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Open University - Anyone done a Physics Degree

Discussion in 'General Chat Forum' started by nheather, Aug 3, 2011.

  1. nheather

    nheather Well-Known Member

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    I'm contemplating doing a Physics Degree at Open University. Here's why

    Firstly it will be just a hobby - I already have a job and a career so I don't need it for that.

    I have always loved and been good a Physics - I took it at A Level (Grade A) but decided to follow an engineering route at University and did Electronic Engineering.

    That have served me fine, but I still look back and think of Phyics as the pure science, the one that I'm most interested in.

    Obviously, I have the electronics and electrical side pretty covered and will try to avoid those options. What I would really like to know and understand more are two extremes - particle physics and astro physics.

    My questions are

    Q1 - How detailed do OU courses go. I've read the prospectus and the module descriptions and still not certain. I'm concerned that structure is to cover lots of different subjects at a high level rather than anything in detail. I've tried asking the OU and they just say read the module desciptions which are basically a paragraph or two. Especially concerned as a Physic A Level isn't required so will it be pitched low (at least to start with).

    Q2 - Would I be better off just getting books on the subject and teaching myself. The upside to OU is that it provides a drive, a structure and support to learing whereas doing it my self it would be all too easy to lose focus or struggle without help.

    With OU I would be looking at £5k to £6k over 5 years. The money isn't at issue but that is not to say that I can afford to waste it.

    I would appreciate peoples opinions.

    Cheers,

    Nigel
  2. Luno

    Luno Member

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    I think OU prices are going up September 2012. I was thinking about finishing off my degree but can't afford to now the prices will go up.

    The average course prices will be based on about £5k per a year (120 points), £2.5k for (60 points), etc as other Universities are increasing their tutition fees from circa £3k a year to £9k a year. It depends on the course though as I noticed the Business modules were a lot more expensive than say Sciences modules.

    Good luck with you studies :smashin:
  3. nheather

    nheather Well-Known Member

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    If you start before Sept 2012 then it is still under the old scheme of prices.

    No way would I do it just for personal interest under the new scheme.

    Cheers,

    Nigel
  4. Luno

    Luno Member

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    Yes I think your right, just read the FAQ. Thats great news. These new fees are really expensive!
  5. mtunreal69

    mtunreal69 Member

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    I would say pursuit yours hearts interests.

    I didn't study at OU but obtained my Physics BSc and MSc elsewhere and I am currently coming into my third year of PhD study (still in Physics). I have had some discussion with members/academics of the OU over the years and their work is peer reviewed to the same standards as everyone else.

    However for "undergraduate" studies the only thing I would check is the modules available to yourself. Generally the specialist titles will diverge into astro physics, where as core element should cater to solid state, quantum, electromagnetic theory, crystallography etc etc.

    Having a knowledge of electronics and engineering aspects will be invaluable for portions of the study. Experimental physics is something that is slowly being diverged from, which is a shame as the theoretical boys can't run everything. ha

    Hope I helped, even if only a little.
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  6. nheather

    nheather Well-Known Member

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    Thanks,

    I think my concern stems from the fact that no science or math qualifications are required to start the course.

    The BSC Physics starts with module S104 Exploring Science at £700 for 60 points, which seems to be about getting peoples basic science and maths skills upto a level that they can start for real.

    There is no escaping this one and indeed there are lesser courses that you can take first if you are not confident.

    S104 has an online 'are you good enough' test which I passed with ease - personally I reckon my 13 yo daughter could have passed it.

    I'm just worried that this is setting the scene for a lower level of education and then when I look at the modules there are loads of them so does this mean that you learn lots at a high level.

    Cheers,

    Nigel
  7. qwerty321

    qwerty321 Active Member

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    I dont know about OU specifically but sometimes starting modules in the first year of a university course can be like this. For my computing degree, Computing A-Level was preferred but not essential. There was a module in the first semester that covered pretty much everything I did in my Computing A-Level, in 12 weeks! There was also a Computing Maths module that was pretty basic as well.
  8. Iccz

    Iccz Active Member

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    I don't know the exact courses but I could probably find out, one of my friends has already completed a course on cosmology and is now doing mathematics and physics.

    From the questions and such I have seen they are rather basic and very sweeping of the subjects as there's not a great deal of focus on any specific areas. That said she enjoyed the cosmology course enough to take up two more OU courses and is now getting herself in to Uni from her efforts with these courses. I believe she found the courses rather easy for the most part (a little confusing at some times but everyone gets that), so I'm not sure what level she started at.
  9. DPinBucks

    DPinBucks Active Member

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    I was in a pretty similar state to you, although my degree actually was in physics, a long time ago. As a kind of 'hobby' I did some 30-point OU undergraduate courses a few years ago, including S287 Planetary Science (Level 2) and S357 Space, Time & Cosmology (Level 3). The code numbers and courses may have changed since then.

    No way would I say these were 'poor relations'. They were in fact quite demanding, and I thought of very high quality. S357 in particular required a good knowledge of advanced maths.

    I also did S366 Evolution, which I enjoyed throughly. For a Physics degree you won't necessarily need every module to be in Physics: one or two side-topics might be fun.

    I suggest you look at all the modules, decide whether you want to start at Level 1 or move straight on to the higher levels. Remember that you need 360 points for a degree, so for three years that's four 30-point units a year, which is full-time studying. Do not underestimate how much time you'll need.

    Looking at the current prospectus, S357 seems to have been replaced by S383. The other two are still going.
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  10. nheather

    nheather Well-Known Member

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    I got the impression that you had to start with a Level 1.

    Cheers,

    Nigel
  11. walleee

    walleee Member

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    I've literally just had a call from them asking if ill be starting this year - I have 2 years worth of credits from uni that i'm considering topping up for an open degree....


    just don't know what course to choose...
  12. DPinBucks

    DPinBucks Active Member

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    No, I don't think so. The website doesn't give that impression.

    Fyi, this is the recommended route to a BSc in Natural Sciences specialising in Physics:

    Physics Qualification Route - B64 BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences - Open University

    But as I say, you can mix'n'match. You need the full 360 points, but pre-existing qualifications might be able to count towards it. You'd need to check to make sure.
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  13. nheather

    nheather Well-Known Member

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    Thanks DPinBucks

    That is useful. In particular if you look at S151 Maths for science there is a test to see if you are prepared but also a test to see if you need it.

    Had a look at the 'do you need it test' and I can answer all the questions - I would say that it is pitched at GCSE Level Maths.

    Although it does support my worry about the level of education.

    This is what you should be able to answer once you have completed S151

    http://www.open.ac.uk/science/__assets/7pcymbofqghe2nbv9e.pdf

    Not boasting but that is pretty basic stuff. When I did my Electronics Degree there was a basic maths course to bring everyone upto speed but that was to make sure that we could all differentiate, integrate, solve differential equations before moving onto LaPlace and Fourier. This OU course looks like it is just making sure you can do GCSE maths.

    Cheers,

    Nigel
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2011
  14. dieeasysteve

    dieeasysteve Active Member

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    That does look a bit GCSE level stuff,
  15. motoroller

    motoroller Member

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    Does anyone know about the masters courses? I'm in a similar boat but I've studied physics and was thinking about a masters in mathematics
  16. nheather

    nheather Well-Known Member

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    I'd be interested in this aswell. I have assumed that I can't do a Masters in Physics because I don't have a degree in Physics but that might not be the case.

    Cheers,

    Nigel
  17. RichGK

    RichGK Member

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    Essentially if you get awarded a degree with honours on an OU course then expect it to be as intense as any other degree with honours course. The only difference is that you do it long distance with the occasional group meeting (maybe once a month).

    For example when I did a level 3 60 point course it took me about 15-20 hours a week. In no way are OU courses an easy option! Unless you go for a quick degree without honours which can be got for less points and I think you can get with less level 3 study, but the level 3 stuff is where it gets good ;)

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