10 years of Studying with the Open University


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Sesame magazine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I realised a few days ago that this year marks my 10th year of studying with the Open University but I have rarely mentioned anything about my studies on my blog. Today I will rectify that by sharing my learning journey with you…

I began studying with the Open University back in 2002. At the time of signing up for my first course I was working at the Forensic Science Service. The idea being that I would study for a degree in Science alongside my job so that eventually I could progress from my administrative laboratory assistant position to becoming a Forensic Scientist myself.

I chose to start gently with a 10 point level 1 Science course – S195 Introduction to the Human Genome.

By the time my course started I had actually had to leave my job due to difficulties with my husband’s illness and my son’s schooling, but I decided to continue with the course anyway, and I passed.

I stepped up a notch after that taking a full level 1 Science course, my aim was still to get that Science degree and hopefully return to forensics at some point in the future. In the meantime doing 60 credits on my S103  Discovering Science course kept me occupied between dealing with my caring responsibilities in 2003. I passed with flying colours, achieving a Certificate in Natural Sciences and the designatory letters after my name ‘Cert Nat Sci (Open)

Realising that the majority of ‘named’ degrees in Science subjects with the Open University would require me to attend several residential courses led me to a change of direction. My home life meant residentials were not an option for me, so I chose to work towards a BSc Honours in Health and Social Care instead. So, in 2004 I started K100 Understanding Health and Social Care a required course for this degree, but I was a glutton for punishment already one 60 credit course at level 1 was not enough for me, so I also studied K202 Care, Welfare and Community a 60 credit level 2 course in 2004 as well. Completing K100 gave me a Certificate in Health and Social Care, Cert H&SC (Open).I achieved a Grade 3 pass in K202.

Not slacking at all I went straight on to study 140 credits in 2005, 120 credits is equivalent to full-time study! My courses in 2005 were:

  • Level 1 10 credits S191 Food and Health a Chemical Story
  • Level 2 10 credits S293 The Fats of Life
  • Level 2 60 credits U205 Health and Disease
  • Level 2 30 credits K260 Death and Dying
  • Level 2 30 credits Human Biology

Upon completing these courses I received a Diploma in Health and Social Care, Dip H&SC (open).

Doing so many courses at once with the added difficulties at home was hard work so in 2006 I decided to take it a bit easier and do just 60 credits.  SD226 Biological Psychology – exploring the brain saw me achieve my first distinction for a course, Level 2 30 credits. And S320 Infectious Diseases was my first Level 3 course.

I repeated the 60 credits study pattern in 2007 completing S250 Science in Context, 30 credits at level 2 and 30 credits at level 3 with SD329 Signals and Perception – the science of the senses, which was the hardest course I had done to date!

I don’t know what came over me in 2008 but again I jumped in with another 160 credits…

  • Level 1 10 credits S187 Elements of Forensic Science
  • Level 1 30 credits DB123 You and Your money- personal Finance in context (I was gaining interest in Business courses, intending to do more after this one – complete change of direction!)
  • Level 3 60 credits U316 Environmental Science (another complete change of direction, totally unrelated to anything else I was doing!?)
  • Level 3 60 credits K311 Promoting Public Health (for which I achieved a Certificate in Promoting Public Health, Cert PPH (Open))

2009 was due to be the year I completed the final courses for my BSc Hons Health and Social Care. But my life changed dramatically this year and I had to drop out of all of the courses I had signed up for. Starting work again, then my husband deteriorating and pushing me into mental illness myself. I ended up not gaining any additional credits in 2009 and wasn’t sure when I would be able to return to my studies after my husband passed away and I continued to have my own mental health problems. I realised however that I had actually already gained enough credits to take an un-named BSc Hons so that all my hard work had not gone to waste because the BSc Hons Health and Social care degree I was working towards was due to be withdrawn and needed to be completed by 2011, something I did not know at this point if I would be able to manage.  As result, I applied my credits to the un-named BSc and gained an upper second class honours. I had my graduation ceremony in 2010, although my official completion date of my 2.1 BSc Hons (Open) was 2008.

In 2010 after several failed attempts during 2009 to return to my studies I finally got back into it again, taking it slowly with a couple of level 1 10 credit courses, S171 Empire of the Microbes and S155 Scientific Investigations that combined with some of my earlier courses enabled me to achieve a Certificate in Higher Education (Open), Cert HE (Open) and count towards a Certificate in Contemporary Science, which I still need to do one more 10 credit level 1 Science course to complete.

Studying with the Open University is not easy, you need to be very self-motivated to get through all the materials at home, alone. There is support with your tutor, online forums and some face-to-face tutorials depending on the course, but mainly it is down to you to work through the material and complete your assignments in time for the deadlines. Self-discipline is vital to succeeding with home study!

In 2011 I continued to struggle with my mental health but to just take some time to relax I studied T189 Digital Photography – creating and sharing better images for fun and to improve my photography skills. It was the first time I had done a course without consideration of a qualification.

Looking back over my studies I discovered that I would only need to do 90 credits at level 3 to enable me to gain another BSc Hons or BA Hons depending on my choice of courses. With that in mind I enrolled for DD308 – Making Social Worlds a level 3 60 credit course in Sociology which I am due to complete in June this year. I will then only have 30 credits left to study for another degree, and a 10 credit level 1 science course for that other certificate.

So, that is where I am now, after 10 years studying with the Open University I have gained:

  • 4 University Certificates
  • 1 University Diploma
  • A 2.1 BSc Hons
  • and a total of 640 credits!

When I complete my current course that will be 700 credits!

Now, if only I could decide which course to do for that last 30 credits… then what am I going to do after?

I’m addicted to studying with the Open University and new courses are released every year!

Somehow I don’t think my time with the OU will be coming to and end anytime soon…

For students outside the UK and Ireland there is a new OU website where you can find out more about becoming a student and start your next step in education –  http://www.openuniversity.edu/

Have you studied with the OU? What courses have you done?

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13 comments on “10 years of Studying with the Open University

  1. I HAD to check this out because it brought back some memories…. As a child I went with my British mother back to England each summer. This was in the day of only 3 TV channels (quite and adjustment from US TV). Two were BBC and they didn’t even broadcast all day. BBC 2 often had Open University on. I would try to watch but it was always sooooo over my head. What a concept, really, though at a time before on-line classes were available. To be able to go to school at home via your TV.

    Anyway, congratulations to you and pushing for that continued education. Awesome!

    • haha, I remember those programs from when I was a kid too! I used to love watching them if I was off school ill – maybe they are why I ended up studying with the OU!?

  2. that’s fantastic sharon. you can be so proud of yourself. i have done a couple of OU courses – personality, development and learning; and understanding social sciences but i have so little awake and motivated time and i let myself down on the exams that i am concentrating on my creative writing now. i tried an openings course, understanding children, last summer and couldn’t do the assessment. i think my brain is atrophying.

  3. Wow! Well done. Many years ago a did a management diploma by a similar system in NZ and struggled to apply myself so when I decided to do my degree (in social work and sociology) I chose the traditional trek every morning to campus. I really struggled to do that but know I would have struggled more if I had needed to rely solely on my own motivation. I don’t think there is a chance I would have finished. So well done!!! 🙂

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