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Study an MSc in Science with The Open University

MSc in Science

This qualification explores some of contemporary science's most pressing issues and develops a wide range of skills associated with postgraduate study. The MSc includes taught modules and a compulsory final project module which gives you the opportunity to explore a topic in further depth, and undertake a substantial piece of independent research. 

Key features of the course

  • Flexible study routes and options to suit your professional needs and interests 
  • Core science options include Earth science, space science, mental health science and medicinal chemistry
  • Plan and carry out an in-depth research project in a related specialised area of your choice, and submit a written dissertation (your master's thesis)
  • Develops critical, analytical and research skills, boosting your career or preparing you for further studies at doctoral level

Masters degree

Course code
F12
Credits

Credits

  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
180
How long it takes
2–7 years
Read more about how long it takes
Study method
Distance learning
Find out more in Why the OU?
Course cost
Postgraduate loan available
See Fees and funding
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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Course details

Modules

If you are new to postgraduate level study we recommend that you take Developing research skills in science (S825) as your first module. You should take the MSc project module (S810) last.

To gain this qualification, you need 180 credits as follows:

120 credits of optional modules from List A:

List A: Optional modules Credits Next start
Developing research skills in science (S825)

This module helps you develop your knowledge and understanding of the research skills and techniques relevant to scientific study at postgraduate level.

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Register
30 06 Oct 2018 FINAL
Molecules in medicine (S807)

Examine the molecular basis of drug action in medicine, covering topics like infectious diseases (bacterial and viral), cancer, heart disease, inflammation and neuropharmacology.

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Register
60 26 Jan 2019
Earth science: a systems approach (S808)

Introduces a systems approach to Earth science and explores several important Earth system interactions using a variety of methods and models.

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Register
60 26 Jan 2019 FINAL
Concept to clinic (S827)

This module provides an overview of the drug discovery and development process from a modern and historical perspective and introduces you to a range of issues in drug discovery.

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Register
30 06 Oct 2018
Introduction to mental health science (S826)

This module develops postgraduate skills, and introduces key topics in mental health science (stress, anxiety and depression) from biological, psychological and social science perspectives.

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Register
60 26 Jan 2019
Space science (S818)

This module provides an in-depth introduction to the methods of conducting scientific measurements in the space environment and the technologies needed for space missions.

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Register
60 26 Jan 2019

Or, subject to the rules about excluded combinations, the discontinued modules BS811, DS871, ES821, S802, S803, S804, S809, S811, S819, S820, SD805, SD815, SEH806, SH804.

Or 90 credits from List A plus 30 credits from List B:

List B: Optional modules Credits Next start
Capacities for managing development (T878)

This module builds the competence and confidence to manage development, local and global, more effectively, and bring about greater social equality and justice. 

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Register
30 01 Nov 2018
Making environmental decisions (T891)

Defining environment to include biophysical, social, political, economic factors, this module uses a systems framework to integrate environment with other elements in environmental decision-making situations.

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Register
30 01 Nov 2018
Managing for sustainability (T867)

This module will increase your understanding of delivering and supporting sustainability management in your workplace or support your personal interest in this subject.

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Register
30 01 Nov 2018
Project management (M815)

In this online module you’ll explore the whole life cycle of projects, from initiation, through to planning, scheduling, execution, handover and review.

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Register
30 01 May 2019 FINAL
The critical researcher: educational technology in practice (H819)

Using examples including popular and social media, you will critically evaluate educational technology research and cutting-edge innovations, and be able to apply these findings to your own practices. 

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Register
30 06 Apr 2019
The networked practitioner (H818)

This module enables you to experience producing a project and resources related to online and distance education and then improving them through engagement with others in peer reflection.

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Register
30 06 Oct 2018

Or, subject to the rules about excluded combinations, the discontinued modules D830, D831, D832, D843, E827, E845, ET821, H804, H805, T830, T833, T834, T835, T838, T839, T860, T861, T862, T863, TXX861, TUXX863

plus
a 60-credit compulsory module:

Compulsory module Credits Next start
MSc project module (S810)

Plan and carry out an investigation of your own choice with this masters-level project course in science, and develop essential skills like report writing.

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Register
60 03 Nov 2018

You should note that the University’s unique study rule applies to this qualification. This means that you must include at least 60 credits from OU modules that have not been counted in any other OU qualification that has previously been awarded to you.


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 8th June 2018.

Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment

The learning outcomes of this qualification are described in four areas:

  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Cognitive skills
  • Practical and professional skills
  • Key skills
Read more detailed information about the learning outcomes.

Credit transfer

If you’ve successfully completed some relevant postgraduate study elsewhere, you might be able to count up to 90 credits towards this qualification, reducing the number of modules you need to study. However, you won't be able to count it towards the MSc project module (S810). You should apply for credit transfer as soon as possible, before you register for your first module. For more details and an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.


On completion

On successful completion of the required modules you will be awarded a Master of Science entitling you to use the letters MSc Science (Open) after your name. The degree will be classified as pass, merit or distinction. You will have the opportunity of being presented at a degree ceremony.

Recognition in your country

If you intend to use your Open University qualifications to seek work or undertake further study outside the UK, we recommend checking whether your intended qualification will meet local requirements for your chosen career. Read recognition in my country.

Regulations

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 Essential Documents website. 

Entry requirements

To study for the MSc in Science you must normally hold a UK honours degree (or equivalent qualification) in science. If you have other study or experience that you believe equips you to take this qualification you can still apply, but must supply evidence of your study or experience. Your case will be referred to our MSc Admissions Panel. Depending on your previous qualifications or experience, some background study may be necessary to registering for this qualification or its constituent modules. If your first degree is not in a science subject, we would normally expect you to have completed at least 60 credits of science at FHEQ level 5, and 60 credits at FHEQ level 6, before you register for F12. For further advice, email the MSc Admissions Panel.

Please refer to individual module descriptions to ensure that you are adequately prepared before starting to study for this qualification. You will also need good computing skills and a level of proficiency in the English language that is adequate for study at postgraduate level.

If English is not your first language, we strongly recommend that you have achieved an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of at least 7. You can assess your English language skills in relation to your proposed studies by visiting the IELTS website.

How long it takes

Although in certain circumstances, it may be possible to complete this qualification within two years, we recommend that you take no more than 90 credits a year due to the demands that studying the degree will make on you. The recommended pace of study is three years. To study a 30-credit module requires 8-10 hours per week and a 60-credit module requires 16-20 hours per week of study, over a 32 week period. As S825 runs for 28 weeks, this will require 10-11 hours per week. The maximum time to complete is seven years. 

Career relevance

Completing this qualification will equip you with key transferable skills which will be relevant to your career, as well as providing you with a base of postgraduate level science knowledge and understanding. You will learn to critically evaluate current research and advanced scholarship in your field of study as well as evaluating research methodologies. You will learn to deal with complex issues and make sound judgements and decisions in complex situations.

You will also learn to communicate information and conclusions to specialist (including professional) and non-specialist audiences, demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a postgraduate level.

The qualification will develop your independent learning skills, enhance your skills in locating information and communicating with others in both academic and professional contexts.

Careers and Employability Services have more information on how OU study can improve your employability.