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MSc in Science


This MSc course offers an opportunity to examine some of contemporary science's most pressing issues and to develop a wide range of skills associated with masters-level study. You can choose any of the current modules within the postgraduate science programme, which means that you can tailor this MSc to suit your own interests. Our modules include areas such as Earth science, medicinal chemistry, medical physics and science and society. Most modules are taught, but there is also a project module, enabling you to undertake a substantial piece of independent research. You can also include some options from other disciplines.

Planning your studies

To register on any of the MSc in Science modules you must normally hold an 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 take this qualification you can still apply, but must supply evidence of your study or experience. Your case will be referred to the MSc in Science Admissions Panel. For further advice, email the postgraduate science team.

You will need good computing skills (e.g. able to search the Web, use email, use word processing packages. Some modules also require you to be able to carry out mathematical manipulations (e.g. algebraic rearrangement of equations, use exponentials and logs). Please see the individual module descriptions to ensure that you are properly prepared before starting to study for this qualification.

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 you 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.

We recommend that you study no more than 90 credits a year, and you must complete the programme within seven years. You can count a maximum of 60 credits from project work towards the degree. We cannot guarantee that the same selection of modules will continue to be available. 

You can take your chosen modules in any order, except that you are expected to have completed at least one of the taught science modules before you undertake the project module. If you are new to postgraduate level study we recommend that you take Developing research skills in science (S825) as your first module.

You should note that the University’s unique study rule applies to this qualification. This means that you must include at least 60 credits from OU modules that have not been counted in any other OU qualification that has previously been awarded to you.

Career relevance and employability

Completing this qualification will equip you with a base of postgraduate level knowledge and understanding in science as well as providing you with a set of key transferable skills which will be relevant to your career. You will learn to critically evaluate current research and advanced scholarship in your field of study as well as evaluating research methodologies. You will discover how to deal with complex issues and make sound judgements and decisions in complex and unpredictable situations.

You will learn to communicate information and conclusions to specialist and non-specialist audiences including professional audiences, demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a postgraduate level.

The nature of this MSc course will develop your independent learning skills and enhance your ICT skills in locating information and communicating with others in both professional and academic contexts.

There is more information about how OU study can improve your employability in the OU’s Employability Statement from our Careers Advisory Service. You can also read or download our publication OU study and your career and look at our subject pages to find out about career opportunities.

Suggested routes to the degree

You can take a number of different routes towards your qualification. The route illustrated below is a route many students are using, or have already successfully followed. 

Please bear in mind that other routes are available – see the full module list for all options.


For this 180-credit masters degree you require:

120 credits from the following optional modules:

Postgraduate optional modules Credits Next start
Communicating science in the information age (SH804)

Consider how science is communicated between professionals and to members of the public – from academic journals to popular science books, TV and news reports.

See full description

60 Jan 2015 FINAL
Concept to clinic (S827)

This module provides an overview of the drug discovery and development process from a modern and historical perspective and introduces you to a range of issues in drug discovery.

See full description

30 Oct 2015
Contemporary issues in brain and behaviour (SD815)

You will draw on biological, psychological and social sciences to investigate psychosis and dementia, conditions that are of major global health concern and socio-economic impact.

See full description

60 Jan 2015
Contemporary issues in science learning (SEH806)

Investigate key issues in contemporary science teaching, including the influence of theories of learning; the purposes of science education; and using ICT to support learning.

See full description

60 Jan 2015 FINAL
Developing research skills in science (S825)

This module helps you develop your knowledge and understanding of the research skills and techniques relevant to scientific study at postgraduate level.

See full description

30 Oct 2015
Earth science: a systems approach (S808)

Introduces a systems approach to Earth science and explores several important Earth system interactions using a variety of methods and models.

See full description

60 Jan 2015
Imaging in medicine (S809)

Explore the diagnostic and therapeutic use of medical imaging – including X-ray; ultrasound; magnetic resonance and radionuclide – and consider the risks and social issues involved.

See full description

60 Jan 2015 FINAL
Molecules in medicine (S807)

Examine the molecular basis of drug action in medicine, covering topics like infectious diseases (bacterial and viral), cancer, heart disease, inflammation and neuropharmacology.

See full description

60 Jan 2015
Strategic management in life sciences and healthcare (S811)

Introduces you to the business and operational aspects of the life science industry and helps you understand the challenges and conventional wisdom within this industry.

See full description

60 Oct 2015

Or, subject to the rules about excluded combinations, the discontinued modules BS811, DS871, ES821, S802, S803, S804, S819, S820, SD805

Or 90 credits from the above list plus 30 credits from the following optional modules:

Postgraduate optional modules Credits Next start
Environmental decision making: a systems approach (T863)

This module uses systems ideas to explore environmental decision-making situations, to make sense of their complexity and to look for feasible changes and action.

See full description

30 Nov 2014 FINAL
Forensic engineering (T839)

This module analyses the problems arising from product failure caused by inadequate materials, poor manufacturing or bad design – and offers guidance on good product design.

See full description

30 Nov 2014 FINAL
Managing for sustainability (T867)

This module will increase your understanding of delivering and supporting sustainability management in your workplace or support your personal interest in this subject.

See full description

30 Nov 2014

Or, subject to the rules about excluded combinations, the discontinued modules D830, D831, D832, D843, E827, E845, H804, H805, T830, T833, T834, T835, T838, T860, T861, T862, TXX861, TUXX863

And 60 credits from the following compulsory module:

Postgraduate compulsory module Credits Next start
MSc project module (S810)

Plan and carry out an investigation of your own choice with this masters-level project course in science, and develop essential skills like report writing.

See full description

60 Nov 2014

Learning outcomes

The learning outcomes of this qualification are described in four areas:

  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Cognitive skills
  • Practical and professional skills
  • Key skills
Read more detailed information about the learning outcomes, and how they are acquired through teaching, learning and assessment methods.

Credit for previous study elsewhere

If you have already completed some successful study at postgraduate level at another institution you may be able to transfer credit for this study and count it towards this Open University qualification. If you wish to apply to transfer credit you must do so as soon as possible as it may affect your choice of OU modules. If you are awarded credit for study completed elsewhere, you may find that you need to study fewer OU modules to complete your qualification with us.

Visit our Credit Transfer site for more information and details of how to apply for credit transfer.

On completion

On successful completion of the required modules you can be awarded a Master of Science entitling you to use the letters MSc (Science) (Open) after your name. The degree will be classified as pass, merit or distinction. You will have the opportunity of being presented at a degree ceremony.


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.

How to register

If you want to study for this qualification, read the description and check you meet any specific requirements (for example, some of our qualifications, require you to be working in a particular environment, or be sponsored by your employer). Then select the module you wish to study first and ensure it is suitable for you before following the registration procedure for that module. During the registration procedure you will be asked to declare which qualification you are studying towards.

See a full list of modules available for this qualification

About this Taught Masters
Code F12
Level Postgraduate
Made up of 180 credits

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