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Energy and sustainability

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Are fossil fuels running out? Can nuclear power, carbon capture and storage or renewable energy sources provide solutions to the problem of global warming? How can we provide clean, safe, sustainable energy supplies for the UK, and the world, despite increasing population levels and affluence? In this module you will look at the basic principles underlying the design and efficient use of energy and energy supply systems. Using a range of study materials and online activities, you will learn to use the appropriate scientific and mathematical techniques applied to energy related issues.

Modules at Level 2 assume that you are suitably prepared for study at this level. If you want to take a single module to satisfy your career development needs or pursue particular interests, you don’t need to start at Level 1 but you do need to have adequately prepared yourself for OU study in some other way. Check with our Student Registration & Enquiry Service to make sure that you are sufficiently prepared.

Register for the course


Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£440.00
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Registration opens on 24/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2019.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£440.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2019.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£440.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2019.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£985.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2019.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£1316.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

An additional fee for the examination may apply.

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2019.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£985.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2019.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£440.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2019.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£865.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2019.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£1316.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2019.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£1316.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2019.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£440.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2019.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£1316.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 24/04/14

See below for information about part time tuition fee loans available for study towards a qualification.

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2019.

*Fees may vary by country.

What you will study

Each one of us is inextricably linked to energy use, and each of us probably has different perspectives on sustainability. Whatever your energy background and perspectives, this module explores the issues linked to energy and sustainability.

Energy Systems and Sustainability – Power for a Sustainable Future is the core teaching text for this module. You are guided through this book by weekly, online study guides, which include online mathematical and other activities to test your energy related skills and understanding. There are also informative videos which explain all you need to know about energy.

The online study guides and book cover the following topics:

  • Primary energy – where you’ll explore the presentation and interpretation of date and gain an overview of the world’s primary energy situation, its recent history and its problems.
  • What do we use energy for? A tour of all the different ways of using energy and how these have changed over the centuries.
  • Different forms of energy – you’ll investigate some basic ideas around this subject.
  • Coal – a concise ‘biography’ of this critical fuel in the past and the future.
  • Heat to motive power – a detailed look at this most important energy conversion process that underlies much of the energy services we enjoy from transport to electricity
  • Oil and gas – a look at these close cousins from their formation to the prospect of their ultimate depletion
  • Oil and gas engines – a review of three types of internal combustion engine designs that have influenced the twentieth century.
  • Transport and sustainability – an overview of this fast changing topic from both a technological and behavioural perspective.
  • Electricity – exploring this most critical ‘secondary fuel’ – its history and future as part of a sustainable energy system.
  • Energy in buildings – an introduction to this topic focusing on improving insulation standards and heating efficiency in the housing stock.
  • Nuclear power – a review of the present situation, background science and the types of reactor designs currently in use.
  • The future of nuclear power – an exploration of various issues concerning its immediate and long-term future.
  • Renewable energy – an overview of key renewable energy technologies.
  • Costing energy – learn how to understand basic techniques including discounted cash flow.
  • Penalties – a detailed look at the various techniques for assessing the impacts of energy use – from local air pollution to climate change.
  • Remedies for a sustainable energy system – a critical look at how to make fossil fuel use more sustainable.

You will also have access to an electronic version of the companion volume Renewable Energy and a range of other study materials from our website.

You will learn

By the end of the module you will be able to understand and describe:

  • the forms of energy and the various definitions of ‘sustainable’ energy, and the relevance of sustainability to the design and implementation of energy systems
  • the principal sources of primary energy in use today, their development over the past century, and the general patterns of world, regional and national energy consumption
  • the basic principles underlying the design and use of energy supply systems, and the basic principles underlying the efficient use of energy
  • the pollutants produced through the combustion of fossil fuels, their environmental impacts and the amelioration of these.

You will also be able to demonstrate the following:

  • evaluate different energy technologies, in terms of their economics and environmental impacts
  • compare different techniques available for minimizing the level of pollutants generated by various energy sources and systems
  • compare the relative resource depletion impacts of different energy technologies.

Vocational relevance

You may be interested in a professional career in the energy industry; or may be concerned about the sustainability problems associated with our current energy issues. This module will help you to:

  • undertake cost related analyses of proposed or existing energy projects or technologies
  • present arguments relating to energy use and its impacts taking account of environmental, technological and social perspectives
  • use appropriate scientific and mathematical techniques applied to energy-related issues or contexts
  • analyse information about energy and its use from a variety of sources, using ICT tools
  • communicate scientific and technical information, and arguments relating to energy, clearly in a variety of ways.

Entry

This is a Level 2 module and you need to have a good scientific and mathematical background, obtained either through Level 1 study with the OU, or by doing equivalent work at another university.

We recommend that you start with two of the following key introductory Level 1 modules: Exploring science (S104), Environment: journeys through a changing world (U116) or Engineering the future (T174).

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, including the mathematical skills required, please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service or visit the Maths for Energy website which contains a self-assessment quiz to help you decide if this module is appropriate for you .

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

If you have a disability

Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader and musical notation and mathematical, scientific, and foreign language materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. Other alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future. Our Services for disabled students website has the latest information about availability.

If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Visit our Services for disabled students website for more information, including:

  • help to determine your study requirements and how to request the support that you need  
  • Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs)
  • using a computer for OU study
  • equipment and other support services that we offer
  • examination arrangements
  • how to contact us for advice and support both before you register and while you are studying.

Study materials

What's included

Core textbook Everett, B., Boyle, G., Peake, S. and Ramage, J. (2012) Energy Systems and Sustainability, Power for a Sustainable Future (2nd edn). All other study materials including study guides, assignments, audio podcast and videos will be available via the module website.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this course as it includes online activities, which you can access using a web browser.

  • If you have purchased a new desktop or laptop computer since 2007 you should have no problems completing the online activities.
  • If you’ve got a netbook, tablet or other mobile computing device check our Technical requirements section.
  • If you use an Apple Mac you will need OS X 10.6 or later.

You can also visit the Technical requirements section for further computing information including the details of the support we provide.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. There may be a mix of face-to-face and online tutorials. How tutorials are held will depend on the distribution of students taking the module in your area.  

Contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.

Assessment

The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

Professional recognition

The Open University is a Learning Affiliate Member of the Energy Institute.

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in October 2014. We expect it to be available once a year.

How to register

To register a place on this course return to the top of the page and use the Click to register button.

Distance learning

The Open University is the world’s leading provider of flexible, high quality distance learning. Unlike other universities we are not campus based. You will study in a flexible way that works for you whether you’re at home, at work or on the move. As an OU student you’ll be supported throughout your studies – your tutor or study adviser will guide and advise you, offer detailed feedback on your assignments, and help with any study issues. Tuition might be in face-to-face groups, via online tutorials, or by phone.

For more information read Distance learning explained.

Are you already an OU student ? Go to StudentHome for information on choosing your next module.
Course facts
About this course:
Course code T213
Credits 30
OU Level 2
SCQF level 9
FHEQ level 5
Course work includes:
3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
1 Interactive computer-marked assignment (iCMA)
Examination
No residential school

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