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Certificate of Higher Education in Natural Sciences

This certificate offers a broad introduction to core science subjects while developing essential study skills. You’ll explore biology, chemistry, earth sciences, environmental sciences, physics, astronomy and planetary science.

Key features of the course

  • Provides an introduction to topical areas of modern science, giving you a good grounding in each
  • Includes practical activities that you can do near where you live, or online in your own home
  • Develops skills of reason and logic that are highly prized in the workplace

Course Summary

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Certificate

Certificate

  • Widely-recognised qualification.
  • Equivalent to the first third of an honours degree.
  • Study for interest or career development.
  • Shows that you can study successfully at university level.
  • Count it towards further qualifications such as a foundation degree, DipHE or honours degree.
Course code
T11
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.
120
How long it takes
Part time – 2 years
Time limit – 7 years
Study method
Distance learning

Course details

This certificate of higher education has one stage, comprising 120 credits.

  • In Stage 1, you’ll begin with a 60-credit introductory science module followed by another 60-credit core science module.

Optional Access module – visit Am I ready? to find out about starting this course with a preparatory Access module.

Stage 1 (120 credits)

ModulesCredits
You'll study both of the following:
Questions in science (S111)60
Science: concepts and practice (S112)60

We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 21 March 2018.


Accessibility

We make all our qualifications as accessible as possible and have a comprehensive range of services to support all our students. The Certificate of Higher Education in Natural Sciences uses a variety of study materials and may include the following elements:

  • studying solely online material – online learning resources may include websites, audio/video media clips, and interactive activities such as online quizzes
  • using mathematical and scientific expressions, notations and associated techniques
  • undertaking practical work or using an online laboratory
  • using and/or producing diagrams and/or screenshots
  • using specialist software
  • working in a group with other students
  • finding external/third party material online.

For more detailed information, see the Accessibility Statements on individual module descriptions. If you feel you may need additional support, visit our disability page to find more about what we offer. Contact us as soon as possible to discuss your individual requirements, so we can put arrangements in place before you start.


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, we'll award you 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 qualification-specific regulations below and the academic regulations that are available on our Essential Documents website. 


Entry requirements

Check you’re ready for Questions in science (S111) with our self-assessed quiz. We’ve study resources to help you prepare.

How much time do I need?

  • Most of our students study part time, completing 60 credits a year.
  • This will usually mean studying for 16–18 hours a week.

Find out if you have enough time to study with our time planner

Preparing for study with an Access module

If your study skills are a bit rusty or you want to try out Open University study before committing yourself, don’t worry! The OU offers Access modules designed to introduce the subject area, build your confidence and prepare you for further study, and you may be eligible to study an Access module for free! You'll get:

  • a personal tutor providing regular feedback with one to one telephone tutorials
  • support from a dedicated team throughout your study
  • detailed written feedback.
For this qualification we recommend:

Science, technology and maths Access module

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, 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.

View full details of Science, technology and maths Access module

Your next step

Call us on +44 (0)1908 659253 or book a call back. Our friendly team of advisers will discuss your study options with you, and help you decide on the best starting point for you.

In this section:
How much will it cost?
Ways to pay for your qualification and other support

How much will it cost in England?

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 up front.
  • A qualification comprises a series of modules, each with an individual fee. Added together, they give you the total cost.
  • If, like most OU students, you study part time at a rate of 60 credits a year, you'll take six years to complete an honours degree.
  • Our current fee for 60 credits is £2,928*.
  • Our current fee for 120 credits – which is equivalent to a year's full-time study – is £5,856*.
  • At current prices, the total cost of your qualification would be £5,856*.
  • .

*The fee information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2019. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees.

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.

If you're on a low income you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after you start studying.

Residential schools

This qualification includes science modules that include an optional residential school. For each residential school you choose to attend, you must pay an additional charge to cover costs such as tuition, accommodation and meals (see individual module descriptions for more information). You’ll also have to pay for your own travel to and from the venues.


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.


Register for this course

Start dates

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Our prospectuses help you choose your course, understand what it's like to be an OU student and register for study.

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