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Postgraduate Diploma in Science and Society

This postgraduate diploma is for students who want to explore aspects of science and society at postgraduate level through taught modules. It offers an opportunity to pursue contemporary issues in science communication, science education and public engagement with science. You will experience the innovative teaching methods pioneered by The Open University and develop a wide range of skills associated with postgraduate study.

Study Mode

Online Education, Distance Learning & External study modes available

Career relevance and employability

Completing this postgraduate diploma course will equip you with some key transferable skills which will be relevant to current debates about science and society. You will learn to critically evaluate current research in this field of study as well as evaluating a range of research methodologies. You will learn to deal with complex issues and make judgements and decisions in complex and unpredictable situations.

You will learn to communicate information and conclusions to specialist and non-specialist audiences including professional audiences, demonstrate originality in tackling and solving problems and plan and implement tasks at a postgraduate level.

The nature of this qualification will develop your independent learning skills and enhance your skills in searching, filtering and assessing the credibility of information from a range of sources, and communicating with others in both professional and academic contexts.

There is 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 OU study and your career and look at our subject pages to find out about career opportunities.


For this postgraduate diploma you require:

120 credits from the following compulsory modules:

Postgraduate compulsory modules Credits Next start
Communicating science in the information age (SH804)

Consider how science is communicated between professionals and to members of the public - from academic journals to popular science books, TV and news reports.

See full description.

60 Jan
Contemporary issues in science learning (SEH806)

Investigate key issues in contemporary science teaching, including the influence of theories of learning; the purposes of science education; and using ICT to support learning.

See full description.

60 Jan

Or, subject to the rules about excluded combinations, the discontinued modules S802, S804

Educational aims

The overall aim of the qualification is to develop knowledge and understanding, cognitive skills, key skills, and practical and professional skills in the study of science and society. The object will be to allow you to develop postgraduate skills in studying science and society and critically evaluating relevant literature.

In summary, the aims of the qualification are to allow you:

  • to develop a critical understanding of current issues affecting science and society
  • to reflect critically on contemporary theoretical approaches in the study of science and society
  • to develop skills and a critical understanding of methodological approaches relevant to the study of science and society.

After completing the Postgraduate Diploma in Science and Society, you should be able to:

  • use electronic means of communication, information searching and retrieval
  • critically assess literature in science and society
  • prepare an extended piece of writing that critically engages with current theoretical, methodological and/or practical perspectives in science and society.

Generic skills developed in assignments include:

  • use of text and electronic resources
  • reflect on developing understanding of overarching themes in the award
  • critical reading
  • comprehension
  • communication to specialist and non-specialist audiences
  • synthesis of information
  • critical understanding of complex issues where science plays a central role.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

On completion of the qualification you should have a systematic understanding, knowledge and critical awareness of:

  • current science-based issues, much of which will be at the forefront of the study of science and society
  • techniques applicable to advanced scholarship in the study of science and society.

Cognitive skills

On completion of the qualification you should be able to:

  • critically evaluate current research and advanced scholarship in the study of science and society
  • evaluate research methodologies, develop critiques and propose alternative approaches, where appropriate
  • deal with complex science-based issues, both systematically and proficiently, and make sound judgements in the absence of complete data
  • address decision making in complex and unpredictable situations
  • demonstrate advanced scholarship in the application of knowledge.

Practical and/or professional skills

On completion of the qualification you should be able to:

  • continue advancement of knowledge and understanding in the study of science and society
  • exercise initiative and personal responsibility
  • exercise independent learning ability required for continuing professional development.

Key skills

On completion of the qualification you should be able to:

  • communicate information and conclusions effectively, both to specialist and to non-specialist audiences
  • demonstrate self-direction in tackling and solving problems
  • act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional level
  • use information and communications technology (ICT) to locate information and to communicate with the University.

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