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Diploma of Higher Education in Physics

Develop the knowledge and skills needed to explore the smallest and largest scales of the Universe. You’ll learn to describe, analyse, test and explain phenomena in the physical world objectively and quantitatively, using appropriate mathematical tools and experimental methods.

 

Key features of the course

  • Develop your understanding of core physics concepts and processes.
  • Learn investigative and laboratory skills with our award-winning OpenScience Lab.
  • Develop mathematical, analytical, practical, communication and team working skills.

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
W82
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 – 2 years
Time limit – 12 years
Study method
Distance learning

Course details

This diploma has two stages, each comprising 120 credits.

  • You’ll start Stage 1 with a 60-credit introductory science module, and study one 30-credit mathematics module combined with a further 30-credit complementary module.
  • In Stage 2, you’ll study a 60-credit module and two 30-credit modules.

Prepare for OU study with an Access module

We offer two starting points depending on how confident you are or how long it’s been since you last studied. Choose to dive straight in at Stage 1, or if you’d prefer some extra preparation, you can get started with an optional Access module. See Entry requirements for more details.

Stage 1 (120 credits)

Stage 1 starts with a broad introductory science module in which you’ll investigate a series of questions that teach scientific thinking. You’ll follow this with an essential mathematics module and one from a choice of two complementary modules.
ModulesCredits
You'll study both of the following:
Questions in science (S111)60
Essential mathematics 1 (MST124)30
You'll choose one from:
Essential mathematics 2 (MST125)30
Physics and space (SM123)30

Stage 2 (120 credits)

In the 60-credit module, you’ll learn the most important concepts that a physicist needs before specialising. In the two 30-credit modules, you’ll use our OpenSTEM Labs for an introduction into techniques and principles of experimental physics, and study methods of applied mathematics that underpin advanced physics.

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 17 March 2021.


Accessibility

We make all our qualifications as accessible as possible and have a comprehensive range of services to support all our students. This qualification 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
  • working with specialist reading material such scientific journals
  • working in a group with other students
  • using and/or producing diagrams and/or screenshots
  • undertaking practical work OR using an online laboratory
  • using specialist software
  • 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 Disability support to find more about what we offer.


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; elearning resources like podcasts, interactive media and online materials; tutorial groups and community forums.

Read the detailed learning outcomes here

Credit transfer

If you’ve already completed some study at another university, you may be able to count it towards your Open University qualification – reducing the number of modules you need to study.

You should apply for credit transfer before you register, at least 4 weeks before the registration closing date. Just tell us what you studied, where and when, and we’ll compare this against the learning outcomes for your chosen course.

For more details and 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 Physics.

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

There are no formal entry requirements for this qualification.

At The Open University we believe education should be open to all, so we provide a high-quality university education to anyone who wishes to realise their ambitions and fulfil their potential.

  • Stage 1 includes a compulsory module, Questions in science (S111) – check you’re ready to study this module.
  • Stage 1 includes another compulsory module, Essential mathematics 1  (MST124) – check you’re ready to study this module.

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.
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.
  • Most OU students study part time at a rate of 60 credits a year.
  • Our current fee for 60 credits is £3,168*.
  • Our current fee for 120 credits, which is equivalent to a year's full-time study, is £6,336*.
  • At current prices, the total cost of your qualification would be £12,672*.
  • .

*The fee information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2022. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees.

Field schools/lab schools

This qualification has modules with optional field schools/lab schools. For each school, you must pay an additional charge (see module descriptions for further information). You must also pay for your travel to and from the venue. Due to the ongoing pandemic, we may replace face-to-face events with online alternatives.


Skills for career development

By the time you achieve your qualification, you’ll have developed a range of transferable skills that are highly valued in the labour market – such as analytical, numerical and communication skills, teamworking, problem solving and proficiency in using computers. 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 employment.

Career relevance

With a physics qualification you’re well placed to enter both scientific and non-scientific jobs. The logical, reasoned approach needed for physics study is relevant to a wide range of financial, business and public sector employment, so those with a good knowledge of physics and of its methods and techniques – particularly those who have good communication and interpersonal skills – are in demand.

Growth areas are predicted to be energy and sustainability, healthcare, telecommunications, bioinformatics, and technology transfer (transfer of scientific expertise to commercial products). Note that some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience.

Employers include engineering companies, renewable energy companies, central government, the financial sector, IT companies, the NHS, universities and others – in roles such as:

  • analysis and diagnostics
  • computer programming and modelling
  • data analysis and processing
  • information management
  • medical physicist
  • product design and development
  • research and investigation
  • scientific sales
  • teaching (physics is a shortage subject at secondary school level, so there may be incentives to train as a physics or maths teacher).

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 careers service website are available for you to see now, 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 beyond your degree):

  • aerospace engineer
  • astrophysicist
  • computer programmer
  • data analyst
  • geophysicist
  • medical physicist
  • meteorologist
  • nuclear engineer
  • renewable energy specialist
  • patent attorney
  • physicist
  • science communicator
  • science teacher
  • software engineer
  • university lecturer.

Register for this course

Start dates
Credit transfer: apply by 05/08/2021
Credit transfer: apply by 09/12/2021

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