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Certificate in Physics

Physics is perhaps the most exciting intellectual adventure of our age – discoveries being made now will change your life, and learning physics will change the way you think about the world. This certificate provides a wide-ranging introduction to physics and its applications, covering classical mechanics, thermal physics,  fields, waves, relativity, and quantum physics of solids, atoms and nuclei – setting many of them in their historical context. It also gives you a fascinating introduction to experimental physics. 

Key features of the course

  • Provides a good basic foundation in physics
  • Includes hands-on, practical science activities 
  • Develops skills of reason and logic that are highly prized in the workplace
  • Builds a solid foundation for further study.

Certificate

Course code
S20
Credits

Credits

  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
90
How long it takes
Part time – 2 years
Time limit – 4 years
Study method
Distance learning
Course cost
See Fees & funding
Entry requirements
For details see Am I ready?

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Course details

This certificate comprises 90 credits.

Stage 1 (90 credits)

The course begins with the big ideas of physics, setting them in contemporary and historical context – from motion, gravity and electromagnetism to thermodynamics, relativity and quantum theory, including an introduction to its applications to solids, atoms and nuclei. You’ll also do some practical science (with the chance to use equipment like bench-top NMR spectrometers and astronomical telescopes online from home), and take part in a team project. 


Compulsory modules (90 credits)

  • Physics: from classical to quantum (S217) planned for October 2015. This is a highly accessible module designed to give you an appreciation of the wide relevance of physical principles to the natural and technological worlds.

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

On completion

On completion of this undergraduate course, you will be awarded the Certificate in Physics.

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.


Entry requirements

There are no formal entry requirements to study this qualification. However, this is an OU level 2 certificate. You should ensure that you have adequate study skills, such as gained from OU level 1 study or its equivalent, before you begin.

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.

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.

*The fee information provided here is valid for courses starting before 31 July 2015. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation. Fees information for courses starting between 1 August 2015 – 31 July 2016 will be available in March 2015.

  • 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 £3,948* based on our current fees.

Additional costs

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.

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 for courses starting before 1 August 2015. Updated information for courses starting after this will be available in March 2015.




How many credits are you planning to study per year? You will need [xxx] credits to complete this qualification

Part time study

Full time study


Do you already hold a degree?

Are you employed?

British Forces

  • Only currently serving members of the British armed forces, who are temporarily and unavoidably working abroad and using BFPO addresses, are eligible to pay UK course fees for the total time spent outside the UK. Other students who are able to use BFPO addresses need to contact the Student Registration and Enquiry Service (SRS) Pricing Area Team on +44 (0)300 303 5303 for UK fee eligibility to be assessed.
* The fee and funding information provided here is valid for courses starting before 31 July 2015. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation. Fees for courses starting from 1 August 2015 will be available in March 2015.

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

Employees with science qualifications are in demand in the jobs market, particularly if they also have good interpersonal skills and some workplace experience. In addition to specialist knowledge and understanding in the area of physics, this certificate will develop skills in basic scientific literacy and numeracy, locating and interpreting scientific data, and using a computer to find and communicate information. It also offers a sound foundation for progressing to an honours degree in a relevant area.

Career relevance

This certificate is particularly useful if you’re required to teach secondary school physics but your background is in another area of science, or if you’re thinking about training to be a physics teacher. It is endorsed by the Institute of Physics as providing sufficient content to support the teaching of secondary school physics to A-level; and as providing sufficient content for those seeking to be physics specialists on entry to PGCE studies. 

Other careers

People with science qualifications 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.

In addition to improving your career prospects, studying with the OU is an enriching experience that broadens your horizons, develops your knowledge, builds your confidence and enhances your life skills. 

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):

  • science teacher
  • astronomer
  • research assistant
  • forensic scientist
  • meteorologist
  • geophysicist 
  • toxicologist
  • environmental engineer
  • laboratory technician
  • 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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