My OU Studies – One Month In

My Open University course officially started last weekend. I am now a student again.

I’m studying module A200, ‘Exploring history: medieval to modern 1400-1900’, a level 2 course as part of my degree. I love history, so I’m hoping that my passion for the subject will see me through as I deal with the challenges of studying it whilst balancing and juggling everything else around me.

So how’s it going so far?

I actually started just after Boo went back to school at the beginning of September. That’s the benefit of studying flexibly like this, as I knew that I’d need a head start. The guidelines for part time study like this suggest around 16 hours work a week. Well, truth be told, I don’t have 16 hours a week free right now. I have Little Man at home full time, this blog and my home and family. My mum has kindly offered to have Little Man for one day a week for me until the end of the year (I’m hoping he’ll be ready to start at nursery for a couple of days from January), so at the moment, my study time is all crammed into those 5 hours or so that I have between drop offs while Boo’s at school, hence the need for a head start as it’ll take me longer than the weeks allotted to cover each section. It’s a challenge!

Fortunately, I am thoroughly enjoying the content. So far I’ve covered subjects such as The Black Death, Henry V’s success at Agincourt and beyond, Joan of Arc and the Wars of the Roses, to give you a feel for the period that I’ve been working on. I’m conscious of not simply immersing myself in the history and the chronology, as it’s very much about the skills of becoming academic historians, so studying the primary and secondary sources available to build our own accounts. It takes me right back to my History GCSE, let alone ‘A’level, as I distinctly remember covering source analysis then, and that was over twenty years ago now. I’m so relieved that I have a good memory!

I was a little concerned prior to commencing that the actual process of studying might initially elude me having not done it for so long. I completed my first two OU modules 15 years ago now, and though I did study for some professional qualifications around a decade ago, it really wasn’t the same. I questioned my ability to even be able to note take, but it’s funny how it all comes flooding back once you get going, very reassuring.

So having worked my way through the first block, I’m now at the point of starting on my first assignment, all focused around understanding primary sources in the context of the times I’ve been studying. The worry for me was that I’ve been working away for a month, all alone aside from dipping into the module forums occasionally to see what people are chatting about there, so am I on the right track? I think that’s where the tutorials come in.

OU studying

It was my first tutorial on Saturday, fortunately just in Birmingham city centre, so an easy minute journey for me.

There were just 9 of us there, and I understand there are 20 of us assigned to work with our tutor. It felt relaxed and informal, and it was good to chat through some of the areas I’ve been covering with others and work on some practical activities together. And to my relief, it seems that I do know what I’m doing, as I felt quite comfortable there, phew!

Onwards I go then. I’m happy that I made the decision to go ahead with it after I wavered. Wish me luck with my first assignment…..

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18 thoughts on “My OU Studies – One Month In”

  1. Stay with it, the OU changed my life. It is hard work but my word when you have finished you WILL be a different, more confident person and have more life options. I did my BA and MA with the OU but did my PhD elsewhere and regretted it. The OU is a proper university and you will get a highly respected degree. Best of luck and never give up, it is worth it!

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    Thanks so much for this Jocelyn. I am having a similar dilemma to yours at the moment. I posted about it this morning and it was only after I’d written it & published it (and then been filled with self-doubt about having put it out there) that I remembered the dilemma you’d had and how you’d opened it up for discussion too. Really glad you made the choice you did and that it’s turned out to be the right one. x

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      Thank you, seems to all be going well so far – ask me at exam revision time and I may give a different answer! I’ve popped over to see your dilemma, too, hope you make a decision that you’re comfortable with x

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    I started my module last week as well – I am trying to be good and get ahead of it now because I know coming up to Christmas it is going to be a nightmare to stay on top of! Well done for being a month in advance – I wish I had thought of that! I hope your first TMA goes well! xx

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    it sounds so fascinating! so glad it you are finding a way to make it work, and very best of luck with your first assignment. thanks also for your kind comments on my recent post, it was very much appreciated xx

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    I’m glad you’re enjoying it so far! I did a history degree, and I loved being able to pick and choose my different modules. I can see that having to work independently would be challenging, although I remember uni being a lot like this anyway. x

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      Yes, I’m happy working this way, it’s just fitting it around everything else that’s a challenge! Ah well, nice to be busy! x

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    I’m loving being able to read about other people’s journeys! I started recording mine over on my youtube channel on friday, it’s really exciting doing something new and I give loads of luck and best wishes to you over completing your assignment!!
    I’ve literally just sent over my draft to my tutor.. fingers crossed!!

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    Well done you! It sounds like you are doing brilliantly! I’m not one for History but it sounds like the sort of thing my fella loves!
    Good luck with your first assignment…

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      Thanks! I am enjoying it, and it is a subject that I love. Thank you, will start drafting it this week, so hope it’s easy enough!

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    Hi Jocelyn, returning to studying must have been daunting, but knowing now that you are doing just fine must be great feeling. Having to fit sixteen hours into five (and maybe the odd hour here and there) would have me banging my head against a wall (or deep breathing whilst hugging a tree, barefooted).

    I wish you luck for all your assignments, but I don’t think luck will have much to do with it. Maybe blood sweat and tears!


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