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MSc in Science and Society


Please note that this qualification is only available until 31 December 2017. In order to claim this qualification you must have completed the required 180 credits by this time. This qualification is not available to new students.

If you have any questions about your eligibility for this qualification please contact the Centre for Qualifications and Ceremonies on +44 (0)1908 653003 or by email.

This masterd course is for students who want to explore aspects of science and society at postgraduate level. It offers an opportunity to pursue contemporary issues in science communication, science education and public engagement with science, using the innovative teaching methods pioneered by The Open University, and to develop a wide range of skills associated with masters-level study. Two component modules are taught, and the project module allows you to undertake a substantial piece of independent research, based on the knowledge and skills you will have developed in the taught modules.

Planning your studies

To study for the MSc in Science and Society you must normally hold a UK honours degree (or equivalent qualification) in science, or other relevant honours degree related to this qualification. Relevant honours degrees include communications, museum or media studies, science education, or qualifications in the history, philosophy or sociology of 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 that study or experience. Your case will be referred to our 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 also refer to individual module descriptions to ensure that you are adequately prepared before starting to study for this qualification.

Basic IT Skills: Our science postgraduate modules are delivered online, and consequently rely heavily on the use of IT. For example, you will need to access core reading materials, audiovisual and other online resources, communicate with other students, with your tutors and with module teams, search for information, and produce and submit assignments online. Some IT skills are taught within our modules, but you should have a basic level of competence before starting with us (e.g. be able to search the Web, use email, use word processing packages and take part in online forums). 
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.

There is a time limit for completing this MSc. In order to claim this qualification you must have completed the required 180 credits by 31 December 2017. 

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. 

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 key transferable skills which will be relevant to current debates about science and society.  You will learn to critically evaluate current research and advanced scholarship in this field of study as well as evaluating a range of research methodologies. You will learn to deal with complex issues and make sound judgements and decisions in complex and unpredictable situations.

You will also 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 qualification will develop your independent learning skills, 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.


For this 180-credit masters degree you require:

60 credits from the following compulsory module:

Postgraduate compulsory module Credits Next start
The 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 2015

And the remaining 120 credits, subject to the rules about excluded combinations, from the discontinued modules S802, S804, SEH806, SH804. 

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. 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 in Science and Society entitling you to use the letters MSc Sci Soc (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 F48
Level Postgraduate
Made up of 180 credits

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