We are the major provider of distance-learning courses in physics and astronomy in the UK and Europe. Our modular programme allows you to study courses that build towards an undergraduate diploma or a BSc degree, or simply to study individual courses. You can achieve a BSc degree focussed in physics and/or astronomy and planetary science, or a degree that combines these subjects with other sciences, with mathematics, with technology, or with other subjects that interest you.
Our teaching programme was rated as 'excellent' in the recent Teaching Quality Assessment. It makes use of innovative teaching materials, including books and other printed materials that we write for each course, DVDs containing video programmes and interactive multimedia, as well as web-based activities. You can attend tutorials in a local study centre and participate in computer conferences, and some courses include a week-long residential school largely devoted to practical work.
Our undergraduate programme is discussed in the next section, but if you are already an OU student, you may also wish to look at the Physics and Astronomy Subject Website for further information (only accessible when you login with your OU computer username).
At postgraduate level we offer an MSc in Science, for which further details are available on the MSc programme website. It is also possible to study for a PhD within the Department - the Jobs and Studentships section of this website gives further information.
If you are interested in teaching Physics at Secondary School, please read the section below to learn how the OU can help you to achieve this.
Physical Science is generally recognised as the most fundamental of the sciences, and the key to understanding the world around us.
The Physical Science programme offers you the opportunity to gain an understanding of the processes that govern the workings of the Universe. You can learn about interactions such as gravity and electromagnetism, theories such as quantum mechanics or relativity, and the processes that go on in stars and galaxies, black holes and supernovae.
There are many different courses available in the area of Physics and Astronomy which you can study as stand alone modules or combine to achieve an award. The awards available within the Physical Science programme are:
Certificate in Physics (C79) This is a 70 point level 2 certificate awarded for successful completion of S207 The physical world and SXR207 Physics by experiment.
Certificate in Astronomy and Planetary Sciences (C58) This is a 60 point level 2 certificate awarded for successful completion of S282 Astronomy and S283 Planetary science and the search for life .
Diploma in Physical Science (E04) This is a 130 point diploma awarded for successful completion of a selection of predominantly level 2 courses.
BSc (Hons) Physical Science (B27) This is a 360 pt batchelors degree awarded for successful completion of a selection of courses at levels 1, 2 and 3. If you wish, you can select courses such that your degree has either a physics or an astronomy focus. To help you to choose courses that fit together particularly well, and to decide on the sequence in which to study them, we have produced two maps of recommended study routes with either a physics or astronomy focus.