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To ask about OU courses

65 replies

MrsSocks · 10/07/2015 23:09

I hope you don't mind me picking your brains. I am looking at starting an OU degree. (Brief educational history, top GCSE results, average A levels in biology, sports studies and general studies and ASs in sociology and English lit. Started a sport science degree at 18yrs but left (bored) after 6 months. Have since worked the healthcare sector and website management until maternity with DS1, 4yrs)

I'm 28. Ideally, I would like to complete an OU degree over 3 years while still at home with DD1. Following that, a PGCE with the aim to teach at primary level.

What do I do a degree in? Am I best sticking to a curriculum base subject? Has anyone any experience of their 'open degree'? Would it be acceptable before a PGCE?

Any help would be much appreciated

OP posts:

ChuffinAda · 10/07/2015 23:15

Do one of their level 1 introduction courses to narrow down a field of interest then specialise in that field as you progress through the courses knowing you always have the open degree as an option


chicaguapa · 10/07/2015 23:19

I agree. Start with a level 1 course which are broader and you'll get an idea of what you want to focus on later on.


Headofthehive55 · 10/07/2015 23:21

I have done several of their courses and found them to be excellent. I felt their quality far surpassed the more normal unis I went to ( and those were good ones! ) so good luck!

Do what you enjoy. They used to like you to have a degree in a national curriculum subject but don't know if that's still true.


DisappointedOne · 10/07/2015 23:22

I'm doing an open degree at the moment and am loving it.


soloula · 10/07/2015 23:34

I completed a history degree with the OU a couple of years ago while pregnant with DD. OU degrees are highly regarded by employers and academic institutions as people appreciate that those who've undertaken an OU degree tend to have juggled quite a few things to complete it. Time management is key and this is a really valued skills.

Many people do an open degree in a specific discipline to avoid some of the less interesting compulsory courses. At the same time some just do a complete mix of subjects to get the right amount of credits. It might be worth investigating what the institution you're applying to for your pgde likes in terms of subject mix. Maybe speak to a careers advisor? The OU are good at advising on what pathways to study too.

If you're doing a named degree then a level 1 course is usually the best place to start. Most degrees now have a compulsory level 1 course anyway. It's a good way to get you used to the habits needed to stand you in good stead for the rest of the degree. If you decide to do an open degree I'm not sure if you need to do a level 1.

It's entirely possible to finish your degree in three years although it will be hard going as you'll need to double up some classes. Depending on the pathway you choose this might not be feasible e.g. If you did a language then you'd need to do one course after the other. There's also the option of credit transfer if you have previous study elsewhere - this could cut the number of credits you need and therefore cut the time you need to study.


notquitehuman · 10/07/2015 23:41

Could you do part time at your local uni? You could do a bachelors in primary education and go straight into teaching, if that's definitely the career you want. I think there's also more financial support available such as childcare, and going to uni is fun!


catsrus · 10/07/2015 23:48

Please don't try and do the degree in three years - the highest failure rate the OU has is in people doing more than one module at a time. The programme of study is designed to be taken part time so assignments will often be due in at the same time and your end of module assessments (EMA) will certainly clash. It would be frustrating to fail a module at the final hurdle because you weren't able to get the EMA in for both modules you were doing! Modules build on each other and in many subjects there's a sensible order to take them in because the knowledge and skills in one will feed into the other.

ring and speak to an advisor :-) oh and I did an open degree, gives you a lot more flexibility, I loved it Grin


SingingSamosa · 10/07/2015 23:48

It's very doubtful that you will be able to complete a degree with the OU in three years. That's a full time degree. The OU are geared towards part-time degrees. They often won't let you do 120 points in one go (which would be 2 x 60 point modules). I've just completed my second degree with them and have been doing one module a year (60 points each) and have struggled to fit it in with having my children at home, chronic illness etc.

Also, the OU way of grading each module is (in my opinion) quite unfair. You do a number of tutor-marked assingments (TMAs) throughout the module and the average of these becomes your overall continuous assessment score (OCAS). Then you do either an exam or and end of module assignment. The mark you get for this is your overall examinable score (OES). In order to get a pass 4 for the module, you need to have achieved 40-54% in BOTH OCAS and OES. It's not an average of the two. To get a pass 3 it needs to be 55-69% in both sections, pass 2 is 70-84% and a distinction is 85%+. If one of the OES or OCAS scores is one or two grades lower than the other then you get the lower of the two score as your overall module pass.

I hope I haven't blinded you with science!


WhoKnowsWhereTheTimeGoes · 10/07/2015 23:51

I've just finished year 1 of the Open degree, studying biological and social sciences. Really enjoying it so far, but I'm doing it purely for interest as I am not planning to change career (although the biological sciences are relevant to it).

I think you have to do level 1 over a minimum of 2 years? People were moaning about it on the FB group for my last module.


catsrus · 10/07/2015 23:58

I actually think the OU marking is fair singing - you basically have to achieve the same level in both parts of the assessment, the continuous assessment and the exam. When I did my degree all modules had exams - it was explained to me that the OU system had evolved to ensure no-one could cheat by getting someone else to do their assignments as they had to sit the exam themselves. A 100% score in assignments wouldn't benefit anyone if they only scored 50% in the exam.

Of course now there are EMAs for a lot of modules not exams, so they rely more on anti-plagiarism software to catch potential cheating.


mugglingalong · 11/07/2015 00:00

I would say don't underestimate the time that it will take to complete the studying. If you plan to complete in three years then it is probably worth starting two modules in yr1 (although they will encourage you to just do one). Generally the first year is just pass/fail, so as long as you get over 40% you will be fine - it doesn't count towards your final grade. I would recommend taking the level 3 modules over two years to try to get higher marks. L3 counts more towards your final grade than level 2. If you start on two 60 point modules and the work is too much then it is fairly easy to defer, but you need to recognise as soon as possible and start discussing options with the student support team. Some modules (especially at level 1) have an Oct and a Feb presentation so that way your module will overlap but might be a little less pressure. Most modules seem to start off at a fairly moderate pace but then gets much quicker towards the end. There might be two months between some of the early assignment deadlines but only 2-3 weeks at the end. Try to get ahead of the study programme if you can so you have some slack for school holidays etc. I would also suggest looking at the TMA (assignment) before you start your reading so that you know what you are looking out for when reading.

In terms of the subject choice you would probably be best to talk to the place you hope to do pgce as others have said. You need to be aware that for some modules you need to have completed a previous module. The student advisors will be able to talk through your options. Good luck.


catsrus · 11/07/2015 00:00

If you want to be a primary school teacher OP then the Open degree will suit you very well - you can do a wide range of modules that would support primary teaching.


Becca19962014 · 11/07/2015 00:02

An OU degree can be done in three years BUT it's extremely hard to do. I know someone who did it in three years when I was a tutor and they did nothing else at all with their time and struggled loads (no family or work commitments at all and lived with parents who did everything for them). It's really really hard to do it like that and like someone else has said most people fail.

They do have a good education department, so you may be able to combine subjects with that. In the past you could get other interim qualifications on the way to a degree so a certificate and a diploma and then a degree but I don't know if they still do that - it was a long time ago I worked for them.

I know there are various events around the country where you can go and ask for advice in person to find one near you look here


AmyGDalae · 11/07/2015 00:31

I did my (named) undergraduate degree with the OU.

Going a bit against what others have advised here, I did complete it in three years and I never took any Level 1 courses (making up the needed credits with extra Level 2 modules - though I think the Level 1 ones have been made compulsory now). I worked a full-time job throughout in addition to two part-time (3-5hrs p/w each) jobs and voluntary work (5hrs a week). It was no problem and I did not feel that my social life was affected. BUT no kids... still think 3 years is completely doable with good time management if you have kids (minus full-time work obvs).

The OU degree is the best thing I ever did. It completely changed my life. I had pretty crappy secondary school results and no further qualifications and was working in a job I hated (and had been doing shitty jobs for years). I was offered a job I absolutely loved towards the end of my final year, then moved to my current role a year later (so just after graduation - with nearly a £15000 pay increase from original full-time job I was doing whilst studying) where I have been paid! to do my MSc during work hours (at a RG uni) and enjoy every day and every opportunity I have had within my role.

And now I am about to start medical school.

The OU are fantastic. Definitely go for it!


Melonfool · 11/07/2015 00:45

Three years is challenging with kids i think - I did my OU law degree in 7 years (one year off for good behaviour in the middle), while working mostly full time.

It's hard work. I did an extra course at one point which overlapped and ended up with clashing deadlines and two important assignments due the same date - I nearly imploded with stress (though I was also working in a stressy job, selling my house, moving in with dp for the first time and buying a house too).

But they are so good and so well regarded that yes, if you like the idea, go for it. Start with Level 1 and see how you get on.

I never in my head told myself I was doing a degree. I was doing "a year's OU course", that way it wasn't too scary and I didn't need to panic at the years stretching ahead.

I never thought 'd do it. I did really badly at school.

But now you may call me Melonfool LLB First Class Honours (Open) Smile


LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett · 11/07/2015 00:53

OU is brilliant. No question. However, it isn't cheap any more - although you can get an interest free loan for your fees - so it's worth having a good look round to see what else is available locally. As a pp said, going to actual Uni is fun and there are often crèche/childcare options, and unis are getting ever more creative about how they attract non-traditional students.

But if you do decide to go with OU, you won't regret it! It's brilliant.


totallybewildered · 11/07/2015 00:58

The Ou are brilliant, but 3 years is full time for a degree, and the OU does not really cater for that. You would be better off applying to a local university.


MrsSocks · 11/07/2015 01:36

Thanks everyone! Lots to think about Smile

OP posts:

monkeysox · 11/07/2015 07:32

Took me 7 years , no kids at the time.

For primary teaching your degree needs to be over half in a primary national curriculum subject .

Also try to get in school experience such as student associates scheme in preparation for when you apply for initial teacher training .

Good luck


Headofthehive55 · 11/07/2015 07:37

I found that the distance learning suited me, no need for travel time which meant I had more time to spend on study. I didn't find actual uni fun, but felt there was lots of wasted time. It depends what suits you. I don't think doing it in three years would be too much: I did 60 credits easily per year without my family noticing. I also work and have quite a large family so it's do able. Try 60 credits the first year, you can see how you go!


eyebags63 · 11/07/2015 09:03

Full time will be 120 points per year. The courses are usually broken down into 30 or 60 point units, so you will be studying 2 - 4 different topics in one year.

I find doing 60 points challenging, working part-time with no other commitments. I achieve high grades and good feedback yet I find much of the content dull with endless amounts of reading to do.

It is also very expensive, full time is £5400 per year. For that you get a book pack, online content and the occasional day school which will be scheduled at at time you can't attend anyway.


DisappointedOne · 11/07/2015 09:06

I had full credit for level one so went straight onto level 2. As such it will take me 4 years to get my degree (part time). Your previous study might get you off the level 1 stuff.


Ohboys · 11/07/2015 09:11

I'm now teaching full time after doing an 'open' degree and love it. I started at about your age while working and bringing up children. It took me longer than 3 years and was tough but I loved it and got so much out of it: learning and knowledge, confidence, skills, friendships etc. I had no A levels because I left school at 16 so did the Science Foundation and, although I stuck to maths and science all the way through, I just chose modules that interested me. The final degree was a BSc Open. Then I did my PGCE at Homerton. OU 'open' degrees definitely have value. Go for it!


BeyondTheWall · 11/07/2015 09:15

I've just done a 3/4 year at level 2 (90 points), i am severely ill and managed to pass (and not a scrape pass either) all of the modules

It is entirely possible to do more than one module at a time


Seffina · 11/07/2015 09:17

I am an OU student but I keep reading this thread title as 'OU corpses' Grin Trying to imagine that arriving through the post!

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