Why Study Science? | Oxford Open Learning

Why Study Science?

Along with English and Maths, Science is the cornerstone of any secondary education.

For some students, the sciences are also the most challenging of subjects, but it pays to persevere as a high proportion of university programmes and careers depend on scientific skill.

The choice of sciences needs to be carefully considered. Combined Science (which links together Biology, Chemistry and Physics in three separate but equal sections) is the bare minimum as far as a sensible programme and the National Curriculum is concerned, but for most it will make sense to tackle all three of the main sciences separately

IGCSE for Science distance learning?

For private (external) candidates, GCSE Science is not a possible option because of the necessity for controlled assessment during the coursework, so distance learners are obliged to tackle International GCSE rather than GCSE. The Edexcel international GCSE Science specifications have the advantage that coursework is not required and the whole specification is examined through written examination papers at the end of the course.

The main difference between GCSE and International GCSE is that, with GCSE, each science is divided into three short examination papers of increasing difficulty. So you might take nine papers in all if you were doing all three individual sciences. With International GCSEs, on the other hand, there are only two papers per individual science but the first one is the equivalent of both the first two GCSE papers combined.

Combined Science International GCSE combines Paper 1 from each of the three separate sciences and is the equivalent of not one but two International GCSEs.

Overall, the International GCSE Science specifications are at least as demanding as the GCSE and are rather more academic and rigorous in some ways, with greater depth of knowledge required for certain topics. Overall, they represent a better preparation for A-levels and beyond

Science Careers

A vast number of careers require a firm grounding in Science. If you want to go on to train as a doctor, vet, physiotherapist chemist, beautician, architect, surveyor, engineer, farmer, sports trainer, a strong knowledge of at least one of the sciences will be required. But there are thousands of other careers for which it will be similarly essential.

Most students will already have studied Science, to some degree, at a lower level, e.g. to Key Stage 3. Although our international GCSE courses go back to first principles, it will help to have grasped the basics before starting one of these courses.

As well as Biology, Chemistry and Physics, we also offer a separate international GCSE course in Human Biology. Although the Subject Content for Human Biology does overlap, to some degree, with Biology, it is permissible to take both subjects at the same time. Please talk to our Student Advisers if you are uncertain which combination of sciences will suit you best.

Each of our Science courses includes a wealth of practical activities which can be undertaken safely within a home environment. Each activity can be tackled without specialist equipment and without danger under adult supervision. There are no compulsory practical exams, as such, for International GCSE, but candidates are required to show a familiarity with scientific procedures and methods in their written examinations.

A GCSE (or standard equivalent) grade C in a science subject is compulsory if you want to embark on teacher training and teach primary or key stages 2/3 in the UK’s maintained education sector.

Abstract illustration of cells in mitosis or multiplication of cells

International GCSE Biology

Oxford Open Learning’s International GCSE Biology course is designed to prepare students for the Edexcel international GCSE in Biology (4BI0) for examination in June 2015 or later years.


Human Anatomy image

International Human Biology

Oxford Open Learning’s Human Biology IGCSE course is designed to prepare students for the Edexcel IGCSE in Human Biology (4HB0) for examination in June 2015 or later years. There is no coursework element to this specification.


Formula and Molecules

International GCSE Chemistry

Oxford Open Learning’s international GCSE Chemistry course is designed to prepare students for the Edexcel international GCSE in Chemistry (4CH0) for examination in June 2015 or later years.


Hand holding an energy light

International GCSE Physics

The new Oxford Open Learning international GCSE Physics course has been developed to meet the requirements of of the Edexcel specification 4PH0.


Digital illustration of an atom

International GCSE Science

The course was developed to meet the requirements of Edexcel specification 4SC0, as examined in June 2015 and later years.


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