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Science project course: environmental science practical project

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In Science project course: environmental science practical project (SXE390), you’ll undertake an independent practical investigation of an environmental science or environmental management topic. You’ll design your investigation, collect data (in the field, at home, in a laboratory, or online), analyse it and produce a scientific report. Possible research areas include climate effects on phenology, tidal cycles, weather and the ecology of rocky shores, environmental effects on plant water uptake and freshwater invertebrates, and environmental monitoring. The study materials guide planning and conducting project work, searching and using the literature, and writing a report. But ultimately, this is a chance for you to plan and execute a piece of work for yourself.

What you will study

Early in the module, the study materials, tutorials and discussions with your tutor will guide you to identify a suitable topic area and develop a research question. We’ll provide some examples of topics you could investigate; however, you can choose a topic from any suitable area of environmental science or environmental management in agreement with your tutor. Your chosen research area is likely to be informed by your previous studies and experience. Your project will involve collecting primary data (in the field, at home, or in a laboratory at your workplace) or using secondary data from online sources. Additionally, you’ll search scientific literature to identify key research to provide context for your own investigation.

Once you’ve settled on a project idea, you’ll audit the knowledge and skills required to complete your project and identify ways of developing areas that need improvement. You’ll also produce a project plan (your study planner for the duration of the module) and complete risk and ethical assessments for your investigation.

After you complete the initial planning, you’ll start the data collection and analysis process. You’ll follow this with the final phase of writing up your report, submitted as part of your end of module assessment. The study materials guide planning and conducting project work, help with searching and using literature, guide data analysis and report writing. Tutorials will provide further guidance and support.

Throughout the module, you’ll keep a reflective log to help you track and reflect on your progress. You’ll record any problems you encounter and develop actions, with help from your tutor, to help you move forward.

Entry requirements

SXE390 is an OU level 3 module; therefore, you need a good knowledge of environmental science obtained through OU level 1 to 3 study or another higher education institution. There are no formal entry requirements.

We recommend you have completed:

The parts of S206/SXF206 and S397 relating to project work and data collection and analysis are especially important.

We strongly recommend that you check your background and experience are sufficient to tackle this module. We’ve found that appropriately prepared students have the best chance of completing their studies and get the most enjoyment from the module.

Are you ready for SXE390?

Talk to an advisor if you’re not sure you’re ready.

Note: If you’re studying towards a degree, SXE390 is intended as your final module. It runs from February to September, meaning you’ll receive your module result and degree classification in November. This late result may impact your study plans if you’re considering continuing on to postgraduate study.

Preparatory work

We recommend you familiarise yourself with the Library search tool and referencing guide.

What's included

You’ll have access to a module website, which includes:

  • a study planner
  • course-specific module materials
  • assignment details and submission section
  • online tutorial access.

Computing requirements

You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11), or macOS (10.15 or higher).

Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop as described above.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Throughout your module studies, you’ll get help and support from your assigned module tutor. They’ll help you by:

  • Marking your assignments and providing detailed feedback for you to improve.
  • Guiding you to additional learning resources.
  • Providing individual guidance, whether that’s for general study skills or specific module content.
  • Facilitating online discussions between your fellow students, in the dedicated module and tutor group forums.

Module tutors also run online tutorials throughout the module. Where possible, recordings of online tutorials will be made available to students. While these tutorials won’t be compulsory for you to complete the module, you’re strongly encouraged to take part.

Assessment

The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying SXE390 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

Science project course: environmental science practical project (SXE390) starts once a year – in February.

This page describes the module that will start in February 2023.

We expect it to start for the last time in February 2030.

Course work includes:

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school