Skip to content
You are viewing information for England.  Change country.
Woman looking at plants photo

Certificate of Higher Education in Natural Sciences

Are you fascinated by life’s big questions? Are you thinking about studying for a degree? This certificate is the ideal way to start. It offers a broad introduction to core science subjects while developing essential study skills. You’ll explore biology; chemistry; Earth sciences; environmental sciences; physics; and astronomy and planetary science. By the end of the course, you’ll have a valuable qualification under your belt and have taken the first step on the way to an honours degree.

Key features of the course

  • Develops skills of reason and logic that are highly prized in the workplace
  • Includes practical activities that you can do near where you live, or online in your own home 
  • Builds a solid foundation for further study.

A nationally recognised qualification in its own right, the certificate of higher education is also equivalent to the first third of the BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences (Q64)

time is running out to register

Certificate

Course code
T11
Credits
120
How long it takes
Part time – 2 years
Full time – 1 year
Time limit – 7 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

Request your prospectus

Explore our subjects and courses.

Request your copy today

Course details

This certificate of higher education comprises 120 credits (equivalent to one year's full-time university study).                                   

Stage 1 (120 credits)

You’ll start with a broad and absorbing introduction to study of science, investigating the major scientific issues affecting contemporary society. You’ll also develop the important scientific concepts and skills needed 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

If you’re using this certificate as a stepping stone towards a further qualification, choose your optional modules carefully. For example, you must study Essential mathematics 1 (MST124) if you want to choose physics or astronomy and planetary science at Stage 2 of our BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences (Q64) degree.


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 of Higher Education in Natural Sciences.

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.

Study skills for this qualification

The Certificate of Higher Education in Natural Sciences 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.

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 £5,264 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.

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

In addition to specific learning outcomes, this certificate develops a variety of  transferable skills that are highly valued in the labour market, such as analytical, numerical, IT and communication skills; teamwork,  and problem solving. It will also help you develop critical thinking and independent research skills, and the ability to take the initiative – all valuable assets in today’s competitive environment. Many of these translate very smoothly into the modern workplace, which is increasingly concerned with knowledge management and the effective communication and presentation of ideas and arguments. 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 training, or employment.

Career relevance

Scientists are in demand in the jobs market, particularly if they also have good interpersonal skills and some workplace experience. The logical, reasoned approach needed for science study is relevant to many roles in the financial, business and public sectors – and employers in all fields put a high value on anyone who can deal competently with a large amount of complex information and turn it to good use. The ability to select and analyse relevant data and to present conclusions concisely and logically is essential in most lines of work, as is the ability to communicate clearly both orally and in writing.

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
  • water quality inspector
  • countryside manager
  • forensic scientist
  • biomedical researcher
  • meteorologist
  • geophysicist 
  • toxicologist
  • environmental engineer
  • marine biologist
  • botanist
  • forensic scientist
  • scientific journalist
  • 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.

career_explorer

Study plan - Overview
x