This diploma of higher education has two stages, each comprising 120 credits.
- You’ll start Stage 1 with a 60-credit introductory science module. What you’ll study for the remaining 60 credits in Stage 1 will depend on the route you decide to take.
- In Stage 2, the modules you’ll get to choose from will also be determined by the route you decide to take.
Stage 1 starts with an introductory science module in which you’ll investigate a series of questions that will teach you scientific thinking.
Next, you’ll have to think about whether you intend to continue with broad-based science or focus on physical science. Especially if you plan to continue to the BSc (Honours).
- If you intend to continue with broad-based science (which includes biology, chemistry, earth sciences and environmental science), study a module that focuses on further key ideas in science.
- If you intend to focus on physical science (which includes physics and astronomy and planetary science), study a mathematics module and another complementary module.
At Stage 2, you’ll continue with the route you chose at Stage 1.
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 17 March 2021.
We make all our qualifications as accessible as possible and have a comprehensive range of services to support all our students. The Diploma of Higher Education in Natural Sciences uses a variety of study materials and has the following elements:
- studying a mixture of printed and 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
- working with specialist reading material such as scientific journals, and with audio and graphic information such as sonograms
- using specialist software
- working in a group with other students
- using and/or producing diagrams and/or screenshots
- 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 Disability support 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; elearning resources like podcasts, interactive media and online materials; tutorial groups and community forums.
Read the detailed learning outcomes here
If you have already studied at university level, you may be able to count it towards your Open University qualification – which could save you time and money by reducing the number of modules you need to study. At the OU we call this credit transfer.
It’s not just university study that can be considered, you can also transfer study from a wide range of professional or vocational qualifications such as HNCs and HNDs.
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 evidence of your previous study.
For more details of when you will need to apply by and to download an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.
On completion of this undergraduate course, we'll award you the Diploma of Higher Education in Natural Sciences.
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 Student Policies and Regulations website.
Check you’re ready for Questions in science (S111) with our self-assessed quiz. We’ve study resources to help you prepare.
If you’re thinking about choosing physical science, check you’re ready for mathematical study at this level by visiting our MathsChoices website.
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
Students who start their study with an Access module are more likely to be successful when they advance to Stage 1 of their qualification. They’re specially designed to give you a gentle introduction to OU study, boost confidence in your study skills, and help you gain a broad overview of your chosen subject area.
You’ll also benefit from:
- feedback from your tutor through regular one-to-one phone tutorials
- support from a dedicated team throughout your study
- detailed written feedback on your work.
The Access module we’d recommend studying in preparation for this qualification is our:
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. 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.
View full details of Science, technology and maths Access module
Skills for career development
In addition to specific learning outcomes, this diploma develops a variety of skills that are highly valued in the labour market, such as analytical, numerical IT and communication skills, teamwork, and problem solving. 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 develop critical thinking and independent research skills, and the ability to take the initiative – all valuable assets in today’s competitive environment.
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.
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.
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 website are available to see at any time, 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
- environmental engineer
- marine biologist
- forensic scientist
- science communicator
- technical consultant
- industrial researcher