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Introducing health sciences: a case study approach

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This introductory Level 1 course explores the scientific and social aspects of disease and disability in a global context through seven case studies: water and health in an overcrowded world; pain; alcohol; screening for breast cancer; chronic lung disease; trauma and accidents; and visual impairment. Each case study integrates the biological, chemical, and physical sciences with psychology, health statistics, and social studies to illuminate underlying causes and personal and societal consequences. You’ll develop skills in: evaluating evidence; understanding and using key scientific terms and concepts; handling numbers; and interpreting graphs and tables. You’ll also learn to study using ICT – including interactive DVDs, internet and online resources.

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Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£440.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

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 2015.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£440.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

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 2015.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£985.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

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 2015.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£440.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

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 2015.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£985.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

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 2015.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£1316.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

An additional fee for the examination may apply.

31 Jan 2015 Sep 2015
£1316.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

An additional fee for the examination may apply.

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

Registration opens on 30/04/14

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 2015.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£865.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

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 2015.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£1316.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

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 2015.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£1316.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

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 2015.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£440.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

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 2015.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 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.

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 2015.

*Fees may vary by country.

What you will study

If you’re interested in global health issues; how the body works; statistics; or the scientific rationale for common screening procedures and treatments, this course is for you. You’ll also find this course useful if you are, or want to be, working in a health-related occupation and some knowledge of science could enhance your prospects. It’s unique in presenting a global perspective on health topics and in the range of scientific disciplines that contribute to each case study. The impact on individual lives is illustrated by real-life accounts. It’s designed for you if you are new to science, and we’ll support you step-by-step if you’re unfamiliar with using a computer to learn from interactive programs and online sources. The seven case studies covering major topics in global public health are presented in seven books with associated study companions and DVD-ROMs containing videos, computer models and interactive animations.

Book 1 Water and Health in an Overcrowded World. Most people now live in a very different world to the one in which we evolved. Rapid urbanisation and changes in human lifestyles means we inhabit a ‘human zoo’ that, despite many benefits, incurs many costs to health and happiness. We focus on the global shortage of clean water that exposes over a billion people to infectious diseases and chemical pollution.

Book 2 Pain. This case study presents an integrated account of the neurobiology and psychology of pain. It considers the common properties of pain triggered by injuries and the pain of events such as divorce. You’ll study the anatomy and function of the nervous system combined with psychological processes such as classical conditioning to understand how effective drugs, surgery, placebos and cognitive therapies are in treating pain.

Book 3 Alcohol and Human Health. Heavy drinking increases the risk of life-threatening diseases; accidental injury; psychological impairment; and addiction, but moderate intake may have some health benefits. You’ll explore not only global health statistics, but also the chemistry of ethanol: how alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream and its effects on major organs, behaviour and memory.

Book 4 Screening for Breast Cancer. Mammography screening using X-ray imaging to detect early breast cancers occurs in most wealthy countries. This case study examines the physics of mammography, the rationale for screening and the risk factors for breast cancer, and explains how normal and abnormal cells are distinguished in diagnostic tests. It considers the benefits, efficacy, costs and drawbacks of screening.

Book 5 Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: A Forgotten Killer. Permanent loss of lung function due to COPD affects millions of people worldwide. In richer countries, most are older cigarette smokers, but in poor countries, younger women and children exposed to indoor smoke from cooking fires also suffer. This case study explains the science of respiration and treatment, and the effects of COPD on people’s lives.

Book 6 Trauma, Repair and Recovery. Traumatic injury causes millions of deaths and disabilities globally and cases are rising as road traffic increases. You’ll look at how the body reacts to tissue damage, focusing on limb fractures in younger and older people. The psychological – as well as the physical – effects of injury are considered in the context of variations in access to emergency and longer-term care.

Book 7 Visual Impairment: A Global View. Partial or total loss of sight affects millions of people worldwide. Many cases are preventable or curable, but simple interventions are unaffordable in poorer countries, where even the lack of clean water is a significant threat to sight. This case study explains sight loss and corrective treatments through the anatomy and physiology of the eye and the physics of light and lenses.

Vocational relevance

This course will be attractive to anyone interested in a career in the areas of health care; health promotion; the pharmaceutical and food industries; technical support in the NHS; occupational, environmental and public health; as well as teaching in any of these fields.

Entry

This is a key introductory Level 1 course. Level 1 courses provide core subject knowledge and study skills needed for both higher education and distance learning, to help you to progress to Level 2 study. 

This course is for students who are new to science, as well as those with some background in a science-related subject. Although you’re not expected to have any previous knowledge of science, you should be able to add, subtract, multiply and divide simple whole numbers, and to understand written English of the standard of a broadsheet newspaper (The Daily Telegraph or The Guardian, for example). If you haven’t studied science or maths up to GCSE level fairly recently, or you’re new to using a computer to access online or DVD-based resources, you should expect to spend longer on the study materials. Our Student Registration & Enquiry Service will be able to discuss with you how much extra time you are likely to need and whether you should consider doing some preparatory study before beginning SDK125.

Our package Are you ready for science study? offers an interactive quiz to help you decide whether you already have the recommended background knowledge or experience to start the course or whether you should consider first studying an Openings course.

Introducing health sciences: a case study approach will help to prepare you for Exploring science (S104) and Level 2 health sciences courses (for example, Human biology (SK277) or The science of the mind: investigating mental health (SDK228)). By the end of the course you will be expected to be working successfully at the level required of first-year undergraduate students. 

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

Preparatory work

If you wish to improve your study skills, you are advised to read The Good Study Guide (2005) by Andy Northedge, published by The Open University.

This course includes study materials for an induction week to help you begin to develop skills in using a computer to access online learning resources from a website, communicate with others in your tutor group via an online forum and load the DVD-ROMs. These skills are practiced and reinforced during the rest of the course.

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

Please note that this course makes substantial use of complex visual material in the texts and includes a large number of interactive multimedia packages on DVD-ROMs. You will need to spend at least two hours in most study weeks using a personal computer to access course resources supplied on DVD-ROMs or via a website or other internet sites. Some assessment tasks are conducted collaboratively within your tutor group and require you to communicate with your tutor and other students via a computer-based forum. At the end of each case study, there is a block of electronic computer-marked assessment questions that are accessed, answered and submitted online via the website. If you use special hardware or software you must, well before the course begins, find out whether it works with the course software. Students with severe visual impairments may be able to achieve the learning outcomes if they are assisted by a sighted helper.

Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some 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 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

Seven individual printed course books with study companions; support materials for induction week; glossaries; assignments; DVD-ROMs; a website; and a course index.

You will need

You may need to draw diagrams or graphs and then use either a scanner or a digital camera to produce files of these diagrams for inclusion in your assessment.

You will also need a headset, with a microphone and earphones, to talk to your tutor and other students online during some of the course activities.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this course. It includes online activities – you can access using a web browser – and some course software provided on disk.

  • If you have purchased a new desktop or laptop computer running Windows since 2007 you should have no problems completing the computer-based activities.
  • A netbook, tablet or other mobile computing device is not suitable for this course – check our Technical requirements section.
  • If you have an Apple Mac or Linux computer – please note that you can only use it for this course by running Windows on it using Boot Camp or a similar dual-boot system.

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. We may also be able to offer group tutorials or day schools that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to attend. Where your tutorials are held will depend on the distribution of students taking the course. 

Some activities will involve collaborative work among the students in your tutor group, conducted online via the forum network with support from your tutor. Participation in these activities will be essential in enabling you to complete some of the assessed work for this course.

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

Assessment

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

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper.

Professional recognition

This course is a compulsory module in the Foundation Degree and Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE) in Paramedic Sciences, which are all accredited routes to professional recognition by the Health Professions Council.

Although this course is available for study by all OU students, the foundation degree and DipHE are at present restricted to students who are employed within a healthcare setting and are being supported in their practice learning by their employer.  

For further information on registering, you or your employer should contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service.

Future availability

The details given here are for the course that starts in October 2013 and February 2014. An induction week for students who are new to studying with the OU is scheduled for the week before the official course starts. We expect this course to be available twice 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.

Student Reviews

“This is a very well organised course that covers a lot of ground from many different areas of science (biology, ...”
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“Took this as part of my psychology degree - I liked the idea of doing a bit of proper science! ...”
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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 SDK125
Credits 30
OU Level 1
SCQF level 7
FHEQ level 4
Course work includes:
4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
7 Interactive computer-marked assignments (iCMAs)
Examination
No residential school

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