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Postgraduate study skills in science, technology or mathematics


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This unit is from our archive and it is an adapted extract from Postgraduate research skills in science, technology, maths & computing (STM895) which is no longer in presentation. If you wish to study formally at the Open University, you may wish to explore the courses we offer in this curriculum area [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

The purpose of this unit is to help those embarking on a PhD in science, technology or mathematics. The selections that follow – there are three parts to the unit – are taken from a more substantial OU course that students starting a Higher Degree with the Open University will take early on in their studies. What follows is likely to be of interest to those contemplating PhD work in science (or technology or maths/computing) in any university in the UK or beyond, although you will of course come across some specific references to the OU context.

The three parts of the unit starts with Section 1, which discusses what is meant by PhD study and what is expected of those who undertake it. Section 2 looks at the important process of planning PhD work. Section 3 is more concerned with science as a discipline, looking at the how science is communicated in today’s society and aims to help PhD students get a better sense of how they might get involved in the process as they begin their studies.

You’ll see that some Portfolio exercises are included, which give students an opportunity to demonstrate and practice what they have learnt from each of the sections. Their portfolio file is an accumulative bank of evidence of what they have learnt from the course and therefore a useful summary of important outcomes; you may wish to apply this idea to your study of this and other OpenLearn material.