Certificate in Physics

Certificate in Physics

Physics is one of the most exciting intellectual adventures of our age. Learning physics will change the way you think about the world. This certificate provides a wide-ranging introduction to physics and its applications, as well as introducing experimental physics. Many set in their historical context, topics include classical mechanics, thermal physics, fields, waves, relativity, and quantum physics of solids, atoms, and nuclei.

Key features of the course

  • Endorsed by the Institute of Physics (IoP) – see Careers.
  • Acquire a solid scientific foundation in physics.
  • Use our award-winning online and remote OpenSTEM Labs.
  • Develop skills of reasoning and logic.

Course Summary

+Shortlist Course

Certificate

Certificate

  • Qualification unique to The Open University.
  • Focus on a particular profession or subject area.
  • Study for interest or career development.
  • A wide range of subjects and levels.
Course code
S20
Credits

Credits

  • 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.
90
How long it takes
Part time – 2 years
Time limit – 4 years
Study method
Distance learning

Course details

This certificate has one stage, comprising 90 credits.

Stage 1 (90 credits)

The course starts with the big ideas of physics, setting them in contemporary and historical context. You’ll also do some practical science and take part in a team project.

We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 15 March 2022.


Accessibility

We make all our qualifications as accessible as possible and have a comprehensive range of services to support all our students. The Certificate in Physics uses a variety of study materials and has the following elements:

  • studying online material – online learning resources may include websites, audio/video media clips, and interactive activities such as online quizzes
  • using mathematical and scientific expressions, notations and associated techniques
  • working in a group with other students
  • using and/or producing diagrams and/or screenshots
  • undertaking practical work or using an online laboratory
  • using specialist software.

All qualifications require you to complete learning and assessment activities within a required timescale and according to pre-determined deadlines. You will therefore need to manage your time effectively during your studies and the University will help you to develop this skill throughout your degree. Information on assessment will be available to you at the start of each module.

For more detailed information, see the Accessibility Statements on individual module descriptions. If you feel you may need additional support, visit Disability support to find more about what we offer. Contact us as soon as possible to discuss your individual requirements, so we can put arrangements in place before you start.


Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment

This qualification develops your learning in four main areas:

  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Cognitive skills
  • Practical and professional skills
  • Key skills

The level and depth of your learning gradually increases as you work through the qualification. You’ll be supported throughout by the OU’s unique style of teaching and assessment – which includes a personal tutor to guide and comment on your work; top quality course texts; elearning resources like podcasts, interactive media and online materials; tutorial groups and community forums.

Read the detailed learning outcomes here

On completion

On successfully completing this course, we’ll award you our Certificate in Physics.

International recognition

If you intend to use your Open University qualifications to seek work or undertake further study outside the UK, we recommend checking whether your intended qualification will meet local requirements for your chosen career. Find out more about international recognition of Open University qualifications.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the qualification-specific regulations below and the academic regulations that are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website. 


Entry requirements

There are no formal entry requirements to study this qualification. However, this is an OU level 2 certificate. You should ensure that you have adequate study skills, such as gained from OU level 1 study or its equivalent, before you begin. Having studied physics and maths to A-level standard and/or Physics and space (SM123) would significantly improve your readiness to start this certificate.

How much time do I need?

  • Most of our students study part time, completing 60 credits a year.
  • This will usually mean studying for 16–18 hours a week.

Find out if you have enough time to study with our time planner

How much will it cost in England?

We believe cost shouldn’t be a barrier to achieving your potential. That’s why we work hard to keep the cost of study as low as possible and have a wide range of flexible ways to pay to help spread the cost.

  • Fees are paid on a module-by-module basis – you won't have to pay for the whole of your qualification up front.
  • A qualification comprises a series of modules, each with an individual fee. Added together, they give you the total cost.
  • Most OU students study part time at a rate of 60 credits a year.
  • Our current fee for 60 credits is £3,228*.
  • Our current fee for 120 credits, which is equivalent to a year's full-time study, is £6,456*.
  • At current prices, the total cost of your qualification would be £4,842*.
  • .

*The fee information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2023. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees.

Additional costs

Study costs

There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as set books, a computer and internet access. If your income is not more than £25,000 or you are in receipt of a qualifying benefit, you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after you start studying.


How will I study this course?

With our unique approach to distance learning, you can study from home, work, or on the move.

You’ll have some assessment deadlines to meet, but otherwise you’ll be free to study at the times that suit you, fitting your learning around work, family, and social life.

For each of your modules, you’ll use either just online resources or a mix of online and printed materials.

Each module you study will have a module website, with:

  • a week-by-week study planner, giving you a step-by-step guide through your studies
  • course materials such as reading, videos, recordings, and self-assessed activities
  • module forums for discussions and collaborative activities with other students
  • details of each assignment and their due dates
  • a tutorial booking system, online tutorial rooms, and your tutor’s contact details
  • online versions of some printed module materials and resources.

If you have additional needs, we can also provide most module materials in alternative formats. Find out more about materials on our accessibility webpage.


Tutor support

You’ll have a tutor for each module, who will introduce themselves before the module begins.

Throughout the module, they will:

  • mark your assignments and give feedback to help you improve
  • guide you to learning resources
  • support you, whether with general study skills or help with a specific topic.

Tutorials

Tutorials throughout the course could be online, face-to-face or a mixture of the two, and they’re always optional.

Online tutorials are live presentations with module tutors in dedicated online tutorial rooms, and are sometimes recorded.


Assessment

Our assessments are all designed to reinforce your learning and help you show your understanding of the topics. The mix of assessment methods will vary between modules.

Computer-Marked Assignments

  • Usually a series of online, multiple-choice questions.

Tutor-Marked Assignments

  • You’ll have a number of these throughout each module, each with a submission deadline.
  • They can be made up of essays, questions, experiments or something else to test your understanding of what you have learned.
  • Your tutor will mark and return them to you with detailed feedback.

End-of-Module Assessments

  • The final, marked piece of work on most modules.
  • Modules with an end of module assessment won’t usually have an exam.

Exams

  • Some modules end with an exam. You’ll be given time to revise and prepare.
  • You’ll be given your exam date at least 5 months in advance; you’ll need to attend one of our many exam centres in the UK or Europe.
  • All exams taking place before 31 December 2023 will be remote exams that you will complete at home or at an alternative location.

Progressing to a point where I felt more comfortable writing my assignments, and having my scores reflecting that, made me quite happy because it showed the hard work was being rewarded.

Patrick ‘Ricky’ Skene, BSc (Hons) Sport, Fitness and Coaching

Other support and resources

Throughout your studies, you’ll have access to our subject-specific Student Support Teams.

They’ll help you with any general questions about your study and updates to your OU account.

To help with your studies, you’ll also have access to:

  • our online library, with high-quality online resources to support your study
  • other university libraries in the UK and Ireland
  • the online Help Centre, which has general information about OU study and support, along with study skills advice
  • free Microsoft Office 365 software
  • IT and computing support from our Computing Helpdesk.

Find out more about student support and being a part of the OU community.

Skills for career development

Employees with science qualifications are in demand in the jobs market, particularly if they also have good interpersonal skills and some workplace experience. In addition to specialist knowledge and understanding in the area of physics, this certificate will develop skills in basic scientific literacy and numeracy, locating and interpreting scientific data, and using a computer to find and communicate information. It also offers a sound foundation for progressing to an honours degree in a relevant area.

Career relevance

This certificate is particularly useful if you’re required to teach secondary school physics but your background is in another area of science, or if you’re thinking about training to be a physics teacher.

Accreditation

This certificate is endorsed by the Institute of Physics.

Instiute of Physics logo

 

The Institute regards this qualification as providing sufficient content to support the teaching of secondary school physics to A-level; and as providing sufficient content for those seeking to be physics specialists on entry to PGCE studies.

Other careers

People with science qualifications are well placed to enter both scientific and non-scientific jobs. The logical, reasoned approach needed for science study is relevant to a wide range of financial, business and public sector employment.

In addition to improving your career prospects, studying with the OU is an enriching experience that broadens your horizons, develops your knowledge, builds your confidence and enhances your life skills. 

Exploring your options

Once you register with us (and for up to three years after you finish your studies), you’ll have full access to our careers service for a wide range of information and advice – including online forums, website, interview simulation, vacancy service as well as the option to email or speak to a careers adviser. Some areas of the careers service website are available for you to see now, including help with looking for and applying for jobs. You can also read more general information about how OU study enhances your career.

In the meantime if you want to do some research around this qualification and where it might take you, we’ve put together a list of relevant job titles as a starting point (note that some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience):

  • science teacher
  • astronomer
  • research assistant
  • meteorologist
  • geophysicist 
  • laboratory technician
  • science communicator
  • technical consultant.

Thinking of studying this course?

Registration will open shortly. If you would like to be kept updated, register your interest.


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