• Anytime
    Application Deadline
  • 6 months
Crude oil is currently our most important global source of energy. This Science: Living Without Oil course from The Open University UK explores oil’s vital role in the modern world and assesses some of the exciting scientific developments that could lead to sustainable alternatives to oil. 


Crude oil is currently our most important global source of energy. It is vital in the manufacture of many modern materials. But the world’s supply of oil is finite, its price is unstable and our reliance on oil has damaging environmental consequences. Can we sustainably fuel our transport needs with biofuels, electricity or hydrogen? Can we replace the plastics we derive from crude oil with ones made by microorganisms or plants?

You will explore the properties of crude oil that make it so useful and then use this knowledge to examine some potential sustainable alternatives. You’ll study the development of biofuels; battery electric vehicles; hydrogen as fuel; and the production of biologically derived materials to replace plastics. Throughout the course you’ll focus on assessing the environmental impacts of these potential alternatives to oil products.

The Science: Living Without Oil course from The Open University UK will demonstrate that while developing these alternatives requires the application of a wide range of different scientific disciplines, chemistry plays a central role in our efforts to replace oil.

Detailed Programme Facts

  • Deadline and start date A student can apply at any time for this programme, there is no deadline.
  • Programme intensity Part-time
    • Average part-time duration 6 months
  • Languages
    • English
  • Delivery mode
  • More information Go to the programme website

Programme Structure

By the end of this course you should be able to:

Demonstrate general knowledge and understanding of some of the basic facts, concepts, principles and language relating to the science and social issues appropriate to the development of alternatives to oil products. In particular, you should be able to demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of:

  • the chemistry of oil products and their renewable alternatives
  • some of the key scientific concepts used in the development of alternative energy sources and biomaterials
  • some of the key social and environmental factors influencing decision-makers in relation to the development of renewable alternatives to oil products.

English Language Requirements

This programme requires students to demonstrate proficiency in English.

Academic Requirements

  • You will meet a wide range of scientific and technological subjects in this course and will have to be prepared to understand some basic science: particularly chemistry but also some physics, biology and geology. You will probably find that you can move faster through the study materials if you have a little basic knowledge of general science, especially chemistry. However all you really need is an interest in the issues involved and in learning more about the underlying science.
  • Mathematically, you should be able to add, subtract, multiply and divide positive and negative numbers and understand the use of brackets in numerical calculations. 

Tuition Fee

  • EU/EEA Applies to you

    165 GBP/full
    Tuition Fee
    Based on the original amount of 165 GBP for the full programme and a duration of 6 months.
We've labeled the tuition fee that applies to you because we think you are from and prefer over other currencies.


Check the programme website for information about funding options.

StudyPortals Tip: Students can search online for independent or external scholarships that can help fund their studies. Check the scholarships to see whether you are eligible to apply. Many scholarships are either merit-based or needs-based.

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