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    An undergraduate course in Science.

Topics in science

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In this course you will study three exciting topics in contemporary science which will provide you with a broad understanding of Level 1 science. These topics include Human genetics and health issues, which deals with our genes – an area at the forefront of medical science and Empire of the microbes, which explores the intriguing world of bacteria, viruses, yeast and other microscopic organisms. To allow some specialisation between studying health sciences or environmental sciences you will have a choice between Molecules, medicines and drugs, which explores drug development, infection and disease and The frozen planet, which explains the science behind the polar regions.   

Register for the course


Start End Fee Register
31 Jan 2015 Sep 2015
£1316.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in February 2016.
Start End Fee Register
31 Jan 2015 Sep 2015
£440.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in February 2016.
Start End Fee Register
31 Jan 2015 Sep 2015
£1316.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

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 February 2016.
Start End Fee Register
31 Jan 2015 Sep 2015
£440.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in February 2016.
Start End Fee Register
31 Jan 2015 Sep 2015
£440.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in February 2016.
Start End Fee Register
31 Jan 2015 Sep 2015
£985.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in February 2016.
Start End Fee Register
31 Jan 2015 Sep 2015
£440.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in February 2016.
Start End Fee Register
31 Jan 2015 Sep 2015
£985.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in February 2016.
Start End Fee Register
31 Jan 2015 Sep 2015
£1316.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in February 2016.
Start End Fee Register
31 Jan 2015 Sep 2015
£440.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in February 2016.
Start End Fee Register
31 Jan 2015 Sep 2015
£865.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in February 2016.
Start End Fee Register
31 Jan 2015 Sep 2015
£1316.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in February 2016.

*Fees may vary by country.

What you will study

This course has three components.

Human genetics and health issues which examines the patterns of inheritance of genes, including those associated with genetic diseases; the sequence and content of the human genome; how genes function; how the physical and biochemical characteristics of the body are produced; and why there are differences between individuals and between populations. Finally, it explores some of the issues surrounding research into genes, from biological, medical and ethical points of view.

Empire of the microbes provides an introduction to microbes, explaining their importance in disease and environmental issues and their role in making and spoiling food. You will learn about: the biology of microbes and how they have been studied and cultured from historical times to the present; the efforts made to combat the negative effects of microbes in the health and food industries; how microbes are beneficially used to make drugs and food; the basic ideas behind genetic engineering; and some of the science behind the major environmental cycles in which microbes are involved. This will enable you to understand more about the role and importance of microbes in human society. An online digital microscope will allow you to explore the microbial world for yourself and will also do your own experiments.

If your interest is on health or life sciences, then you should consider Molecules, medicines and drugs which you will study online. It starts by discussing the development and testing of drugs within a social and economic setting, before moving on to explore the discovery and development of a range of drugs and medicines that relieve pain, effect cures and alleviate the symptoms of ill-health. You’ll find out how drugs interact with and affect their target areas in the human body. Online activities will help you to visualise the three-dimensional structures and shapes of the molecules concerned and develop an understanding of how the drugs work. The story includes topics on how aspirin relieves aches and pains; Ventolin treats the symptoms of asthma; penicillin combats harmful bacteria; and Tamiflu helps in the fight against bird flu.

If you would prefer to focus on environmental or biological science, study The frozen planet which examines the physical controls influencing the shape and character of our planet over millions of years through to the climate we experience today. You will investigate the different environmental niches where wildlife flourishes, and the strategies some species have developed to exploit them. You will discover the influence of humans on the environment and learn about their current management and fate in the near future. Specially-filmed film clips from the spectacular BBC Frozen Planet team will form some of the topic activities. 

Entry

This course complements both the 60-credit key introductory course Exploring science (S104) and the 30-credit Introducing health sciences: a case study approach (SDK125), and is particularly suitable if you are taking either of these courses or have already taken one of them.

You should have basic mathematical skills and an understanding of basic scientific concepts. Chemical ideas are explained when they are needed. However, if you are entirely new to the language of chemistry, you will need patience while you become familiar with the vocabulary, and practice applying the new skills that you are learning.

You should be able to read and understand written English of a style and complexity characteristic of a professional magazine or quality newspaper, and you should be able to communicate your thoughts clearly and comprehensibly in a written format.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the course, please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service.

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/video components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of the study material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader and mathematical and scientific materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. The printed course books are available in a comb-bound format. Other alternative formats of the course materials may be available in the future. Our Services for disabled students website has the latest information about availability.

Some parts of the course are delivered online via the website, so you will have to make considerable use of a computer and the internet. Some parts of the course rely heavily on complex diagrams, including maps, chemical structures and coloured images, some of which are delivered via an online digital microscope and this must be studied in order to complete the course. One of the learning outcomes of the course is that students should develop an ability to interpret images, structures and video sequences. No textual descriptions of diagrams will be available and the use of a sighted assistant to interpret the images would conflict with this learning outcome. However, the assessment will only require students to demonstrate that the majority of the courses learning outcomes have been achieved. You should consider if you will find achieving these learning outcomes challenging then contact the OU for advice if necessary.

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

Three printed course books (Empire of the microbes, Human genetics and health issues, The Frozen Planet), an ebook (Molecules, medicines and drugs), study guide, website, online digital microscope and other online materials, and online discussion forums for interaction with other students.

You will need

Basic scientific calculator; access to some household items to conduct practical activities.

You will also need some means of inputting a digital image of a hand-drawn diagram into a word-processed file e.g. scanner, digital camera or mobile phone with a camera.

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 be assigned to a tutor who will hold online tutorials, facilitate one or more online forums, mark your tutor-marked assignments and generally help you achieve the course’s learning outcomes.

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 course can be found in the facts box above.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) and end-of-module assessment (EMA).

Assessment is an essential part of the teaching, so you are expected to complete it all.

Future availability

The details given here are for the course that starts in February 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 S142
Credits 30
OU Level 1
SCQF level 7
FHEQ level 4
Course work includes:
3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

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