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Diploma of Higher Education in Biology

Our biology diploma is for those inspired by the natural world. Studying with the OU will enable you to gain a deeper understanding of the foundations of life and biological processes involved. Explore diverse subject areas from the cellular and molecular levels to whole organism survival. Biology encompasses all living species, explaining their diversity via evolutionary origins. It defines their anatomy and structure, describes their physiology and behaviour, and provides scientific rationales for their habitat requirements and ecosystem interactions.

Key features of the course

  • Gain a contemporary understanding of a range of biology subjects with study of the scientific method throughout.
  • Develop biological data handling, some statistical analysis and technical report-writing, presentation and IT skills.
  • Undertake practical work through home and field investigations, as well as virtual and remote experiments using our award-winning OpenScience Lab.
  • Further develop fieldwork and practical skills through optional short residential schools, where you can also meet other Open University biology students.

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
W89
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, then continue with another 60-credit science module.
  • At Stage 2, you’ll study two 30-credit biology modules and choose a further 60 credits from a range of science 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 an interdisciplinary broad science module in which you’ll investigate a series of questions that teach scientific thinking. Your next science module focuses on further key ideas in science and includes distinct practical blocks.
ModulesCredits
You'll study both of the following:
Questions in science (S111)60
Science: concepts and practice (S112)60

Stage 2 (120 credits)

In Stage 2, you’ll study two compulsory 30-credit modules. The first covering the biology and diversity of whole organisms from an evolutionary perspective, including adaptation and natural selection. The other covering cellular biology in greater depth. You’ll also choose another 60 credits from a range of options.

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. Many alternative formats are available
  • working with specialist reading material such as scientific journals
  • using scientific terminology and mathematical, statistical and experimental techniques
  • undertaking practical work, field work or using an online laboratory experience
  • working together with other OU students and tutors in online tutorial rooms
  • using and/or producing data summaries, graphs, tables, diagrams and/or screenshots
  • researching, using and acknowledging/referencing external/third party online material.

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 successfully completing this course, we’ll award you our Diploma of Higher Education in Biology.

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.

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.

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

On completion of your biology diploma, you’ll be an adaptable graduate with a range of transferable skills that are highly valued in the wider jobs market. You’ll have developed analytical, numerical and problem-solving abilities and gained proficiency in data-handling, using computers as well as have team-working and communication skills. Employers may also look for evidence of practical laboratory or fieldwork experience to support the skills gained throughout the diploma. Even if your future job doesn’t involve practical work, your experiences of designing, carrying out, trouble shooting and persistence in online or home-based investigations demonstrate valuable employability requirements.

Career relevance

Employers of biology graduates include central and local government, the NHS, the water and horticultural industries, food and drink companies, media and communications, multinational oil companies, the pharmaceutical industry, conservation bodies, schools and universities – in roles such as:

  • biotechnology and biomedical engineering
  • data analysis, bioinformatics and diagnostics
  • environmental management, protection and conservation
  • exploration and extraction of natural resources
  • health and healthcare-related professions
  • product design and development
  • research, investigation and laboratory work
  • science information management
  • science communication
  • scientific and medical sales
  • teaching (science is a shortage subject at secondary school level; there may be training incentives)
  • waste management, recycling and sustainability.

Other careers

Biology graduates are well-placed to enter scientific and non-scientific jobs and those with good communication and interpersonal skills are in demand. The logical, reasoned approach developed from biological study is relevant to a range of financial, business and public sector employment. Keep your future options open with an OU biology diploma.

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):

  • analytical scientist
  • bioinformatics data analyst
  • botanist
  • countryside manager
  • laboratory technician
  • industrial researcher
  • research scientist
  • science administrator or manager
  • science communicator
  • science teacher
  • scientific journalist
  • technical consultant
  • technical writer        
  • toxicologist
  • zoologist.

Register for this course

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

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