|About this course:|
|Course work includes:|
|No residential school|
This course explores the crucial role that plants play in the everyday lives of all of us. Plants and their products are important not just as staple foods but also increasingly as biofuels, bioplastics and medicines, and even for catching criminals and in combating climate change. Plants and people is one of a series of short, five month 10-credit courses introducing fascinating topics in science. It enables you to try out an area of study before you commit yourself to a longer course, or top up your knowledge and skills between longer courses.
No current presentation - see Future availability
|This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2013.|
Plants form the basis of all life on Earth. There is an astonishing variety of uses that plants are put to by humans, but these uses, as well as climate and environmental changes, can threaten the very survival of many plants. This course aims to demonstrate the reliance humans have on plants and their products, while pointing out the challenges that plant life currently faces.
Through a range of topics that look at some of the most interesting aspects about plants, the course explores the crucial role that plants play in our everyday lives. Plants and their products provide the staple foods for all humans and they are becoming increasingly important as biofuels and medicines. They can even have a role in catching criminals and combating climate change. The potential use of genetically modified staple crops for feeding an increasing world population, the techniques of micropropagation and modern ways of cultivating plants on different scales are also covered. The course also discusses the potential health-related benefits of plants and their products, including looking at the world’s favourite drinks, tea, coffee and alcohol, and at the botanical aspects of the drug marijuana. Finally, the importance of conserving the diversity of our natural heritage – in the UK and globally – is set in both a historical context and a vision for the future.
The core of the course is a richly illustrated book, Why People Need Plants. This has been written in four thematic parts by experts from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and The Open University. A series of online video and audio clips present some topical issues. Through a practical activity you’ll investigate the basis of flower and leaf colour. A study book provides additional background science. It also guides you through the course book and the other components, with interesting questions and activities to help your understanding and to develop scientific skills.
The course will be of particular relevance to people working in agriculture, horticulture, food, environment and conservation. Much of the course will also appeal to those who are both interested in growing plants and finding out more about their practical applications.
Please note: this course is only available for standalone study. You cannot count the credits you gain from the course towards any current OU qualification. It may be possible, however, to count the credits gained towards a qualification if you are already studying with us and have declared your qualification intention before September 2012 – see your qualification description in StudentHome for details.
The course does not assume any previous scientific background and teaches the concepts and skills as they are required.
It’s designed for people who are new to the subject area and although a little basic knowledge of general science would be useful, all you need is an interest in plants and the benefits that they bring to the world. You’ll have to understand some basic science, such as biology and chemistry, in order to do this. If you have read popular books and magazines on the subject, you will find the course develops your understanding and introduces topics that you have not met before.
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. Mathematically, you need only to be able to add, subtract, multiply and divide simple numbers.
If you have any doubt about the suitability of the course, please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service.
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.
A proportion of the course, including video and audio, is delivered online via the website, so you will have to spend considerable amounts of time using a personal computer and the internet. The course relies on coloured images and visual acuity to identify coloured images and no written textual descriptions are available. The course contains a number of online video clips and written transcripts are available. If you have severely impaired sight the use of a sighted assisted may be helpful but some students may find achieving the course learning outcomes extremely challenging. However, the assessment will only require students to demonstrate that the majority of the course learning outcomes have been achieved. You should consider if you will find achieving these learning outcomes challenging and contact the Student Registration & Enquiry Service for advice before registering for this course.
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 scientific or diagrammatic 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:
Two books (Why people need plants and OU study book), online video and audio activities, study guide, website.
A basic calculator.
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.
You can also visit the Technical requirements section for further computing information including the details of the support we provide.
You can contact a team of expert science study advisers through an online discussion forum, and they will be able to help you with academic questions to do with the course and the assessment. There will also be an online discussion forum that you can use to get in touch with other students.
Contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.
The assessment details for this course can be found in the facts box above.
You must use the online system to submit your end-of-module assessment (EMA).
You have to submit the single piece of written work for assessment after 21 weeks. There will be no other opportunity to complete the course.
The details given here are for the course that starts in October 2013 when it will be available for the last time.
Students who studied this course also studied at some time:
We regret that we are currently unable to accept registrations for this course. Where the course is to be presented again in the future, relevant registration information will be displayed on this page as soon as it becomes available.
“An excellent course with very interesting topics covered. Great for gardeners or just someone with a passing interest in plants. ...”
“This was a fascinating taster course and very well organised, working between two course books with excellent links to video ...”
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.
|About this course:|
|Course work includes:|
|No residential school|
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