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Postgraduate study skills in science, technology or mathematics

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Are you about to undertake a PhD in science, technology or mathematics? If so this free course, Postgraduate study skills in science, technology or mathematics, will help you to examine your work processes. You will consider and develop the nature of postgraduate work and look at the planning of work needed at doctoral level.

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • demonstrate a familiarity with the required rigour, depth, and scope of a PhD
  • demonstrate an awareness that there is no ‘one solution’, but that PhD models are influenced by institutions, disciplines, and topics
  • demonstrate an awareness of the need for both good research and good presentation
  • show initiative, develop the ability to work independently and be self-reliant
  • assign key tasks and schedule time.

By: The Open University

  • Duration 14 hours
  • Updated Wednesday 2nd March 2016
  • Advanced level
  • Posted under Education
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Postgraduate study skills in science, technology or mathematics


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The purpose of this course is to help those embarking on a PhD in science, technology or mathematics. The selections that follow – there are three parts to the course – 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 course 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.

This OpenLearn course provides a sample of postgraduate study in Science [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

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