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freerange

Open University?

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Reading some of the other threads I've noticed a few people mention they're studying with the OU, and since I couldn't find a thread for it I thought I'd start one. What are you studying & what are you aiming for? Also don't forget to tell us what you think of the courses you've done so far.

I'm doing maths, currently MS221. So far, course good, balancing it with the rest of life :(

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Just signed up for S194 today. All the astronomy events seem to stop over the summer months so thought this was a good way to keep it going. The ultimate goal? Well, I always did want to be a professional astronomer...chances are zero but it will be fun to learn more. And who knows? Maybe the future presenter of Sky at Night....

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I did a degree in Computing and IT but managed to squeeze in S282 Astronomy and a couple of maths courses (inc. M221) along the way.

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i Started my Ou degree back in 1976 took me a long time but it was worth it Started with s101 Science foundation course followed by M101 Maths then second third a fourth year courses in Earthscience and environmental studies ended up in my final year doing the understanding space and time course and finished on quantum physics so ended up with Bsc 1st hons a lot of luck in that and a huge amount of time spent burning the midnight oils but worth every minute and £ spent So to all who are studying with the OU best wishes and keep to your study plan its Worth it in the end

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well I'm half way through my degree with the OU.

But I took a break from study when I changed jobs and that's now 10 years ago so I must get back to it...

to date I've done S102, M205(i think it was) fundamentals of computing, also did Geology and 'earth and life' but can't remember the course numbers of the top of my head.

I did do evolution but as that was around my job change I never finished it. :((

I'd like to get on to the Astronomy courses at some point and get myself a planetary sciences degree.

one day........

Ian

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S282 looks interesting, but alas not compatible with the other courses I want to do. Gaz, what did you think of it? Is it very mathsy?

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S282 looks interesting, but alas not compatible with the other courses I want to do. Gaz, what did you think of it? Is it very mathsy?

Its has some maths, not that difficult but only having a maths 'O' level from 20 years ago I def. wouldn't have liked to take S282 without taking MT121 first.

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I've recently completed S194 (Introduction to Astronomy) and S197 (How the Universe Works). They were both rewarding courses, although quite different from one another in approach, and well worth the time and money.

S194 does involve some maths but it's fairly light. The course deals more with introducing concepts than with hard numbers. It's organised logically, starting with the Sun, then covering the Solar System, stars, galaxies, galaxy clusters, and finally the Universe. One chapter of particular help to an amateur astronomer covers the motions of planets and stars across the sky, and makes use of the supplied planisphere and Stellarium software. It's written in a clear and accessible style which shouldn't put off any newcomers to science.

S197 is written in a drier, more academic style than S194. Although the pure mathematical content is still quite low, the concepts covered are harder to grasp (for my poor brain at least!) The course covers the various species of particles, the fundamental forces, nuclear fusion in stars and the history of the Universe from the point of view of particles and forces; then it jumps in scale to look at things like galaxies and the expansion of the Universe. Some of the course covers areas touched upon in S194 but in a slightly different way.

I'll probably have a crack at S196 (The Planets: an Introduction) next and I might ultimately try either S282 or C91.

Alex

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Barry and Anne: good luck with S194, I'm sure you'll thoroughly enjoy it!

Alex

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I've done S194, S151 and am currently doing S282 and S283 together, started them in Feb. My maths is supremely rubbish so I struggle a little on S282, and I also haven't studied physics since GCSE so I'm going quite slowly. S283, however, is brilliant - my first degree and my masters are in earth science / marine science so the whole lot just sort of fits. I'm aiming for the BSc in Physical Science but I'm going to backtrack a little first - I'm going to do S207, MST121, MS221, maybe MST208 and MS208. I want to make absolutely sure that my maths is up to scratch before moving onto the level 3 astronomy and physics courses which I've heard are pretty hard to wrap ones head around.

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I've just finished S194 and am currently doing MST121. I'm going to do an open BSc with the emphasis on astronomy, so my (so far!) planned route is MST121, S207, S282, MST221, MST209 (I'm dreading that, I'm not brilliant at maths but I think it's an essential unit to get to be able to do the level 3 courses), S357 and S381. Be aware though that 357 and 381 are being rewritten so by the time I get there they will probably be something else.

S194 will be no problem to anyone who is already interested in astronomy, which I have to assume everyone here is! I did it mainly to get into the swing of doing academic work again and see what the admin side of the OU was like. MST121 is a bit tougher but I'm doing OK so far, had both my assesments that I've done so far marked at 95% and above. The main thing about doing OU stuff is to keep on top of it, if you can get a little bit in front it will make you feel a lot better. Two of the courses I'm doing are 60 points each but the rest are 30 and I reckon I probably spend 4 or 5 hours a week on the maths course that I'm doing now. I know of one guy who started the same time as me and he's actually finished already, it's not supposed to finish until October! I'm only doing this for my own interest so I'm only going to do one unit each year, so most of them will be 30 points.

You may be interested in this link which gives you example questions to see if you are ready to take that particular unit.

http://www.open.ac.uk/science/courses-qualifications/are-you-ready-for-science/printable-self-assessments.php

I'm really glad I decided to do this, at 52 the old brain can quickly atrophy and i must say I'm really enjoying getting stuck into something that's making the old grey cells work.

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I know of one guy who started the same time as me and he's actually finished already, it's not supposed to finish until October!

That happened on the AI course I took (T396) but the guy had misunderstood a fundamental point in the course and had to redo 2 assignments (out of 4) from scratch. I was pretty funny as the guy was a wise guy who used to post on the OU forums quite regularly telling us how far ahead he was and how easy the assignments we were struggling with were. The thread in which he finally realized his mistake was internet gold....

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i am tired of my knowledge being outdated so intend to save for and study these S194 (Introduction to Astronomy) and S197.

I aim to hopefully complete one this year and another next year. Quite looking forward to it

To add to it

Thats subject to me completing my studies in programming oh and becoming a Trainer! lol

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I have done 3 now, 194 and 196 which were good. 196 (the planets) was bleedy annoying in many ways not least that 4 or 5 out of the 24 end of course assessment questions had errors in them. That wasted a lot of time. At the price you really expect better.

On the subject of price I believe that Tesco clubcard points can be used towards OU courses.

Anthony

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Hi,

I'm currently study S282 Astronomy with the OU and have recently come back from SXR208 Observing the Universe in Mallorca.

S282 is so far maths-lite and proving to be quite enjoyable and SXR208 was truly inspiring - I got to be an astronomer for a week, playing with spectrographs and generally living & breathing stars and planets.....(there may have been a little beer time too ;-) )

Here's my OU plan to get a BSc (Hons) Physics - though I have to sneak a Level 1 ten pointer in there somewhere too.

S381, SXP390 - 2011 ** Finish **

S357 - 2010

SM358 / SMXR358 - 2009

S282 / SXR208 - 2008,

MST209 / MSXR209 - 2007,

T209 - 2006,

Relax - 2005,

MS221 - 2004,

S207 - 2003,

MST121 - 2002

If anyone wants to get in touch about OU, feel free.

Rob

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Hi Rob,

I'd love to hear some more about SXR208. When I was thinking about taking some astronomy-based courses it was the description of SXR208 that finally persuaded me!

I admire your determination in going for the BSc. I'm not sure yet whether to go any further than S282, but I guess I'll know if and when I get there.

Regards

Alex

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Hi Alex,

What was cool about SXR208 was that we managed to cram in a hell of a lot.

You can basically choose 4 out of 7 or 8 projects to do over the course of the week (decided before you go) and you get put into teams to carry them out. It is very helpful if you know your way around Excel before you go as there is a lot of graph producing - you either work on data that you/your team collects straight from observations, or there is plenty of backup data. So, in essence, clear skies are a bonus, but you can get thru without - we had a mixture of the two.

Everyone has to do spectroscopy - sounds the most ominous but was actually probably the most fascinating part. My team and I examined thin slices of real meteorite under a microscope, chose a landing site on Mars for the ExoMars missions and presented a report about why our site was the best, and we tried to track an asteroid (our group actually missed it... ;-) )

There were some really knowledgeable tutors who were more than happy to field questions - sometimes daft ones too !

basically, although it was essentially a set of 12 hour night shifts, you are always kept busy and it flies by.

Food at the observatory was (in my opinion) not much cop. However, the Hotel Delfin Siesta Mar was excellent and in a great location with beach and local restaurants (and bars !) right nearby.

I went there as someone who has a Meade EXT-90 that has been used about 5 or 6 times in anger and has enthusiam.

I spent a week being an astronomer.

I returned richer for the whole experience. It has inspired me to get more involved in astronomy, helped with S282 and I met a great bunch of people.

Personally, if I had the money, I'd do it again !! :hello1:

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Hey Rob,

Thanks for describing SXR208 - it sounds fantastic. I just don't think I could afford it, though. Especially with having to get the flights on top of the cost of the course. I love the idea of doing spectroscopy - this is my field, what I really want to do. Sounds brilliant. It's been a long time since I've been in a real observatory so it just sounds really exciting.

I'm aiming for the same degree - physics with an astronomy bias. What are the maths residential courses like? It seems like it will take me so long, though. S282 / S283 feel like they're going so slowly and that I'll never get to the end. I'm still really enjoying it, though. Thanks for sharing your experiences ;)

Maya.

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