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Student and tutor module reviews

Questions in science

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  • Points: 60
  • Code: S111
  • Level: 1
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Student reviews

Overall I thought this module was a great introduction to studying the sciences, I think it's the best written and delivered module I've ever undertaken.

Something which the module description doesn't highlight is that the module isn't just an introduction to the sciences and the scientific method, it's an introduction to OU study, including studying via distance learning. Quite a lot of weight is placed on the assessments relating to planning, skill development, personal reflection, and so forth.

My main criticism of the module in terms of content though would be that it's really heavily skewed towards biology and chemistry, it felt like well over 60% of the content. Even the Topic on Mars was mostly about biology, the only real physics content was right at the end and almost seemed like it was added in out of necessity, rather than actually catering towards those of us who want to follow the Physics pathway. I hope the OU addresses this balance and add in more physics in whatever module supersedes this one. (Or even better, create a specific, separate introduction module for each of Biology, Physics and Chemistry.)

The mathematics elements are kept to a minimum and is all well explained step by step, with additional support resources available for those who need it, which is great. I'd say it is basic GCSE level material, drawing graphs, a bit of trig, using standard form, putting numbers in to formula, that's about it.

The module planning is also really good, a weekly schedule of what you should be doing is provided, there are a few breaks here and there so you can get a jump on the next Topic if you wish. The great thing is the flexibility of being able to study when it's convenient, however be aware that there are 6 written assignments to submit and a number of computer marked (maths) assessments that must be submitted by set dates (ignoring extensions/ special circumstances etc). So you will need a steady amount of time each week to progress rather than cramming at the last moment. Also there are a ton of practical's to complete which could be spaced out better, most of them are at the beginning of the module and take up a disproportionate amount of time. Pro tip: buy all the materials at the start of each topic so you can do the practical's as they come along. Also, don't skip over any of the Activities because they might crop up again later! It's definitely a case of getting out what you put in with this module.

I like the forum which was quite well used, although I found the tutor presentations of less use, it just seemed to be tutors reading off slides of the same material that's in the module. I feel the opportunity to broaden and deepen a students understanding is being missed here.

I hope that doesn't sound too negative, as I really do recommend the module, it is for everyone. Just be aware of how time consuming and frustrating you will find parts - but that's just par for the course... good luck!

Course starting: January 2020

Review posted: December 2020

Really well thought out, broad-based module.

Each topic is deliberately ambiguous in it's title to allow you to explore the concepts from varying perspectives and to try to instil the 'scientific approach' to looking at things.

If you've got a good understanding of the Sciences or perhaps have studied it before, you may find some module material simple - but there's no harm in reviewing it. If it's all new to you, this gives a good broad sweep of various areas.

I found it all very interesting and it allowed me to narrow down where I'd like to go with my next modules.

Luke Dixon

Course starting: October 2019

Review posted: November 2020

I really enjoyed this module. As someone who had only studied an arts degree previously at university it was refreshing to switch to something so rooted in objectivity.

The module was never very difficult but there were a few projects which gave students room to go further than required which was appreciated.

Overall I think this is a great introductory module to any STEM degree.

Dameon Byker

Course starting: January 2019

Review posted: October 2020

I would recommend S111 to anyone with an interest in science, who is starting out distance learning with the OU. Or, anyone who hasn't studied for a long time.

Although some general knowledge of science (if you're in the UK, think GCSE level) is assumed, it's a phased and gentle introduction. Tutors, in my experience, go out of their way to encourage and support you to develop study skills, both through the online tutorials, and the feedback you get on your tutor-marked assignments.

The most challenging part of the module, for me at least, was how isolating it can be studying with the OU. There's very little group work on this module, and the only face to face contact with tutors and other students is a day school right at the start of the module. It's a fact of life when it comes to distance learning, but it is a challenge; and I would advise anyone considering this module to think carefully about how much they 'want it' and how they're going to maintain their motivation.

Mathew Sims

Course starting: January 2019

Review posted: July 2020

A superb introduction to science, in general. I can recommend this module to anyone who wants to study a science degree with the OU but does not know which specialty.

It covers biology, physics, chemistry, geology and a bit of maths.

By far, the most challenging aspect for me was the geology. It seemed to go on and on! However, it was rewarding. The amount of mathematics required is minimal; and S111 provides all the necessary tools.

As for the tutor-marked assignments? They are good, and well structured. I can highly recommend this module for any budding scientist. It is brilliant.

Matthew Anthony Hopkins

Course starting: January 2019

Review posted: July 2020

S111 is an interesting and gentle introductory module to science covering a broad spectrum of topics.
I found the course suitable for newcomers to science while at the same time offering more advanced content for people who have studied a scientific discipline before. The mathematics used is basic and is taught as the module progresses.

Each and every unit presented was well written, stimulating and informative with plenty of hooks embedded so as to tempt students to continue their studies at a higher level later on.

For me the major drawbacks were the lack of an examination and the wholly online presentation. This meant trawling through hundreds of web pages making it very difficult to find and cross reference content essential for revision and coherent learning.

Course starting: October 2017

Review posted: September 2018

Please note

Each of the views expressed above is an individual's very particular response, largely unedited, and should be viewed with that in mind. Since modules are subject to regular updating, some of the issues identified may have already been addressed. In some instances the faculty may have provided a response to a comment. If you have a query about a particular module, please contact your Regional Centre.

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