I am currently about to start my last year of a BA/BSc (hons) Social science degree with the Open University. Five years and seven courses ago I made the decision to once again try for a degree as it is a requirement on most job specifications once you get past a certain level. As i couldn't afford to quit work and go back to university, the Open University was the best option for me and as you can get grant funding if it is your first degree it was a very cheap option compared to what student life today costs.
This is not a complete review of the Open University as it would be a massive document, rather this is based around the experience I have had so far and relates specifically to Social science courses.
~What is Social Science~
Social Science is a field of study concerning society and human behaviour and includes subjects such as psychology, sociology, social policy, criminology, geography, politics and economics. I choose this degree as it covers a wide area. I did want to study for a degree in psychology but thought this would have less transferable skills. I've studied how politics works, diversity and equality, the role of religion, statistics, research, ethics, budgets... the list goes on.
~Why the Open University~
For me it was the variety of choice available. I know that distance learning was my only option and from research I found the Open University excel at this and are really good in supporting their students. It also doesn't matter where you live, I've moved across the Country during my course and the University is really adaptable to this. Their course materials are great, innovate in some cases, and they do all that they can to make studying easier.
~How it works~
There are a number of courses available for each degree that you can choose from, broken down into three levels, where level one courses are the easiest and level three the most difficult. Each course as well as being in a particular level also awards a specific number of credits, either 15, 30, or 60. In order to complete a degree you need to gain 360 points where 60 credits must be from level one courses, 180 credits from level two and the remaining 120 credits from level 3. Still with me? For each course you are sent all the materials you need including text books, CD Roms, DVDs, etc, and all course material is available online (You can get your text books as pdf files which is great if you like ebboks). Each course has a certain number of assignments to complete (Called TMAs) and a final assignment or exam. Most assignments are submitted online. You are assigned a tutor for each course and some courses have regular tutorials where you get direct access to your tutor.
For my degree there are 5 courses to choose from at level one, 17 choices for level two and 12 courses available for level three. You're free to choose which courses you would like to study from the options provided as long as it makes up the credit required although some other degrees do have compulsory courses or courses that are not compatibly. The student home website does a very good job in helping you to understand how to put your degree together.
I've completed seven modules so far (With two left to go):
DD121 An Intro to Social Science Part 1 - This course has since been discontinued
DB 123 You and your money - I choose this as an alternative to An intro to Social Science Part 2 as I thought it might prove useful. The course provides a general understanding to the economy as well as how to manage your own budget and produce statistical information.
DD203 Power, dissent, equality - My favourite course to date. Provides a general understanding of politics.
AD232 Islam in the West - This course has since been discontinued
DSE 212 Exploring psychology - Provides theoretic and pratical knowledge of different aspects of psychology. Assignments include conducting an experiment which is pretty fun.
DSE 232 Applying Psychology - Probably the most difficult course I have completed even though it is only worth 15 credits. It involves a lot of online activity and is taught without direct access to a specific tutor.
DD306 Living political ideas - This course builds upon the knowledge of DD203 but allows you to understand what is politics in a more advanced way. The course takes an unusual CD ROM 'Room' approach rather than specific text books where to are left to your own learning. As it is a level 3 course a lot more is expected from you but a lot of the subject areas, such as animals in politics, violence and the role of religion, are very interesting.
I won't lie, it's not easy to complete the courses, especially as you have to motivate yourself, but the University provide a lot of support.
There is an amazing team of staff who do an excellent job of supporting you through the whole process of being a student with the university. You have tutors, religion support teams, finance advisors. Staff have gone out of their way to help me with medical difficulties during the last year (Although they keep sending me forms to apply for a disability grant which I can't apply for as I don't know what is wrong with me yet). Yes, a few tutors are not as helpful as they might be but they are the minority. Some of my tutors have been amazing. The Open University website is also brilliant. It's well designed and accessible. The student home site will become your best firend and has everything you need.
When my course is complete it will have cost me £2,721. Not bad considering it would cost me more than that for one year at university. The reason why the cost is so low is due to grant funding available. These funding options have changed since i started and as i started towards my degree before a set date the changes are not applicable to me. Tuition fees and the amount that the Open University charges have changeds considerably in the last 12 months due to government funding changes. The Open University website is very good at explaining all the options which are different based upon Country of residence, nationality, household income and level of education. There are a lot of variables that are considered and as i don't have personal experience of them i haven't listed them here so i would suggest visiting their website if you want to know more.
The OUSBA is the Open University Student Budget Account. In effect it is a loan company but one provided through the Open University and therefore has low interests and is a safe method to use. OUSBA pay your fees to the Open University and then you repay the amount back in monthly instalments during the course of the course. If you pay all of the fee before the start of the course you are changed no interest.
Here is an example from my account:
Course fee: £475
Interest rate: 5%
Interest paid: £8.98
Monthly Instalments: £61 (x7) and £56.98 (x1)
The OUSBA have its own website linked to your Open University account so that all your agreements, statements and an account summary are available. The staff are also really friendly by phone and are quick to respond to emails. I've never had a problem with them and would not have been able to do a degree without them.
Whilst you're a student with the university you can apply for an NUS extra card which gives you lots of student discounts. Even though you are technically not a full time student you can still get an ICIS (International student card) for an extra couple of pound and with this you can get a 16 - 25 railcard. I have one even though I am 32.
I could go on further though I doubt many people have read this far. In summary, I've had a great experience with the Open University even though I'll be glad when it's over. It's a shame that funding is no longer available to the same level it was a year ago and though I would recommend doing a degree this way to anyone I would investigate the changes to funding options further before starting.
I have just recently finished the DD100 Introduction to Social Science which was a recommended course for my degree path. I havent received my results yet but 3 weeks tomorrow i'll have all fingers and toes crossed.
The course started last October and ran for 8 months which seemed a long time at the beginning but it actually flew by and i can believe it is now over and i'm already looking forward to my next course in October.
DD100 is a really diverse course, the idea behind it is to give you lots of information on a variety of different topics. Some i have to say i did not like at all and some i absolutely loved. Whats funny is (not haha funny) i got higher marks on the topics i didnt like or found hard. Maybe i tried that little bit harder on those ones.
In the July before the course started i received my prep work which was just a small book that when through reading and note taking. I only skimmed through it really as i was more excited about the next set of materials that were due to arrive. The materials were sent out in different stages so i wasnt overwhelmed at all.
On my student home page there was a list of tutorials, who my tutor was and where i needed to go for these. I went to the University of Lincoln which is only about a 20 minute drive. We have roughly 1 tutorial a fortnight which was plenty on the run up to eash assignment.
The first to arrive was Block 07 and Block 01.
Block 07 is the introductory chapter which is all about the fears and fascination: the crime problem in the contemporary UK. This was the shortest block and the TMA (tutor marked assignment) was only weighted at 4% of the overall course mark. The book is 41 pages and discusses What crime is, Tales of fear and fascination, Statistics of crime, explaining crime and other things such as moral panic. The course materials are not particularly up to date as they were first published in 2000 & the second edition was 2004. The book itself is quite interesting and it covers crime in the 1730 through to 1970s and more recently. It also comes with a workbook that you use along side the course book. There are lots of activities in there to get your brain thinking. I enjoyed this subject as i'm interested in the crime aspect but i found the assignment question quite difficult. I did actually get a good mark though so i cant complain.
Block 01 was Questioning Identity: Gender, class and ethnicity. The coursebook went on to describe what is identity and how they are formed. It covered gender identities formed from childhood through to adulthood and to distinguish between masculine and feminine behaviour. It also discussed gender differences for example that by the 1990s girls were outclassing boys in education. The chapter on class covers Work incomes, what its like to be poor & inequality which includes a lot of statistics. The assignment was in 2 parts and i found the questions relatively easy but somehow this is where i scored my worse mark.
Block 02 and 03 had already arrived by then.
Block 02 was on the natural and the social: uncertainty, risk, change. The course book consisted of, Human nature, Sex, Brain size and a section on Can chimpanzees learn language? It also included the natural environment, the market economy and living with risk. The is one of the blocks that i really wasnt keen on. I'm studying psychology so this block didnt hold much interest for me. The assignment again was quite difficult but once again i scored better than i thought i would. The assignment was in 2 parts, 1 part was on a table on recycling the other about landfills. Not my cup of tea.
Block 03 was my favourite, it was on ordering lives: Family, work and welfare. The course book cover Patriarchy within the family, How power operates, Welfare and security. I really enjoyed this block and got to know everything about feminists, conservatism and Patriarchy, there was also some good theorists quoted for Michal Foucault to Max Weber. This assignment at the end of this course was done in the form of an exam. We got to choose out of 2 questions, study and write the exam within an hour at the University. For people who could not make it for whatever circumstance could sit it at home.
Block 04 was on a globalizing world: culture, economics and politics. For the assignment we had to choose one of the above and write about it drawing on the different concepts in gloablization. I chose to go with culture as i understood it much better. I have to say i tried to read the other two but they went straight over my head and i decided just to stick with culture. once again this was another block a really didnt like but to my surprise i got my highest mark which i was astounded by.
Block 05 was on Knowledge and the social sciences: theory, method and practice. Again there was 2 questions but fortunately we only had to pick one. The 3 chapters covered medicine, religion & politics and we had to choose one and link it with one or more of the theories in the course book, these were knowledge society, risk society & consumer society. I chose medicine but thats only because i struggled to find a link with any of the other subjects.
The final block 06 was a choice of 2 questions and we had to pick one and draw on 3 of the previous blocks. The first question was on social divisions and the second was on knowledge. I'd already written about knowledge in the last tma so i opted for social divisions. And thats the assignment i have recently submitted and am waiting for the results on.
Each block comes with a course book and workbook so theres plenty to help you on your way. I didnt really have alot of time to look at the workbook as i work full time and found it hard to fit everything in. The course was all over the place and some i found interesting and some not so much. Overall i enjoyed the course but i am really glad that its now over and i can move onto a course specific to Psychology.
For anyone else interested in studying at the Open University, have a look at there website www.open.ac.uk. Its definitely well worth it.
The D100 has now been discontinued but has been replaced with a more up to date version which is DD101
When i first thought about joining the OU its something I never thought id actually be able to do. I started by deciding what I wanted to do and how I go about getting there. I started looking into different university's and how I have to apply etc. It all looked very daunting and thats when I come across the Open University.
I began looking through it and really did think it must be too good to be true, you get a respected degree from the comfort of your own home? With more research I realised it was correct!
I was really drawn to the psychology degree at first (I wanted to become a forensic physchologist). I looked into the different course for Psychology and DD100 was a compulsory course, so that's the one I went with and im half way through it now.
I received my introduction pack about a month before the course was set to start and began reading through all the material, where I haven't studied in a good few years It was very useful- full of tips and tricks in how to get back studying etc.
The first TMA was TMA07 which was about crime and different crime statistic, how crime has come about etc. This one for me has been the most interesting on so far but it was only worth a tiny percentage. The one good thing about this was it was only a short TMA and the books where packed with information and I (with a little struggle) finally sent it off and managed to get a good pass.
The next TMA (TMA01) was about the formation of identities and how race and ethnicity have a say on the formation of identities. I found this essay alot harder that the first one and found the book didn't have as much relevant information. I went to one of my tutorials- which i highly recommend doing. It was nice to see some other people in the same situation and my tutor really helped with all my issues and when I got back to writing it all seemed a lot easier.
TMA02 was about selective logging and how the marktes cause it etc, i really struggled with this essay but one i calmed down and read the books properly I actually began to enjoy it.
The good thing about the open university I was able to change what degree Im aiming for, Im now going for the social policy and criminology degree.
If your thinking about doing DD100 or a social science course then definitely go for it. Don'f feel like its going to be too hard or your unable to do it because once you get going there will be no stopping you!
Also, if you have a facebook account I would recommend joining a few of the groups relevant to your course. Its good support, and its nice to see your not the only one struggling!
I am currently coming towards the end of my Social Sciences degree at The Open University. The last six years have been a hard slog as like most Open University students, I have been fitting studying around work commitments. For my degree, I have studied the obligatory introductory course DD100: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, DA204 Understanding Media Studies, D218 Social Policy: Welfare, Power and Diversity, DD201 Sociology and Society, AA310 Film and Television History, and am currently studying DD308 Making Social Worlds.
The courses have all been very thorough and detailed with lots of interesting content in the textbooks and audiovisual material provided with the course. As you move through the course levels from level 2 to level 3, the courses become noticeably more challenging. At level 2, you are expected to know quite a wide range of topics in reasonable depth, but at level 3, you are expected to know topics in much more depth, which can be very challenging.
I decided last year that it was about time I earned myself a degree. As there is no need for one in my job (graduate level training is done in-house), I settled on doing one as a personal goal, in a subject that interested me. After looking through the prospectus at the easy to use Open University website, I opted to do International Studies. This would keep me interested as I love to travel and learn about International issues.
The beauty of Open University courses is that you don't have to have a particular degree in mind when you start. I did the DD100 "Introduction to the Social Sciences" course that is also the gateway to 6 or 7 other courses.
I signed up via the website and printed out the forms for financial assistance. Financial assistance works on a sliding scale with the OU so you may be entitled to something if you earn up to £26,000 pa.
Once the course is financed, either with assistance or from your own pocket, you will be registered on the course. Materials are sent throughout the year by courier, I received 3 lots of books, DVDs and CDs. You also have a personal tutor whom you can email or speak to on the phone. Tutorials are run once a month from a local centre where you can meet your tutor and others on the course, as well as access to an internet forum specific to your course.
Assignments can be submitted online or by post except for the last assignment which is postal only. There ae examinations in level 2 and 3 modules for the end of course.
The content of the courses is well set out and the study guides pretty much tell you what the assignment is looking for, especially in the level 1 modules. My tutor was also happy to clarify points which were a little vague.
Whilst the books were a bit long-winded, the audio CDs were a great help. These usually consisted of a discussion between 3 or 4 experts from the university on the module subject. I loaded these onto my iPod, made notes then looked in the book to expand on the ideas. This probably cut my reading time down by around 60%!!
I'm waiting for my final mark now, but it should be somewhere in the mid 70s per cent. I've also signed up for my next 2 courses next year which was quick and easy to do.
Distance learning may not work for everyone as balancing a degree and full time work takes organisation. Some people also feel lonely studying this way. I on the other hand enjoy studying in my own time without other distractions and because I am doing it as a personal aim, I find it easy to stay motivated.
The Open University also has a variety of short courses to try in many subjects so you can have a taster of their course style.
I'd recommend anyone who wants to further their education in their own time to check out their site at www.open.ac.uk and see what's on offer. As mentioned above, the financial assistance may even allow you to study for free!
The interesting subjects and the level of support made it obvious that the OU want you to succeed and that makes the course all the more pleasurable, so if you have been worried in the past about going back into education - don't be!
Human genetics and Health issues sk195.
A 3-6 month course. a 10 pointer to count towards a degree, It a good course for the student that han't studied for a long while or one that just needs a refresher.
In depth and explained easily, provided with timetable and disc so not a boring long book to read.
Only £99 course fee so not to much to lay out and no special books required. So just receive course content and away you go.
I have nearly reached the mid point of my Open University course and I thought it was a good time to write about my course and hopefully inspire anyone to go back into education with the Open University. You can reserve places for courses now and I would really recommend anyone to do a course with the Open University. I was quite apprehensive when I started at the end of January this year with my DD100 course, I thought who no I will have to watch the boring television programmes and I wouldn’t enjoy it. But, I have been really surprised everyone is so helpful and your personal tutor can be a great help. You can use him/her as much or as less as you want. It’s up to you. Well my course, DD100 An introduction to Social Science, is a really good course, the work load is manageable and I have actually quite enjoyed doing it. The course is made up of six blocks: Block 1- Questioning Identity Block 2- The natural and the social Block 3- Ordering Lives Block 4- A Globalising world Block 5-Knowledge and the social sciences Block 6- end of course review. Each block takes four weeks and one week for the TMA(Tutor Marked Assignment). You can even substitute one of your essay if you feel like, then your average for the rest of your TMA will be worked out, and you will get that. The course carried 60 points that means it can go towards a degree which you need 360 points, or just take it as a Certificate in Social Sciences on it’s own. The course is perfect for anyone who want to get back into study but not with something to strenuous, it will just get back into the habit of writing essays. You do have quite a lot more tutorials for this course since it’s Level One and most students are new to Open University. They take place mid week or Saturday mornings at your regional centre. It’s optional whether you go but it can be quite helpful and it’s a good way to meet fellow studen
ts. They also have Day schools where you can spend a full day with all the student from the region, where a series of lectures or given on the topic you may be doing. There is no residential school for this course, and no computer is required. Although, I find typing my essay’s up helps. Along with text books, the course material includes video cassettes, tv programmes and recordings on cassettes. One you pay for your course fee you do not have to pay any additional fees. This course cost £400 you can pay the full sum or in monthly instalments by setting up a direct debit account. I certainly think DD100 is a very good course and I am glad I took it, it’s been quite plain sailing and I would recommend anyone to the Open University. A good way to learn from the comfort of your home and there’s a great variety of courses to chose from.
I decided to study with the Open University last year and selected the Social Science course DD100. The course was only released last year and so the material was very up-to-date and engaging. I have tried to study at evening classes before taking up the degree course, but had never succeeded in lasting out the course. I found the Open University's method of teaching to be just what I needed. It is affordable for starters (I paid about £400 for last years course in instalments, this included all course materials and tutorials).It also allowed me to be very flexible in when I chose to study, and I ended up going to every tutorial because I wanted to be there, rather than having to turn up. Because you have all the study materials already (you don't get homework set at the tutorial like and evening class) you go to the tutorials ready to get out of the class what you need to continue your next weeks worth of study, rather than purely listening to your tutor and this is rather empowering. My husband had a couple of stays in hospital last year and I still managed to hand in my assignments on time, simply because I could study at his bedside or at strange hours of the night or morning. I passed the DD100 course with 82% which I was very pleased with. I had made consistent progress in my essay writing. This year I am studying for D213 'Understanding Modern Societies' which has less tutorial support than the Level 1 courses, and so can feel a bit lonely, but all the course materials are still fantastic and I know I can speak to my tutor or counsellor every evening if I need assistance. I would recommend the Open University to anyone.
The Level 1, DD100 course 'Introduction to Social Science - understanding social change' is a well written, comprehensive course, the material supplied covers every aspect so you don't need to buy any course books and as present there is no residential school so it is ideal for anyone who cannot commit two weeks during the summer holidays. The course, which last 10 months, is split into seven blocks, the first being an introductory block focusing more on giving the student the basic study skills needed to progress with ease and it is therefore suitable for anyone who has been out of education for sometime as the pace in the beginning is quite relaxed. The blocks covered after the introductory block are (1) questioning identity, (2)The natural and the Social, (3) ordering lives, (4)a globalizing world?, (5)Knowledge and the social sciences and (6)is the end of course review. Each block is structured and comes with a workbook to help guide you through each textbook, audio and video tapes along with BBC2 programs. Their are 7 TMA's (assessments) and the final one is taken under exam conditions although this is more to prepare you for future study and counts towards only a small percentage of your overall mark. When you recieve your first pack of material you will also get a timetable showing what you should be working on that week, this makes it easy to stay up to date although you do need some self discpline to stick to it. You should allow 16 hours a week for this course. I intend to complete a degree in Social Science and upon completion this course will give me 60 points towards my degree although DD100 would be equally well suited to someone who was just interested in the Social Sciences and once completed the student does gain a certificate in social science. As with all OU courses finacial assistance is available to those on low incomes and benefits and it is worth while applying for these if you think you
may qualify, when you register your interest in a course also request an application to apply for a finacial award. The OU has a great website and you can enroll online, many of the tutors are also 'net wise' and are happy to talk to students via email. I had originally started a conventional HND via college but had to drop out, the OU is my second chance and in comparision to college I prefer the OU, the content is more current and unlike a traditional college approach where social science is broken down into subjects (sociology, politics, psychology, economics, geography, history) the Ou approach it as one subject making it easier to relate to and understand.