Alternative route to a chemistry degree that combines part-time and full-time study now available through the Open University.

Chemistry work in a lab

Source: Beth Goody Illustration

A new degree that combines part-time and full-time study offers students an alternative route to a chemistry degree, and could help widen participation in chemistry in higher education. Developed over the past three years by the Open University (OU) in collaboration with the Universities of Loughborough, Nottingham Trent, Reading and Sheffield, the '2plus2' scheme mixes distance learning with full-time study at a campus university. 

In the first two years of the scheme students study part-time at home with the OU through its programme of supported distance learning. During this initial stage students develop a thorough grounding in chemistry and maths, and each year take part in one-week residential schools to gain practical experience. Having successfully completed their OU studies, students join the second year of the BSc chemistry course at their chosen partner universities and study full-time for the remaining two years of the degree programme. Each university has staff dedicated to helping students on the 2plus2 scheme make the transition from part-time to full-time study.

The scheme is designed to offer students flexibility so that they can start a degree while working to build up funds to support their full-time study. According to Dr Elizabeth Page, director of undergraduate studies at the department of chemistry at the University of Reading, 'as school-leavers become more conscious of the cost of higher education the 2plus2 scheme is becoming a popular alternative to three years' full-time study'. With no formal entry requirements and endorsed by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), the scheme also provides a possible route to a degree in chemistry for students with no prior qualifications in science. 

The first cohort of students on the scheme started their full-time study at the pilot universities this autumn. In addition, the chemistry departments at Bangor University, the University of East Anglia, the University of Leeds, and Newcastle University have recently joined the scheme as it rolls out across England and Wales.

Applications to the 2plus2 scheme are welcomed all-year round. Applicants should first select where they want to study full-time and contact their chosen university's chemistry department directly. For further information visit the Open University website