Certificate of Higher Education in Natural Sciences
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Are you fascinated by life’s big questions? Are you thinking about studying for a degree? The Certificate of Higher Education in Natural Sciences is the ideal way to start. It offers a broad introduction to a wide range of science subjects and is the first step on the way to an honours degree. You’ll explore biology; chemistry; Earth sciences; environmental sciences; physics; and astronomy and planetary science. Flexible, accessible study arrangements mean you can do all the practical work near where you live, or online in your own home. By the end of the certificate course, you’ll have the core subject knowledge and study skills needed for further study – and in addition to enriching your appreciation of life, you’ll have completed the first year of an honours degree in natural sciences.
Fees and facts
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Flexible, part-time study through
Certificate of Higher Education
Certificate of Higher Education
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.
There are no formal entry requirements to study this qualification.
If you want to make sure you are prepared for studying science at this level, visit our diagnostic quiz materials
Are You Ready For Science?. The materials will help you decide whether the recommended starting point for the qualification is right for you, whether you need to do any preparatory study and, if you do, will point you in the right direction.
If you are considering a Level 1 mathematics module as part of this qualification, visit our
MathsChoices website for advice on how to revise and refresh your mathematical knowledge.
Career relevance and employability
This certificate course develops a variety of skills that are highly valued in the labour market, such as analytical, numerical, IT and communication skills, teamwork, and problem solving. Many of these translate very smoothly into the modern workplace, which is increasingly concerned with knowledge management and the effective communication and presentation of ideas and arguments. The logical, reasoned approach needed for science study is relevant to many roles in the financial, business and public sectors – and employers in all fields put a high value on anyone who can deal competently with a large amount of complex information and turn it to good use. The ability to select and analyse relevant data and to present conclusions concisely and logically is essential in most lines of work, as is the ability to communicate clearly both orally and in writing.
The Certificate of Higher Education in Natural Sciences will also help you develop critical thinking and independent research skills, and the ability to take the initiative – all valuable assets in today’s competitive environment.
There’s more information about how OU study can improve your employability in the
OU’s Employability Statement from our Careers Advisory Service. You can also read or download our publication and look at our OU study and your career subject pages to find out about career opportunities.
Choose a pathway and register
Pathways allow you to specialise or choose particular topics that interest you. You will need to choose a pathway before registering.
Credit for previous study elsewhere
You cannot count credit for study you have already completed elsewhere towards this qualification.
The learning outcomes of this qualification are described in four areas:
Knowledge and understanding
Practical and professional skills
Read more detailed information about the learning outcomes, and how they are acquired through teaching, learning and assessment methods.
On successful completion of the required modules you will be awarded a Certificate of Higher Education in Natural Sciences and will be entitled to use the letters CertHE (Open) after your name.
As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the following regulations:
These regulations are also available on our
Essential Documents website.
If you have a disability
Choosing the qualification that’s right for you is very important. Depending on your disability, long-term health condition, mental health disability or specific learning difficulty, you may need to consider any challenges posed by:
the learning objectives: for example, to gain an honours degree in a language you must be physically able to speak the language
how the modules are taught: for example, some of our science qualifications require that you complete laboratory work
any work-based competency requirements.
Choosing the right qualification can be a complex mix of the subject requirements and the support you may need. To help you assess whether the qualification you are interested in will work for you, further advice is available from:
You will need a computer with internet access to study for this qualification. For most OU qualifications a Microsoft Windows (new since 2007),
Apple Mac (OS X 10.6 or later) or Linux computer should be adequate. However, some qualifications require more specific IT equipment, in which case you
will need additional software to use an Apple Mac or Linux computer. A detailed technical specification for your modules will be made available when you
register. Please note, technical specifications do change over time to match computer developments and the way we teach.
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.