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Science project course: radiation and matter

Qualification dates
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In Science project course: radiation and matter (SXP390), you’ll undertake individual investigations within defined topics, which could include radiation and matter, quantum entanglement, gravitational lensing, exoplanets, astrophysical and jets – there’s also a Physics Education Research (PER) topic. You’ll need access to scientific literature, probably from electronic library sources. 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

A range of topics are possible, and your chosen topic will allow you to exploit the knowledge, understanding and skills developed in your OU level 3 physics and astronomy modules. Early in the module, the study materials, tutorials and discussions with your tutor will guide you to choose an appropriate topic to investigate in depth. Your project will need to consider contextualisation, development, application, detailed analysis and ‘what next’ for your chosen topic. 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.

Entry requirements

SXP390 is an OU level 3 project module; therefore, you need a good knowledge of physical 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 at least one from:

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 SXP390?

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

Note: If you’re studying towards a degree, SXP390 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.
  • 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 above.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying SXP390 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: radiation and matter (SXP390) 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

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