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Geologist surveying river valley

Diploma of Higher Education in Geology

Travel to the deep time of Earth’s past through fossil finds and mineral mysteries. You’ll observe, describe and interpret rocks and landforms, minerals and fossils, to develop your understanding of how our planet works. Try out your new skills by collecting and analysing data in your own geological investigation. Then explore related topics such as planetary, environmental or ecological science to extend your study of geology.

Key features of the course

  • Observe, describe and analyse rocks, fossils, minerals and landforms.
  • Explore our award-winning OpenSTEM Labs and online databases for current research data.
  • Gain key science skills in critical thinking, communication and problem-solving.
  • Opportunities to gain fieldwork experience, both outdoors and within virtual environments.

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
W84
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 either a 60-credit introductory science module or a choice of two out of three 30-credit mathematics modules, followed by another 60-credit science module.
  • Next, in Stage 2, you’ll study a 60-credit Earth science module and choose a further 60 credits from a range of science and technology 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 either a 60-credit broad introductory science module or a choice of two out of three 30-credit mathematics modules. You’ll also study a second 60-credit broad science module.

Stage 2 (120 credits)

In Stage 2, you’ll study your first 60-credit Earth sciences module. You’ll also choose 60 credits from a range of science and technology modules.

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 in a group with other students
  • conducting fieldwork or virtual practical investigations
  • undertaking practical work online through our OpenSTEM Labs
  • using and/or producing diagrams and/or screenshots
  • 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 university-level study somewhere else, you may be able to count it towards this 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. For more details 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 Geology.

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. 

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 an option module, Questions in science (S111) – check you’re ready to study this module.
  • Stage 1 also includes optional mathematics modules – check you’re ready to study these modules.

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

You’ll develop skills valued in a range of careers within and beyond geoscience, such as numeracy, interpretation of partial datasets, spatial visualisation, working across different scales and project planning. You’ll also gain a broad understanding of scientific concepts and the scientific method. You’ll be an independent learner with tested capabilities, equipped to make decisions about your future.

You’ll gain some important transferable skills that boost your employability, including:

  • digital literacy
  • communication
  • self-motivation
  • practical skills
  • problem solving
  • collaboration

Career relevance

The Government has identified a shortage of skilled geoscientists to fill professional geoscience roles. This diploma will help you move towards that goal.

This diploma will also equip you with a broad skillset that you can turn to a variety of jobs in government, the private sector, consultancies and environmental charities. Examples include the following career areas:

  • science communication and public engagement
  • data analysis and processing
  • environmental monitoring and conservation
  • teaching
  • energy management
  • resources

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):

  • Data analyst
  • Engineering geologist
  • Environmental consultant
  • Exploration geologist
  • Geochemist
  • Geological technician
  • Geoscientist
  • Geospatial consultant
  • Hydrogeologist
  • Industrial researcher
  • Minerals surveyor
  • Mud logger
  • Museum curator
  • Science writer
  • Teacher

Register for this course

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

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