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    An undergraduate course in Science.

Molecules, medicines and drugs: a chemical story

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Explore the discovery and development of a range of drugs and medicines that relieve pain, alleviate symptoms, minimise the risk of infection and effect cures. Molecules, medicines and drugs: a chemical story is one of a series of short, five-month 10-credit courses introducing fascinating topics in science. It is a highly interactive online course that focuses on the chemistry that underlies medicines. With a choice of start dates, this course enables you to try out a new area of study before you commit yourself to a longer course, or top up your knowledge and skills between longer courses.

Register for the course


Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 See description
£190.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

11 Apr 2015 See description
£190.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in April 2015.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 See description
£450.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

11 Apr 2015 See description
£450.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in April 2015.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 See description
£190.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

11 Apr 2015 See description
£190.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in April 2015.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 See description
£190.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

11 Apr 2015 See description
£190.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in April 2015.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 See description
£450.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

11 Apr 2015 See description
£450.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in April 2015.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 See description
£439.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

11 Apr 2015 See description
£439.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in April 2015.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 See description
£190.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

11 Apr 2015 See description
£190.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in April 2015.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 See description
£400.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

11 Apr 2015 See description
£400.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in April 2015.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 See description
£439.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

11 Apr 2015 See description
£439.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in April 2015.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 See description
£439.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

11 Apr 2015 See description
£439.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in April 2015.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 See description
£190.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

11 Apr 2015 See description
£190.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in April 2015.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 See description
£439.00
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.

11 Apr 2015 See description
£439.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in April 2015.

*Fees may vary by country.

What you will study

From Hippocrates to modern times, society has sought ways of relieving pain and curing or preventing disease. From ancient wisdom to herbal remedies, there have been important discoveries resulting in the development of medicines that are commonplace today. Modern research at the molecular level constantly adds to the range of drugs available to combat ill-health.

After a brief introduction (which discusses the development and testing of drugs within a social and economic setting), you’ll move 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. There are online activities to help you to visualise the three-dimensional structures and shapes of the molecules concerned and to 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. The course makes use of some basic ideas from chemistry and develops some of the skills associated with studying our world at the molecular level. 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. The reward will be an understanding of some of the science behind the discovery, development and mode of action of a range of medicines and drugs.

The study materials have been developed specifically for online study – there are no books. The course is delivered completely online via the course website through a variety of online activities: reading text; looking at and manipulating molecular models and chemical structures; studying video or audio sequences about issues relating to drug developments; writing brief notes; and accessing websites. Additional activities and quizzes will help test your understanding.

This course has been partly funded by the Wolfson Foundation in collaboration with The Royal Society of Chemistry.

Entry

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 ideas and skills needed as and when they are required. This includes an understanding of how the structures of molecules underpin their properties and hence the uses to which they can be put. You will probably find you can move faster through the course if you have studied some chemistry and/or biology before, but the essential things are an interest in the subject and the motivation to understand some of the science behind it.

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. A maths skills ebook is provided to help you with, for example, fractions, percentages, reading graphs and tables, and scientific units as required by the course.

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

The course is completely delivered online via the website, so you will have to spend most of your time using a personal computer and the internet. You may be required to draw diagrams or to annotate by hand diagrams that you download, and then to use either a scanner or digital camera to produce electronic versions of these diagrams for inclusion in your assessment. Alternatively, creating diagrams electronically will be acceptable. 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

All the study materials will be provided to you online via the website.

You will need

Basic scientific calculator.

You may be required to draw diagrams or to annotate by hand diagrams that you download, and then to use either a scanner or a digital camera to produce files of these diagrams for inclusion in your assessment.

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

Study support

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.

Assessment

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.

Future availability

The details given here are for the course that starts in April and October 2014, and April 2015 when it will be available for the last time.

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

“I loved this course from start to finish. I found it was well written and engaging and the TMA was ...”
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“This was a thoroughly worthwhile investment of time. I'm doing a Natural Sciences degree and this module covered a lot ...”
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“PLEASE NOTE: This review and all previous reviews relate to the first edition of this module. The second edition, which ...”
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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 SK185
Credits 10
OU Level 1
SCQF level 7
FHEQ level 4
Course work includes:
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

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