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Open University (general questions & history)

(17 Posts)
SophieLion Wed 25-Jan-17 19:26:03

I am considering doing BA history part-time with the OU. I posted a while back on another thread but think the OP on that thread must be too busy studying now to be Mumsnetting! (Hope it's going well if you read this.)

I have a few questions about the OU. Is the academic year divided into terms? For a part-time BA, roughly how many hours a week do you study (website says 17/18 hours but I want to know if this is realistic)? Is it a complete struggle to fit in studying with children or manageable? Are there exams every year? Term?

Regarding the history BA, the first Year looks quite general and not as history related as I would have liked. Has anyone done the first Year and can advise?

Is all the study done whenever you like or do you have to attend online tutorials at set times?

Regarding flexibility, I read I can opt out for a year and then start up again a year later. Can the same be done mid-year? Stopping for a few months/modules and then starting again? Not sure if I want to commit myself to 6 years of study at the moment.

Does anyone have experience of credit transfer (CAT points?) with the OU?

Any information you can give me is most appreciated. Thank you

FaFoutis Wed 25-Jan-17 19:38:45

For most modules the academic year is October to June, only level 1 modules also run Feb to October. No terms as such.

Number of hours worked varies, in a non-assignment week it will be lower than 17 hours (often much lower), in an assignment week you might work more hours. Exams only at the end of modules - so one in June for most modules. Lots of students have FT jobs and children, they manage.

Credit transfer is possible, you could miss out the first year if you have an equivalent.

Yes you can stop and start.

Study when you like, choose which tutorials you attend. Some are face to face, some online. Some bigger day schools on Saturdays.

First year is humanities, but has a fair amount of history. It is aimed at getting study and writing skills up and giving you a broad basis. (I'm a historian and I did a year of humanities as an undergraduate, it has given me a wider outlook in research ever since.)

FaFoutis Wed 25-Jan-17 19:46:09

Forgot to add - assignment deadlines are fixed, and there's no exam on the first module (AA100) - it's an essay instead.

Second year has two new history modules that look very good. A223 and A225.

SophieLion Wed 25-Jan-17 20:24:12

Thanks for responding FaFoutis. I'll have another look at the OU site now I have that info from you and see if I can get things clearer in my head.

I'm not in the UK so face to face tutorials aren't really an option for me. Suspect my degree and post-grad studies were too long ago now to be transferred (think I read there was a time limit). I have some CAT points from recent courses (but 20 or 30 at the most) so not sure how far that will get me in terms of exemptions!

I appreciate that people work FT, have children and do degrees. It just seems daunting for me right now...especially the length of the BA course. I've been considering a masters as it's shorter but I don't feel knowledgable enough in history to go straight to the MA...

SophieLion Wed 25-Jan-17 21:11:48

Also: does anyone have any experience of distance studying with Royal Holloway (uni of London)?
The courses for history look really interesting.

FaFoutis Thu 26-Jan-17 11:43:41

It is daunting Sophie, I'm about to do it myself and I'm worried about coping with it. I'm starting an MA (creative writing)with the OU. I have seen plenty of students cope with children, FT job and studies so I know it can be done.

SophieLion Thu 26-Jan-17 12:43:12

Good luck FaFoutis! I'm sure it will all seem more manageable once you get into the swing of things (I should take some of my own advice!).

So is this MA the first time you will study with the OU? You seem very knowledgeable

Akire Thu 26-Jan-17 12:48:16

I found the hours about right though obviously if it's topic you have done before it will take far less than if you spend half of it trying get grips with the basic.

I did a degree whilst working full time but no kids. You do need to be strict with putting time aside every week. Miss a week and plan to catch up at your peril! Exams at end of course and essays will be on deadlines but you get all those before you start your course. So good that if you have one due in May and you are going away half term you can work ahead and get it done first. Because you can work at own pace. I wasn't able to get to hardly any tutorials it is possible especially now there is much more online support forums than back in olden days!

MusterTheRohirim Thu 26-Jan-17 12:56:46

It is really flexible. The text books are divided up to generally be a chapter a week, then you do an assignment after about 4 or 5 weeks of study (you get all the dates, a study calendar and assignment questions at the beginning so you know what to expect) but as long as you meet the assignment deadlines, if you have a really busy week followed by a quieter one, you can miss a week then catch up the following week by doing 2 chapters.

I did English and loved it. If you want a break, you just don't register for a module next 'year', have a year off, then register on the next one. You do need to finish the module (Oct to June) you're on though.

FaFoutis Thu 26-Jan-17 12:57:22

I do some tutoring for the OU on their History modules. The students are lovely.
It's my first time as a student at the OU though. The thing I worry about most is that I won't have enough time to be a perfectionist about my work. That is going to be painful but probably a good lesson for me.

shouldwestayorshouldwego Thu 26-Jan-17 13:07:26

If it has been a while then I recommend trying to at least do one level 1 module even if you have credits as the marks don't count, you just need to pass. You will learn lots of important study skills at level one. Online tutorials generally are at fixed times, however you will get the timetable in Sept/ Oct. There will probably around 7 or 8 tutorials over the year. You don't have to attend any of them but many students find that it helps.

SophieLion Fri 27-Jan-17 11:35:36

Thank you for the replies.

So to recap (please correct me if I'm wrong):
Weekly hours of part-time study is around 17 hours (give or take and depending on assignments and previous knowledge)
Tutorials are about 7/8 times a year and attendance is beneficial but not essential.
A course is kind of divided into textbook chapters - aim for do 1 chapter a week and can play catch-up if necessary.
Exams usually in June and you can't take a break from the degree mid-course. Can you do the course one year but defer the exam for the following year?

Noted that the first year of history BA is useful but as so many years of study seems daunting right now, if i can exempt myself from any of it then I would be quite happy!

Are there any online forums for discussions on topics? With the online history course i am doing now, we have one unit per week. There is an introduction online, we are given reading (or podcasts to listen to) and then there are online forums where we discuss questions set by the tutor. Does the OU have anything like this?

Has any of you experience of studying online with a university other than the OU?

SophieLion Fri 27-Jan-17 11:37:24

To clarify: with my online course, each week (unit) we have an intro online, reading material and discussion forums specifically for the topic of that week.

SophieLion Mon 30-Jan-17 19:51:57



HappyHammer Mon 18-Jun-18 20:34:39

Hi Sophie,

I didn't realise that this thread was over a year old. Are you still interested in studying history with the OU?

I studied AA100 last year and have just completed the following module, A105 this academic year. I sat my exam last Monday. The first two modules are not exclusively history, they cover all of the arts subjects. I have found both modules fascinating, challenging and very rewarding.

Just as a bit of background, I am married, the father of four children (aged 10 - 17), I work full time and started my degree at the age of 54.

I wish that I had made that commitment years ago, I have enjoyed every moment of it, well nearly every moment!
I hope that you receive this post. You still have time to enrol this year but if you decide not to, I would recommend going online and doing a couple of related OpenLearn modules that are available at the OU website. They may well whet your appetite and they take approximatly 16 hours to complete and are entirely at your own pace.

I will be happy to answer any questions that you may have.

SophieLion Thu 21-Jun-18 14:33:48

Hi Steve,
Thanks for the message. I've decided not to return to studying now. I did a couple of history courses online with Oxford uni which were fascinating but it was just too much studying for me to cope with at the moment. They said I should spend an average of 10 hours a week but was going well over that and I don't want to commit to a full degree without being able to devote all the time I want to.
It's great it's working out for you and I wish you all the best.
Did you consider an online degree anyway else? I recall that the Royal Holloway also offers BA history online.

SophieLion Thu 21-Jun-18 14:34:21

anywhere (not anyway!)

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