You are viewing information for England.  Change country or region.

Science project course: environmental science practical project

Qualification dates
Start End

This module is the project module for the BSc (Honours) Environmental Science. You will undertake an independent practical investigation of a topic within the area of environmental science or environmental management. You will design your investigation, collect data (this may be in the field, in a laboratory, at home or online), analyse it and produce a scientific report. The study materials provide a guide to planning and conducting project work; help with 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 you will be guided by the study materials and by your tutor to select a specific aspect of your chosen topic to investigate in depth. 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. Your project will involve the collection of primary data or the use of secondary data from online sources.

Unless you have access to an academic library, you may find that you have to spend up to two thirds of your time in the early part of the module online, identifying suitable material to inform your choice of project topic from the electronic journals available via The Open University Library.

In discussion with your tutor, you will define your individual investigation which must cover the following four aspects:

  • experimental design
  • data collection and analysis
  • contextualisation
  • risk assessment.

Entry requirements

This is an OU level 3 module. OU level 3 modules build on study skills and subject knowledge acquired from previous studies at OU levels 1 and 2. They are intended only for students who have recent experience of higher education in a related subject.

You should study this project module as the final module of the BSc (Hons) Environmental Sciences, as you will need to apply knowledge and skills from your prior studies. Normally you should have gained at least 60 credits of the OU level 3 requirements for your degree before starting your project module.

It is essential that you establish whether or not your background and experience give you a sound basis on which to tackle the module, since students who are appropriately prepared have the best chance of completing their studies successfully. The Science Faculty has produced a booklet Are You Ready For your Science Level 3 Project Course? to help you to decide whether you already have the recommended background knowledge or experience to start the module or whether you need a little extra preparation. 

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

Preparatory work

You might find the following book useful for information on devising and carrying out practical project work – OU project guide: Fieldwork and statistics for ecological projects (1989) (2nd ed.) by Neil Chalmers and Phil Parker, ISBN 1851538099, published by the Field Studies Council.

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 (TMAs) 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.


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

The TMAs help you to record your progress with the investigation and build up the elements required for the project report. The project is a rigorous piece of science writing and comprises a substantial part of the examinable component. You will be expected to keep a log of your project work and to submit your cumulative log with your TMAs and with the examinable component.

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 2024.

Course work includes:

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

Student Reviews

See what other students thought.