This diploma has two stages, each comprising 120 credits.
- You’ll start Stage 1 with a 60-credit introductory science module, and study one 30-credit mathematics module combined with a further 30-credit complementary module.
- In Stage 2, you’ll study a 60-credit module and two 30-credit modules.
Stage 1 starts with a broad introductory science module in which you’ll investigate a series of questions that teach scientific thinking. You’ll follow this with an essential mathematics module and one from a choice of two complementary modules.
In the 60-credit module, you’ll learn the most important concepts that a physicist needs before specialising. In the two 30-credit modules, you’ll use our OpenSTEM Labs for an introduction into techniques and principles of experimental physics, and study methods of applied mathematics that underpin advanced physics.
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 17 March 2021.
We make all our qualifications as accessible as possible and have a comprehensive range of services to support all our students. This qualification uses a variety of study materials and has the following elements:
- studying a mixture of printed and 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 with specialist reading material such scientific journals
- 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
- finding external/third party material online.
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.
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
If you’ve already completed some study at another university, you may be able to count it towards your Open University qualification – reducing the number of modules you need to study.
You should apply for credit transfer before you register, at least 4 weeks before the registration closing date. Just tell us what you studied, where and when, and we’ll compare this against the learning outcomes for your chosen course.
For more details and an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.
On successfully completing this course, we’ll award you our Diploma of Higher Education in Physics.
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.
There are no formal entry requirements for this qualification.
At The Open University we believe education should be open to all, so we provide a high-quality university education to anyone who wishes to realise their ambitions and fulfil their potential.
Even though there are no entry requirements, there are some skills that you’ll need to succeed. If you’re not quite ready for OU study we can guide you to resources that prepare you, many of which are free.
Answer a few quick questions to check whether you’re ready for study success
- Stage 1 includes a compulsory module, Questions in science (S111) – check you’re ready to study this module.
- Stage 1 includes another compulsory module, Essential mathematics 1 (MST124) – check you’re ready to study this module.
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
Preparing for study with an Access module
Students who start their study with an Access module are more likely to be successful when they advance to Stage 1 of their qualification. They’re specially designed to give you a gentle introduction to OU study, boost confidence in your study skills, and help you gain a broad overview of your chosen subject area.
You’ll also benefit from:
- feedback from your tutor through regular one-to-one phone tutorials
- support from a dedicated team throughout your study
- detailed written feedback on your work.
The Access module we’d recommend studying in preparation for this qualification is our:
Science, technology and maths Access module
What you will study
This multidisciplinary module is an ideal starting point if you have little or no previous knowledge of the sciences, technology and mathematics. It'll help develop your study skills in advance of your OU qualification, and you get to explore a number of STEM subjects including science, engineering and design, environment, mathematics, and computing and IT.
View full details of Science, technology and maths Access module
Skills for career development
By the time you achieve your qualification, you’ll have developed a range of transferable skills that are highly valued in the labour market – such as analytical, numerical and communication skills, teamworking, problem solving and proficiency in using computers. You’ll also have a good understanding of where your strengths and interests lie, and be well prepared for your next step – whether it’s further study or employment.
With a physics qualification you’re well placed to enter both scientific and non-scientific jobs. The logical, reasoned approach needed for physics study is relevant to a wide range of financial, business and public sector employment, so those with a good knowledge of physics and of its methods and techniques – particularly those who have good communication and interpersonal skills – are in demand.
Growth areas are predicted to be energy and sustainability, healthcare, telecommunications, bioinformatics, and technology transfer (transfer of scientific expertise to commercial products). Note that some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience.
Employers include engineering companies, renewable energy companies, central government, the financial sector, IT companies, the NHS, universities and others – in roles such as:
- analysis and diagnostics
- computer programming and modelling
- data analysis and processing
- information management
- medical physicist
- product design and development
- research and investigation
- scientific sales
- teaching (physics is a shortage subject at secondary school level, so there may be incentives to train as a physics or maths teacher).
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 beyond your degree):
- aerospace engineer
- computer programmer
- data analyst
- medical physicist
- nuclear engineer
- renewable energy specialist
- patent attorney
- science communicator
- science teacher
- software engineer
- university lecturer.