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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.

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 qualification is not available to new students.

This MSc course is for those 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 of the possible component modules are taught, but there is also a compulsory project module that 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 our MSc in Science and Society you must normally hold an honours degree in science or other relevant honours degree related to the modules of 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 postgraduate science team.

You will also need good computing skills (e.g. able to search the Web, use email, use word processing packages and take part in online forums). 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.

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

You can take your chosen modules in any order, except that you are expected to have completed at least one of the taught modules – preferably both – before you undertake the project module. Your choice of topic for the project module must relate to the knowledge-based learning outcomes of one of the other modules you have passed.

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 set of 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 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 qualification will develop your independent learning skills and enhance your skills in searching, filtering and assessing the credibility of information from a range of sources, 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:

180 credits from the following compulsory modules:

Postgraduate compulsory 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
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
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

Or, subject to the rules about excluded combinations, the discontinued modules S802, S804

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 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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