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Physics and Astronomy

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How did the Universe begin? What is light, and why is the sky blue? What is a black hole and how could I see one? What is special about silicon chips or superconductors? How do body scanners, solar cells and lasers work? If you have an enquiring mind, studying physics and astronomy will help you find the answers.

Physics explores the fundamental laws that underlie the whole of science, and applies these laws to a vast range of situations, from atoms to living beings to galaxies. Physics has shaped modern technology and it will shape our future. Many of the breakthroughs needed to deal with global warming will be made by physicists.

Studying physics and astronomy develops skills that are highly-sought by employers. These include the ability to state and solve problems, to think clearly and logically and to communicate complex ideas. The Confederation of British Industry is appealing for many more physics graduates, so an OU qualification in physics can give you a real edge in your career. Research and development, engineering, information technology, financial services, education and the armed forces are just some of the sectors where a background in physics and astronomy is valued very highly.

Degrees ( More about Degrees
More about Degrees
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Undergraduate or bachelors degrees are nationally recognised qualifications consisting of academic study designed to help you gain a thorough understanding of a subject.

For a degree in a named subject, such as business studies or humanities, you'll study mainly in your chosen subject, although you may be able to include some modules from other subjects.

With The Open University you could also study an Open degree where you can combine a range of modules from similar or different subjects to suit either your particular career or personal interests.

You can use a degree to:

  • change careers or progress your current career
  • gain an in-depth knowledge and understanding of a subject you are interested in
  • gain professional recognition
  • go onto postgraduate study, such as a diploma or masters degree.
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  • Mathematics and Physics
    You'll gain an understanding of the concepts in modern physics together with the mathematics that underlies them.
  • Natural Sciences
    Study a broad range of science subjects or specialise in astronomy, planetary science, biology, health sciences, chemistry, analytical science, environmental science, Earth sciences, or physics.
  • Open degree
    The BA/BSc Open Degree is a qualification that gives you a huge choice in terms of subjects and modules that you study to make up your degree.

Diplomas of Higher Education ( More about Diplomas of Higher Education
More about Diplomas of Higher Education
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A Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE) is equivalent to two thirds of an honours degree. They are nationally recognised qualifications focusing either on a particular job or profession, or academic study.

DipHEs are designed to increase the professional and technical skills of staff within a profession or extend your knowledge and understanding of a particular subject. A DipHE shows that you are capable of extended study at university level.

You can use a DipHE to:

  • change careers or progress your current career
  • gain technical and professional skills
  • gain a greater knowledge and understanding of a subject you are interested in
  • gain professional recognition
  • achieve a full honours degree through additional study.

The Diploma of Higher Education might be of particular interest to those living and working in Scotland.

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Certificates of Higher Education ( More about Certificates of Higher Education
More about Certificates of Higher Education
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A Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE) is a nationally recognised qualification focusing on either a particular job or profession, or academic study. Equivalent to the first year of a full honours degree, they are the most basic level of qualification that can be gained in higher education and show that you are capable of studying successfully at university level.

You can use a CertHE to:

  • gain confidence to study successfully at university level
  • change careers or progress your current career
  • build on your existing experience and gain new skills
  • gain a broad introduction to a subject you are interested in
  • achieve a foundation degree, DipHE or full honours degree through additional study.
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OU Certificates ( More about OU Certificates
More about OU Certificates
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OU Certificates are specially designed Open University qualifications focusing either on a particular job or profession, or academic study. For example The Open University's Certificate in Supporting Learning in Primary Schools is designed for teaching assistants and other kinds of classroom support staff, including volunteers. Not all OU Certificates are entry level qualifications.

You can use an OU Certificate to:

  • enhance or progress your current career
  • gain a greater knowledge and understanding of a subject you are interested in.
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Getting started with an Access module

There are two ways to start a qualification. If you haven’t studied for a long time or need to build your confidence, beginning your studies with an Access module may be the right choice for you.

Choose a qualification to find out more.

Study a module as a standalone course

You can study a single module on its own for personal interest or to improve your career prospects. See the list of all our individual courses in Physics and Astronomy.

Postgraduate options

If you already have a degree, you may want to see postgraduate courses and qualifications in Science.

Are you already an OU student ? Go to StudentHome for information on choosing your next module.

Studying outside of UK and Europe?

If you live outside of the UK, Republic of Ireland and Europe, please visit our website for international students.

Your questions

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