help make study more affordable than you might think. Options include Tuition Fee Loans (also known as student loans), monthly payment plans and employer sponsorship. 

We’re confident we can help you find an option that’s right for you.

Just answer these simple questions to find out more about the options available to you.

 

An OU qualification will always help you stand out from the crowd, now and in the future – whether you’re just starting out, developing your career, or changing direction entirely.

Skills for career development

By the time you achieve your qualification, you’ll be an adaptable graduate with a range of transferable skills that are highly valued in the labour market – such as analytical, numerical and communication skills, teamworking, problem solving and proficiency in using computers. You’ll also have a good understanding of where your strengths and interests lie, and be well prepared for your next step – whether it’s further study or employment.

Employers also look for evidence of experience of the workplace to support the skills gained through the degree. To succeed, graduates will need to be flexible and multi-skilled, with the ability to work in a multidisciplinary environment.

Career relevance

Science graduates are well placed to enter both scientific and non-scientific jobs. The logical, reasoned approach needed for science study is relevant to a wide range of financial, business and public sector employment, so science graduates – particularly those who have good communication and interpersonal skills – are in demand.

Employers include central and local government, the NHS, the water industry, food and drink companies, the horticultural industry, multinational oil companies, the pharmaceutical industry, conservation bodies and universities – in roles such as:

  • research and investigation
  • product design and development
  • analysis and diagnostics
  • science information management
  • exploration and extraction of natural resources
  • health and healthcare related professions
  • waste management, recycling and sustainability
  • environmental management, protection and conservation
  • teaching (science is a shortage subject at secondary school level, so there may be incentives to train as a physics, chemistry or maths teacher).

Growth areas are predicted to be: environment, energy and sustainability; biotechnology and biomedical engineering; healthcare; telecommunications; pharmaceuticals; bioinformatics; and technology transfer (transfer of scientific expertise to commercial products).

Exploring your options

Once you register with us (and for up to three years after you finish your studies), you’ll have full access to our careers service for a wide range of information and advice – including online forums, website, interview simulation, vacancy service as well as the option to email or speak to a careers adviser. Some areas of the careers service website are available for you to see now, including help with looking for and applying for jobs. You can also read more general information about how OU study enhances your career.

In the meantime if you want to do some research around this qualification and where it might take you, we’ve put together a list of relevant job titles as a starting point (note that some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree):

  • science teacher
  • countryside manager
  • science administrator or manager
  • technical writer
  • biomedical researcher
  • meteorologist
  • geophysicist
  • toxicologist
  • environmental engineer
  • marine biologist
  • botanist
  • forensic scientist
  • science communicator
  • technical consultant
  • industrial researcher.

Want to see more jobs? Use the career explorer for job ideas from the National Careers Service, PlanIT Plus in Scotland and Prospects across all nations. You can also visit GradIreland for the Republic of Ireland.

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