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Diploma of Higher Education in Natural Sciences

This diploma is ideal if you’re curious about the world we live in and enjoy delving into a broad range of scientific topics. You’ll explore aspects of biology, chemistry, earth sciences, environmental sciences, physics, astronomy and planetary science – while developing critical thinking, data analysis and problem-solving skills.

Key features of the course

  • Starts with an introduction to topical areas of modern science, giving you a good grounding in each
  • Allows you to pick modules from across a wide science curriculum
  • Provides opportunities for hands-on laboratory and field work, or take part online from home
  • Develops logical and critical thinking skills that are highly prized in the workplace

Course Summary

Diploma

Diploma

  • Widely-recognised qualification.
  • Equivalent to the first two thirds of an honours degree.
  • Enhance your professional and technical skills or extend your knowledge and understanding of a subject.
  • Study for interest or career development.
  • Top up to a full honours degree in just two years.

This type of course may be of particular interest if you’re living or working in Scotland.

Course code
W37
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.
240
How long it takes
Part time – 4 years
Full time – 3 years
Time limit – 12 years
Study method
Distance learning

Course details

This diploma of higher education has two stages, each comprising 120 credits.

  • You’ll start Stage 1 with a 60-credit introductory science module. What you’ll study for the remaining 60 credits in Stage 1 will depend on the route you decide to take.
  • In Stage 2, the modules you’ll get to choose from will also be determined by the route you decide to take.

Optional Access module – visit Am I ready? to find out about starting this course with a preparatory Access module.

Stage 1 (120 credits)

Stage 1 starts with an introductory science module in which, you’ll investigate a series of questions that will teach you scientific thinking. Next, you’ll have to think about what you want to study at Stage 2:

  • If you intend to continue with broad-based science (which includes biology, chemistry, earth sciences and environmental science), you’ll study a module that focuses on further key ideas in science;
  • If you intend to focus on physical science (which includes physics, astronomy and planetary science), you’ll study a mathematics module and choose a complementary module to go with it.

Introductory science

ModulesCredits
You'll study the following:
Questions in science (S111)60

Broad-based science

ModulesCredits
You'll study the following:
Science: concepts and practice (S112)60

Physical science

ModulesCredits
You'll study the following:
Essential mathematics 1 (MST124)30
You'll choose one from:
Essential mathematics 2 (MST125)30
Introducing statistics (M140)30
Physics and space (SM123) – recommended30
Technologies in practice (TM129)30

Stage 2 (120 credits)

At Stage 2, you’ll continue with the route you chose at Stage 1.

Broad-based science

ModulesCredits
You'll choose 60 credits from:
Chemistry: essential concepts (S215)60
Earth science (S209)60
Environmental science (S206)60
Cell biology (S294)30
The biology of survival (S295)30
You'll choose 60 credits from:
Choose from this list of options60

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 21 March 2018.


Accessibility

We make all our qualifications as accessible as possible and have a comprehensive range of services to support all our students. The Diploma of Higher Education in Natural Sciences uses a variety of study materials and has the following elements:

  • studying a mixture of printed and online material – online learning resources may include websites, audio/video media clips, and interactive activities such as online quizzes
  • using mathematical and scientific expressions, notations and associated techniques
  • undertaking practical work or using an online laboratory
  • working with specialist reading material such as scientific journals, and with audio and graphic information such as sonograms
  • using specialist software
  • working in a group with other students
  • using and/or producing diagrams and/or screenshots
  • finding external/third party material online.

For more detailed information, see the Accessibility Statements on individual module descriptions. If you feel you may need additional support, visit our Disability support website to find more about what we offer. Contact us as soon as possible to discuss your individual requirements, so we can put arrangements in place before you start.


Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment

This qualification develops your learning in four main areas:

  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Cognitive skills
  • Practical and professional skills
  • Key skills

The level and depth of your learning gradually increases as you work through the qualification. You’ll be supported throughout by the OU’s unique style of teaching and assessment – which includes a personal tutor to guide and comment on your work; top quality course texts; e-learning resources like podcasts, interactive media and online materials; tutorial groups and community forums.

Read the detailed learning outcomes here

Credit transfer

If you have already studied at university level, you may be able to count it towards your Open University qualification – which could save you time and money by reducing the number of modules you need to study. At the OU we call this credit transfer.

It’s not just university study that can be considered, you can also transfer study from a wide range of professional or vocational qualifications such as HNCs and HNDs.

You should apply for credit transfer before you register, at least 4 weeks before the registration closing date. We will need to know what you studied, where and when and you will need to provide evidence of your previous study.

For more details of when you will need to apply by and to download an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.


On completion

On completion of this undergraduate course, we'll award you the Diploma of Higher Education in Natural Sciences.

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 Student Policies and Regulations website. 

Compare this course

Entry requirements

Check you’re ready for Questions in science (S111) with our self-assessed quiz. We’ve study resources to help you prepare.

If you’re thinking about choosing physical science, check you’re ready for mathematical study at this level by visiting our MathsChoices website.

How much time do I need?

  • Most of our students study part time, completing 60 credits a year.
  • This will usually mean studying for 16–18 hours a week.

Counting previous study

You could save time and money by reducing the number of modules you need to study towards this qualification if you have:

  • already studied at university level (even if you didn't finish your studies)
  • other professional or vocational qualifications such as HNCs and HNDs.

Find out more about credit transfer

Your next step

Call us on +44 300 303 0266 or book a call back. Our friendly team of advisers will discuss your study options with you, and help you decide on the best starting point for you.

In this section:
How much will it cost?
Ways to pay for your qualification and other support

How much will it cost in England?

We believe cost shouldn’t be a barrier to achieving your potential. That’s why we work hard to keep the cost of study as low as possible and have a wide range of flexible ways to pay to help spread, or even reduce, the cost.

  • Fees are paid on a module-by-module basis – you won't have to pay for the whole of your qualification up front.
  • A qualification comprises a series of modules, each with an individual fee. Added together, they give you the total cost.
  • If, like most OU students, you study part time at a rate of 60 credits a year, you'll take six years to complete an honours degree.
  • Our current fee for 60 credits is £2,928*.
  • Our current fee for 120 credits – which is equivalent to a year's full-time study – is £5,856*.
  • At current prices, the total cost of your qualification would be £11,712*.
  • .

*The fee information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2019. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees.

Residential schools

This qualification includes science modules that include an optional residential school. For each residential school you choose to attend, you must pay an additional charge to cover costs such as tuition, accommodation and meals (see individual module descriptions for more information). You’ll also have to pay for your own travel to and from the venues.


Skills for career development

In addition to specific learning outcomes, this diploma develops a variety of skills that are highly valued in the labour market, such as analytical, numerical IT and communication skills, teamwork, and problem solving. Many of these translate very smoothly into the modern workplace, which is increasingly concerned with knowledge management and the effective communication and presentation of ideas and arguments. You’ll develop critical thinking and independent research skills, and the ability to take the initiative – all valuable assets in today’s competitive environment.

You’ll also have a good understanding of where your strengths and interests lie, and be well prepared for your next step – whether it’s further study or training, or employment.

Career relevance

Scientists are in demand in the jobs market, particularly if they also have good interpersonal skills and some workplace experience. The logical, reasoned approach needed for science study is relevant to many roles in the financial, business and public sectors – and employers in all fields put a high value on anyone who can deal competently with a large amount of complex information and turn it to good use. The ability to select and analyse relevant data and to present conclusions concisely and logically is essential in most lines of work, as is the ability to communicate clearly both orally and in writing. 

Other careers

People with science qualifications are well placed to enter both scientific and non-scientific jobs. The logical, reasoned approach needed for science study is relevant to a wide range of financial, business and public sector employment.

In addition to improving your career prospects, studying with the OU is an enriching experience that broadens your horizons, develops your knowledge, builds your confidence and enhances your life skills. 

Exploring your options

Once you register with us (and for up to three years after you finish your studies), you’ll have full access to our careers service for a wide range of information and advice – including online forums, website, interview simulation, vacancy service as well as the option to email or speak to a careers adviser.  Some areas of the website are available to see at any time, including help with looking for and applying for jobs. You can also read more general information about how OU study enhances your career.

In the meantime if you want to do some research around this qualification and where it might take you, we’ve put together a list of relevant job titles as a starting point (note that some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience):

  • science teacher
  • water quality inspector
  • countryside manager
  • forensic scientist
  • biomedical researcher
  • meteorologist
  • geophysicist 
  • toxicologist
  • environmental engineer
  • marine biologist
  • botanist
  • forensic scientist
  • science communicator
  • technical consultant
  • industrial researcher


Register for this course

Start dates
Credit transfer: apply by 06/12/2018

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