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Programs Open University

  1. Apr 7, 2017 #1

    Strange question but here goes

    I am thinking of doing the Open University degree in Physics or Maths/Physics and wondered if anyone had done it and had any thoughts

    By way of background I actually did physics undergrad degree over 25 years ago (gosh!) here in the UK. But like a lot of people, I got bored with physics and then went into finance here in the UK. And totally forgot about physics. However, in the last few years, I have got very interested in it again.

    In fact have been steadily working my way through Prof Susskinds Theoretical Min series - which are refreshing, unique and perfectly aimed at me (ie someone with rusty physics but someone who knows what what differential eqns are etc.)

    I hadn't thought about physics for 25 years but it came back to me after a few hours/weeks of studying. It is startling how much of ones knowledge just sits there in one's mental hard drive - ready to be taken out and reused. You forget the details, but the principles are still there. In fact, I know understand the bits of physics I have studied now better than when I was a (lazy!) under- grad

    Even though there are lots of physics resources out there - they are unstructured for an interested amateur like me. Some are too complicated, some are too easy and some don't have a logical structure that a university degree offers (ie at uni - they teach you the easy stuff first, then the not so easy stuff, making sure you study in logical order)

    So for me - the degree would purely be a hobby ( I am not going to quit work/ have no intention of doing PhD/ or of being a fulltime physicist) It is purely to keep my mind active and sharp.

    What I wanted to know:

    - Is the course well structured
    - Is the material interesting
    - Teaching methods actually update / fresh
    - The time commitment involved?

    Appreciate any thoughts
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 12, 2017 #2
    Thanks for the thread! This is an automated courtesy bump. Sorry you aren't generating responses at the moment. Do you have any further information, come to any new conclusions or is it possible to reword the post? The more details the better.
  4. Apr 22, 2017 #3
    I haven't done a degree with the OU, but I'm studying two standalone modules (MST326 and MST210). Previous to this I have a masters degree in chemical engineering and another one in membrane engineering.

    I think the courses are excellent. Compared to courses on my other degrees, often put together by a researcher who is mainly interested in his research and not course design/pedagogy, the courses are very rigorous and well organised. Both textbooks are very well written on the whole, and come with a handbook, the first half of which contains pre-requisite knowledge summaries and all the things your likely to need (standard integrals, summaries of mathematical techniques etc), while the latter half contains summaries of each unit. Also expect very good cross-referencing both within a module and between modules (e.g. in MST326 it'll say 'we can solve this PDE using separation of variables, (See MST210 Unit X, Page XX)).

    Regarding time commitment, the individual modules have a guideline as to how much study time is required. I would normally suggest taking the upper limits as a guideline, as I would expect the lower limits to be if you want to pass, rather than get a distinction. However, with your previous studies, this might not apply, and you may want to go by the lower limit. From what I know, a 30 credit module requires 8-10 hours a week, while a 60 credit module requires 16-20 hours a week. A full-time course would have 120 credits, so expect a minimum of 32 hours study a week.

    Overall, I strongly recommend.
  5. Apr 22, 2017 #4


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    Gold Member

    General experience of many people is that OU courses are excellent .

    Please note though that the courses are not all based entirely on distance learning and private study .

    Most of the courses in scientific and engineering subjects require the student to attend in person at the OU campus for labs , intensive courses and some tutorials .
  6. Apr 22, 2017 #5
    That used to be the case, but most residential courses were scrapped a few years ago.
  7. Apr 26, 2017 #6

    Hi - many thanks for the feedback. Much appreciated. I am very very tempted to do the course. Its a question of time commitment to see it through. I will have to think about that hard. Take care.
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