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SS011 Laboratory skills for science

This short laboratory school provides the opportunity for laboratory-based practical work, helping to build confidence in practical science techniques including recording, reporting and interpreting data.


It is suitable for students who are studying or have successfully completed either S111, S112 or SM123. Priority will be given to students who are studying their final Stage 1 module.

If you have any additional requirements (e.g. accessibility or dietary requirements), please can you highlight these at an early stage so that we can discuss the reasonable adjustments that may need to be made. Labcoats and all other PPE will be provided. 

Information for 2024

Venue: The Open University Campus, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA

Duration: 2.5 days

Tuition Fee: £250

Laboratory school dates:
Monday 15th - Wednesday 17th July 2024
Monday 22nd - Wednesday 24th July 2024
Make sure your travel plans allow you to register between 12:30 and 13:00 on the afternoon of day 1

Registration:  for SS011 can only be completed by telephone. Call +44 (0) 300 303 5303. Lines are open between 8am and 5:30pm Monday to Friday. We will update this page when registration for 2024 is open.

Information for 2025

Venue: The Open University Campus, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA

Duration: 2.5 days

Tuition Fee: £265

Laboratory school dates:
Tuesday 15th - Thursday 17th July 2025
Tuesday 22nd - THursday 24th July 2025
Make sure your travel plans allow you to register between 12:30 and 13:00 on the afternoon of day 1.

Travel and accommodation:

You will need to book and pay for your own accommodation, travel and food associated with the laboratory school. The tuition fee for the course and these additional costs cannot be covered with a part-time tuition fee loan. When booking accommodation please be aware of transportation requirements as the campus is several miles from the centre of Milton Keynes.

Experiments and techniques covered in the practical sessions 

There are three activities at the laboratory school.  Activity A: the determination of water hardness and radioactivity; Activity B: analysing our environment and Activity C: a biology seed experiment.

In Activity A you will:

  • Determine the hardness of water samples by carrying out titrations and hence, calculate the ‘hardness’ of a water sample. Techniques used: preparing solutions, pipetting and titrations.
  • Use a Geiger counter to measure background count, the radioactivity of various radioactive sources and the absorption of radiation by various sources. Techniques used: handling radioactive sources, recording data, plotting graphs and interpreting results.

In Activity B you will:

  • Use qualitative and quantitative methods to determine various metal ions in a water sample. Techniques used: preparing solutions, colorimetry, observing and recording changes in chemical reactions, plotting calibration graphs and interpreting results.
  • Qualitatively identify various metals in solids, using flame tests and a hand-held spectroscope. Techniques used: flame tests using Bunsen burners, interpreting line spectra, recording observations and interpreting results.
  • Determine the angles of diffraction of spectral lines from a sodium source and identify unknown metals and other elements using a grating spectrometer.  Techniques used: spectrometry, diffraction, numerical calculations, recording and interpreting data. 

In Activity C you will:

  • Investigate the effect of salt solution on seedling germination and growth.  
  • Take measurements, perform numerical calculations, record and interpret data

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