Monday, 25 March 2013

Goodbye Derby Uni, Hello Open University

Life I am sure you will agree has the habit of throwing proverbial spanners in the works at regular intervals. As an unfortunate consequence, one's hopes and dreams can be thrown asunder. But where there's a will there is invariably a way.

My last post to this horribly neglected blog celebrated my unconditional place at Derby University to study for a BSc in Geology. That place was deferred until September 2013, but it is proving virtually impossible to get into a position where I can realistically take up that place.

So if I can't get to Uni, the next best thing is to bring the Uni to me. So welcome back Open University! I've done several courses at the OU already between 2008-10 so know what it's all about and my previous study should count towards an OU degree.

Ah now, this is where it becomes a bit more complicated. Since finishing the short 10 credit module on Volcanoes, Earthquakes and Tsunamis in 2010, things have changed somewhat, not just at the OU but in higher education overall. Uni fees have shot through the roof with funding being provided by huge loans through Student Finance England. While the ultimate debt amassed may seem huge on completion of the course, the debt is paid back slowly and only if one is actually working. In fact any balance outstanding after 30 years will be written off.

The good thing is that the course finance rules can now be applied to part-time study and thus study with the Open University becomes more of a viable option. This means I can now fund my study the same way as I would've done if I had gone to Derby Uni, but be able to take a lot longer to complete my degree. To qualify I must be studying a course at a higher level than I have ever studied previously and complete a minimum of 30 credits per year, both of which sit quite nicely.

So what of the course? Named degrees are pretty much a thing of the past now at the OU. I could aim for a BSc in Natural Sciences and give it either a Geology or Astronomy emphasis. The downside of this is that my choice of modules is a bit more regulated, so after much deliberation, I have opted to study for an Open Degree. This allows me to study pretty much whatever I like. The degree will then become either Ba or BSc, depending on the mix of modules that I choose to do. My degree will include science modules exclusively, so will be a BSc. This seems perfect for someone like me who wants to study for the pleasure vof learning rather than have a specific career path in mind.

Some changes have made the timing and planning of modules things a little awkward though. Alas, my 10 credit short science modules already completed will not count towards my Open Degree, but the 60 credit Science Foundation course definitely will. That leaves a further 60 credits needed for me to complete Level One.
S141: Investigative and mathematical skills in science will do for starters as it is the recommended follow-up to S104 and covers some essential maths that will help the Astronomy modules at Level 2. Then I hope to do
S142: Topics in Science. The problem however, is that S141 starts in Oct 2013 and S142 starts in Feb 2014. If I do them in that order it means a 5 month overlap when things might get a bit busy. Or, I do S142 first and S141 second, giving no overlap but about 17 months continuous study and a wait until Feb. 2014 to get started at all. I really want to get Level 1 finished ASAP so might have to steel myself for some serous study. At least these two don't include examinations so may be do-able, but I will wait until the OU 'Module Choice Adviser' phones me back in a day or two to advise.

So it should all make for an exciting era of study and rather more regular blogs here at the new look 'Holey Schist'.

See you soon,