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Science project course: geosciences

Qualification dates
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In Science project course: geosciences (SXG390), you’ll investigate and produce an in-depth literature-based or practical-based project on an aspect of geosciences. Topics can include natural hazards (e.g. atmospheric and hydrologic hazards, earthquakes, landslides, meteorite impacts, volcanoes and tsunamis) and past environmental change. You’ll undertake individual investigations and need access to scientific literature from electronic library sources. For practical-based projects, you’ll collect your own primary or secondary data on a geosciences topic that interests you. We provide full guidance to the skills needed for project work, but this allows 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 select a specific aspect of your chosen topic to investigate in depth. Initial decisions may be whether to undertake a literature- or practical-based project. For the latter, you may want to decide whether it is a field, laboratory, online database project, or combination. This form will depend on the facilities available to you and the topic area you choose. Deciding on your project will be an iterative process after reading the online study materials, doing some early research and discussing your ideas with your tutor (the most vital part).

You might have to spend up to two-thirds of your time identifying suitable material to inform your choice of project topic in the early part of the module. In discussion with your tutor, you’ll define your investigation that must address the relevant themes for your project type (e.g. for geohazards: the cause, effect and mitigation of your chosen natural hazard; if you choose the past environmental change topic, you’ll need to address the description, interpretation, process and implications of your chosen change). For any practical-based project, the themes are contextualisation of the project in geoscience literature, experimental design, data collection and analysis, and where next (project limitations and future research ideas).

Entry requirements

SXG390 is an OU level 3 project module; therefore, you need a good knowledge of geology obtained through OU level 1 to 3 study or another higher education institution. There are no formal entry requirements.

We recommend you have completed:

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 out of the module.

Are you ready for SXG390?

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

Note: If you’re studying towards a degree, SXG390 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 (11 'Big Sur' 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 and develop your project.
  • 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.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying SXG390 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: geosciences (SXG390) starts once a year – in January/February.

This page describes the module that will start in February 2024.

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