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To wonder if the OU is really equivalent to a regular uni?

(60 Posts)
PuzzledOfPuzzledom Wed 14-Feb-18 23:14:36

I’ve been thinking for a while about starting a degree in English Literature and I’ve started researching possible universities. The OU looks ideal to me as it’s so flexible compared to other unis, but I can’t quite get my head around how it can really be equivalent to other unis as the amount of reading and variety of modules seems so limited in comparison.

For instance, in year two the OU seems to offer two compulsory modules and the reading lists seem to have about 14-16 tests on them so I assume about 30 texts total. Other Unis I’ve looked at seem to split the year up into 4-6 different modules, each of which seem to cover maybe 15-20 texts so at least 60+ texts in total. Other unis I’ve looked at are Birkbeck (who also offer part time options) and a couple of other red bricks.

I’m not at all intending to criticise anyone who studies with the OU (I already know how hard it is to combine studies and work), I’m just struggling to understand how their degrees can be equivalent to other universities if it seems like the range of modules and number of texts is so limited in comparison.

Does anyone have experience of the OU and can you tell me if I’m right to be cautious? If it matters, after completing my undergrad degree I’m really interested in doing an MA and possibly a PhD (circumstances and funding dependent of course).

lottiegarbanzo Wed 14-Feb-18 23:18:53

Their 'modules' are much longer - part time over a year, so equivalent to a whole full-time semester. Their 'modules' (fairly sure they're not called that) are more portmanteau 'current topics in subject x' courses, incorporating a number of different topics.

The degrees are of an equivalent standard and are viewed as such by other universities IME.

lottiegarbanzo Wed 14-Feb-18 23:22:06

The marking is certainly equivalent. While an obvious difference is that there are no entry criteria, they don't give away high grades.

As far as I'm aware, 15% of OU students to complete their degree gain firsts. In some other universities this is much higher.

sixteenapples Wed 14-Feb-18 23:22:20

I did a BA at 19 and an OU Bsc at 35-40 -ish.

Just as rigorous. Teaching just as good. I worked harder too.

Uni gave me a social life and the living away experience. OU taught me a lot about managing deadlines and working systematically , (I had young children and a job)

sixteenapples Wed 14-Feb-18 23:23:46

Oh and I got exactly the same grade in both degrees. !!

Akire Wed 14-Feb-18 23:24:14

THE text books would be the bare mim you would need. You would be expected to read around any research a subject on top. For example one text book may quote thousands of papers and references there’s no way they would expect you to buy every book.

newyearsameme80 Wed 14-Feb-18 23:24:25

You can do your MA and PhD with the OU too.

PuzzledOfPuzzledom Wed 14-Feb-18 23:25:58

lottie, my understanding is the OU’s second year is made up of two big modules (which you would study over two years) whereas other unis second years are made up of 4-6 smaller modules. But that still doesn’t account for the difference in module choice and breadth of texts studied?

That’s good to hear you’ve found they are viewed as equivalent by other unis though. Do you mind if I ask if you mean viewed as equivalent for entry to postgraduate degrees, or for another purpose?

RoseWhiteTips Wed 14-Feb-18 23:27:53

Given the choice, the OU would not be in my radar.
Entrance requirements - set by all other universities - ensure students have reached the standard required.

RoseWhiteTips Wed 14-Feb-18 23:28:09

...on my radar

ChocFudgeLover Wed 14-Feb-18 23:28:40

The marking with OU is different. You need over 85 to get the equivalent of a first grade, whereas at brick unis I believe it's over 75?

Fintress Wed 14-Feb-18 23:29:59

OU degrees are looked upon very favourably. Personally I found it was a lot bloody harder doing an OU degree compared to the one I did at uni full time. You don't have the same support as a regular uni and you have to be much more self motivated. Hard work but worth it. Funnily enough I was discussing OU with my husband the other night as I'm contemplating whether or not to do another course as I actually love studying.

RoseWhiteTips Wed 14-Feb-18 23:31:39

University is about so much more than the OU can provide.

lottiegarbanzo Wed 14-Feb-18 23:31:39

I don't know about texts as my course was in quite a different subject. It does explain the lack of 'module' choice though. They create a portmanteau 'super-module' for you, so you may not have the same amount of choice but you do cover a good range of topics.

brogueish Wed 14-Feb-18 23:32:00

Absolutely equivalent, in fact OU degrees often seen as extra impressive by employers due to the necessary time management, commitment, self discipline etc. The OU has a great reputation within HE too.

Fintress Wed 14-Feb-18 23:32:17

It was over 85 for a first at my uni when I did my red brick degree (graduated 2009) and no resits in honours year. Can't remember what it was for OU as it was so long ago but 85 sounds about right.

CarolineForbes Wed 14-Feb-18 23:32:19

I did OU. I was accepted to a company graduate scheme along with people from Oxford and Cambridge so my personal experience is it didn’t hold me back.
Also to get a 1st at Open Uni you need 85% or more. I found out a couple of years in over 70% is a first for brick unis - I’d been really confused why I was disappointed with some of my grades and my friends who’d been to brick unis thought they were great blush

PuzzledOfPuzzledom Wed 14-Feb-18 23:33:29

Thanks sixteen, that’s great to hear the teaching is of such high quality.

Akire, I do understand that you’d need to read beyond just the textbooks, but I guess what I was really wondering about was that other unis seem to have a broader curriculum (eg a lot more literary texts included in each module) than the OU. So it’s not really about whether you’d read around the subject but about how many texts are actually part of the curriculum for a degree.

lottiegarbanzo Wed 14-Feb-18 23:34:16

ChocFudgeLover it's only the numbers used that are different. The grade standards are the same. A 'low 2:1' looks the same across other unis and the OU. Most of the tutors have day jobs at other unis, so are very tuned into that.

brogueish Wed 14-Feb-18 23:34:35

Also as a PP said, the reading list is just your starting point. You'd be expected to go way beyond that.

Fintress Wed 14-Feb-18 23:35:04

One of the issues I have found with the OU when I was looking at courses recently was the lack of support for Mac users. The software for the course I was interested in wasn't Mac compatible.

RoseWhiteTips Wed 14-Feb-18 23:36:05

Some universities are ancients, not merely red brick.

PuzzledOfPuzzledom Wed 14-Feb-18 23:46:37

Thanks everyone, it’s really good to hear some personal experiences of how OU degrees are seen by employers and other universities.

rose, do you mean the OU’s lack of entrance requirements means their degrees aren’t as challenging as other unis? I got the impression their first year curriculum starts off more gently than other unis, but I assumed it most “catch up” in subsequent years otherwise their degrees wouldn’t be viewed as equivalent to a degree from a brick uni?

PickAChew Wed 14-Feb-18 23:51:30

IME, where catch up is needed, you are expected to do it off your own bat or take a foundation course.

Mrsfs Thu 15-Feb-18 00:01:10

I have just started an OU course, Bsc Computing and IT. My first 2 modules are worth 30 credit each. My maths module eased me in for the first couple of weeks like a bit of a refresher but it soon ramps up the pace to quite complex mathematics.

My course is the complete opposite to English Literature but in my experience, the OU gives you the tools you need, but also expects you to be self sufficient in expanding your knowledge of the topic at hand.

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