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The Frozen Planet, Short Course

  • Application Deadline
  • 5 months
University rank #501 (WUR) Online
At any one time during the year, ice and snow cover over one-third of our planet. The Frozen Planet course at The Open University UK explores the wonder of the polar world and explains how ice has shaped – and controls – our planet. 


The Frozen Planet course at The Open University UK is one of a series of short, five month modules introducing fascinating topics in science. 

With a choice of start dates it enables you to try out an area of study before you commit yourself to a longer module, or top up your knowledge and skills between longer modules.

At any one time during the year ice and snow cover over one third of our planet: ice has shaped the landscapes, it determines the structure of the ecosystem and the animals that prosper, and it even drives our global climate.

There is more to the two polar regions of our planet than the cold temperatures and hardship we frequently see in the the media. The two poles are very different: a large part of the Arctic is an ocean covered with ice a few metres thick, whilst the Antarctic is mostly covered in ice kilometres thick. But the physical controls on the environment are the same in both cases. In the winter darkness, temperatures decrease and snow and ice advance towards the equator, sometimes leaving the great cities of northern Europe uncomfortable for humans. 

Yet still, charismatic and well-known wildlife such as whales, walrus, penguins and polar bears flourish in the ecological niches that the polar environment creates. But it is not just the animals – throughout our entire history humans have only known a planet shaped and controlled by ice.

Detailed Programme Facts

  • Programme intensity Part-time
    • Average part-time duration 5 months
  • Credits
    10 alternative credits
  • Languages
    • English
  • Delivery mode

Programme Structure

  • This module is about the science of the frozen planet. It is about the physical controls on the shape and character of our planet over millions of years through to the climate we experience today. 
  • You will investigate the different environmental niches where wildlife flourishes, and the strategies some species have developed to exploit them. 
  • You will discover the influence of humans on the environment and the motivations and discoveries of the early polar explorers. 
  • The poles are justifiably important but also vulnerable and so, throughout the module, you will learn about their current management and fate in the near future.

English Language Requirements

This programme may require students to demonstrate proficiency in English.

Academic Requirements

  • The course does not assume any previous scientific background and teaches the concepts and skills as they are required. It’s designed for people who are new to the subject area.
  • Although a little basic knowledge of general science would be useful, all you need is an interest in the polar regions and how they affect the rest of the planet. 
  • Mathematically you need only to be able to add, subtract, multiply and divide simple numbers. 
  • To cope with the printed material, you should be able to understand in outline the sort of articles printed in a broadsheet newspaper (The Daily Telegraph or The Guardian, for example). 
  • You should also be able to write your thoughts down comprehensibly.

Tuition Fee

  • International

    488 GBP/full
    Tuition Fee
    Based on the original amount of 488 GBP for the full programme and a duration of 5 months.
  • EU/EEA

    488 GBP/full
    Tuition Fee
    Based on the original amount of 488 GBP for the full programme and a duration of 5 months.
We've labeled the tuition fee that applies to you because we think you are from and prefer over other currencies.


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