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MSc in Science

This masters course will enable you to examine some of contemporary science's most pressing issues and to develop a wide range of skills associated with masters-level study. The MSc includes taught modules and a compulsory project module which gives you the opportunity to explore a topic in further depth, and to undertake a substantial piece of independent research based on the knowledge and skills you will have developed in the taught modules. You have the flexibility to choose from a number of optional taught modules currently on offer within the science postgraduate programme (in areas such as Earth Science, Brain and Behavioural Science and Medicinal Chemistry), and tailor this MSc to suit your own interests. 

Masters degree

Course 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.
How long it takes
1.75–7 years
Read more about how long it takes
Study method
Distance learning
Find out more in Why the OU?
Course cost
See Fees and funding
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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Course details

Suggested routes to the degree

You can take a number of different routes towards your qualification. The routes illustrated below are routes 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
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 03 Oct 2015
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 30 Jan 2016
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 30 Jan 2016
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 03 Oct 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 03 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 30 Jan 2016

Or, subject to the rules about excluded combinations, the discontinued modules BS811, DS871, ES821, S802, S803, S804, S809, S819, S820, SD805, SEH806, SH804.

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

Postgraduate optional modules Credits Next start
Making environmental decisions (T891)

Defining environment to include biophysical, social, political, economic factors, this module uses a systems framework to integrate environment with other elements in environmental decision-making situations.

See full description

30 07 Nov 2015
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 07 Nov 2015

Or, subject to the rules about excluded combinations, the discontinued modules D830, D831, D832, D843, E827, E845, H804, H805, T830, T833, T834, T835, T838, T839, T860, T861, T862, T863, 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 07 Nov 2015

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

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 transfer

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. Please note that credit transfer will not apply to the MSc project module (S810).

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 will 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.

Entry requirements

To study for the MSc in Science you must normally hold a UK honours degree (or equivalent qualification) in science. 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 Science Postgraduate Team.

You will also need good computing skills and a level of proficiency in the English language that is adequate for study at postgraduate level. The following should give you some indication of the basic IT and language skills we expect students to have before enrolling on our postgraduate qualifications in science. Please refer to individual module descriptions to ensure that you are adequately prepared before starting to study for this qualification.

Proficiency in the use of English: All of our taught modules are in English and your proficiency in the English language should be adequate for postgraduate study. If English is not your first language, we strongly recommend that you have achieved an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of at least 7. You can assess your English language skills in relation to your proposed studies by visiting the IELTS website.

Due to the demands that studying the degree will make on you, we recommend that you take no more than 90 credits a year, and you must complete the programme within seven years. We cannot guarantee that the same selection of modules will continue to be available. 

Your choice of topic for the project module must relate to the knowledge-based learning outcomes of one of the taught modules that you have passed, and we would normally expect you to undertake the project module as the last stage in this qualification. 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

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

You will also learn to communicate information and conclusions to specialist and non-specialist (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 qualification will develop your independent learning skills, enhance your skills in locating information and communicating with others in both professional and academic contexts.

You can find 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.