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Developing research skills in science

This module builds on your undergraduate level science to develop a strong appreciation of postgraduate research skills. It will develop knowledge and understanding of techniques and skills applicable to postgraduate scientific study and research methodologies and critical awareness of literature. It will support you in understanding and evaluating current research. You will use ICT to develop your information literacy skills, to communicate and to collaborate with others. You will also learn to act autonomously in planning and implementing work at a professional level. You will recognise how skills are continually developed through experience and can be transferred to other situations.

Vocational relevance

Communication and project management skills are relevant and broadly applicable in the workplace. In this module you will need to write for or speak to different audiences and for different purposes. Through developing a scientific project, you will gain an appreciation of the role of project management and the need to allocate appropriate budgets and resources.

These skills are readily transferable to situations encountered when working for commercial or government organisations or carrying out your own research projects where information and data are being gathered and analysed.


S825 is a compulsory module in our:

S825 is an optional module in our:

This module can also count towards M03 and F53, which are no longer available to new students.

Postgraduate Loans

If you study this module as part of an eligible qualification, you may be eligible for a Postgraduate Loan. For more information, see Fees and funding.

Excluded combinations

Sometimes you will not be able to count a module towards a qualification if you have already taken another module with similar content. To check any excluded combinations relating to this module, visit our excluded combination finder or check with an adviser before registering.


Module code


  • 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.
Study level

Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU postgraduate modules correspond to these frameworks.

OU Postgraduate
Study method
Distance learning
Find out more in Why the OU?
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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What you will study

This module has been designed to develop a coherent understanding and appreciation of current digital information literacy techniques and skills that are required by postgraduate students to fully engage with appropriate research methodologies relevant to their disciplines. It also develops a critical awareness of the dynamic nature of the digitally research environment.

We recommend that you study this module at the start of your postgraduate Science study. However you may wish to include it in your study plans after you have completed one of the postgraduate modules due to their varying start dates.

The study materials are provided entirely online through a dedicated website. You are expected to access the website frequently and engage with others in the online forums on a regular basis.

You will learn

Through a series of staged and integrated activities (that range from self-directed study to scheduled collaborative events), you are encouraged to develop a range of transferable, employability skills, associated with effective planning and implementation of work at a professional level. Throughout the module, you are required to actively engage in self-reflection and develop an awareness of the need to continually review and revise their research and academic literacy skills to ensure currency in practice.

This module centres around the development of a proposal for a scientific project based on the module theme of ‘metals’. You will develop an awareness of and the skills needed for project development and management.

The module comprises of ten blocks of study that cover:

  1. Information literacy skills (Part 1): designed as an ‘initial refresher’ of current skills, the block will introduce the student to postgraduate information literacy skills, and the need to continuously develop these skills when carrying out scientific research
  2. Scientific investigation and experimental design: introduces some fundamental ideas about the method of scientific investigations, and a major theme is the formulation and testing of hypotheses
  3. Analysing scientific data and interpreting results: explains the principles underlying several frequently used, and frequently encountered statistical tests
  4. Presentation skills - writing (Part 1): develops the writing skills needed to produce different types of scientific articles produced by researchers during their academic careers, focusing in particular on the journal paper and the postgraduate thesis
  5. Information literacy skills (Part 2): further develops the skills acquired during Block 1 and introduces some new topics related to working effectively with primary, secondary and grey literature
  6. Risk assessment: focuses on how researchers assess the potential risk to health that their research work poses and how this risk can be managed. It covers research in the laboratory and in the field, and discusses the hazards specific to each
  7. Developing scientific projects (Part 1): introduces some of the methodologies, tools and skills needed to develop a scientific project
  8. Developing scientific projects (Part 2): offers guidance and advice on how to prepare the sorts of research proposals students are likely to encounter in other Masters modules and PhD research
  9. Presentation skills (Part 2): focuses on two key types of oral presentation in science - the conference and academic poster, it builds upon the presentation skills developed in Block 4, specifically the importance of careful preparation for the intended audience
  10. Professional skills - leadership and team building: develops understanding, appreciation and awareness of the importance of working effectively as part of a team in an academic environment and in the workplace. (NB: An integral and important part of this block is the collaborative activity that feeds directly into the EMA.)

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. Electronic communication will be used extensively, including for assignment submission.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details can be found in the facts box above.

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper.

Two tutor marked assignments and the work you have completed during course activities will build towards the end-of-module assessment (EMA) which is also submitted electronically.

Course work includes

2 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

Course satisfaction survey

See the satisfaction survey results for this course.

Future availability

Developing research skills in science (S825) starts once a year – October 2018 is last time it will start.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Essential Documents website.

    Entry requirements

    To register for any of our masters-level science modules you must normally hold a  UK honours degree (or equivalent qualification) in science or a science-related subject. If you have other study or experience that you believe equips you to study at postgraduate level you can still apply, but must supply evidence of that study or experience. Your case will be referred to our MSc in Science Admissions Panel. For further advice, contact the postgraduate science team.

    As the module is presented online and requires you to carry out regular online searches and reviews, you will need to be comfortable with working online (e.g. accessing the OU Library, carrying out standard online searches, downloading files, and so on). We recognise that everyone will start this module with some understanding and experience of searching for, and working with different types of information (both online and in printed format). you will build on this to develop a more systematic approach to academic literacy in a rapidly changing digital environment. You will also need good general computing skills (e.g. use email, use word processing, and spreadsheet packages and take part in online forums).

    All teaching is in English and your proficiency in the English language should be adequate for the level of study you wish to take. We strongly recommend that students have achieved an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of at least 7. To assess your English language skills in relation to your proposed studies you can visit the IELTS website.

    If you have any doubt about the suitability of the course, please speak to an adviser.


    Start End England fee Register
    06 Oct 2018 Apr 2019 £1190.00

    Registration closes 13/09/18 (places subject to availability)

    October 2018 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.

    Future availability

    Developing research skills in science (S825) starts once a year – October 2018 is last time it will start.

    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

    We know there’s a lot to think about when choosing to study, not least how much it’s going to cost and how you can pay.

    That’s why we keep our fees as low as possible and offer a range of flexible payment and funding options. To find out more see Fees and funding.

    Study materials

    What's included

    Web-based text and software, via the website, and access to the science literature through The Open University Library.

    Computing requirements

    A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module.  Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

    Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

    A desktop or laptop computer with either:

    • Windows 7 or higher
    • macOS 10.7 or higher

    The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To participate in our online-discussion area you will need both a microphone and speakers/headphones. 

    Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students. 

    If you have a disability

    This module is delivered entirely online through the website including the use of tools such as forums, wikis and informal group discussions in virtual 'rooms', as well as accessing scientific literature resources electronically. Consequently time spent using a computer and online will be considerable, if you use specialist hardware or software to assist you in operating a computer or the internet and have any concerns about accessing the types of study materials outlined you are advised to contact us about support which can be given to meet your needs.

    The core teaching materials are available in Adobe PDF or printable or downloadable format on the website. Some of the online or Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully assessable using a screen reader and mathematical and scientific materials as well as diagrams may be particularly difficult to read in this way. This course depends heavily on reading and writing text on computer screens which may be challenging for some disabled students. Communication with your tutor will be mostly by email.

    If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Find out more about our services for disabled students.