Online Learning · Politics · Specialist Generalism

Open University study



I study with the open university, which I do enjoy greatly, however I wanted to share my blog post from the Open University site with everyone here: My concern here is the level of marks and grade boundaries at the OU compared to bricks and mortar universities. I would be very interested to hear on thoughts on this subject, if you feel I am being unfair or can you see my point below?:


i know it is way to early to be considering this point, but I have been looking through the classification rules for honours degrees. I am a little bit compulsive/obsessive about these sort of things and so I cannot help but look and think about them.

So YO32 and DD103 were just distinction or pass ranks, I passed both, with an average mark of 80%, but no distinction for me (85% required), and now we are on to level 2 scores the 1,2,3 and 4 scoring systems kick in.

So through my first 3 tma’s I rank 83%, which is a level 2 pass, but as is well documented the exam/ema scores that you get as the final part of the module are even harder to score well in.

So at the moment I am ranking as a level 2 pass, or the equivalent of a 2:1 degree. I find that very scary considering the final exam might well not be as much of a good score, so the thought that even with, what I thought were good tma scores, I might only rank as a level 3 pass for this module is a little disheartening.

There are quite a few blogs and forum posts online about how hard it is to get a good degree classification from the O.U and having looked at the level of mark required to get into the top 2 degree levels I tend to agree with them.

At a bricks and mortar university the grade boundaries are different and lower, someone i know got 78% and that was a first class degree in social work. 78% with the OU would leave me sweating on a 2:2 or a 2:1 pass !

on my degree pathway, BA (Hons) Politics, Philosophy and Economics I have 3 level 2 modules and 2 level 3 modules, I only had one level 1 module. Since I have 90 credits already, this module I am currently on, DD211′ investigating political institutions in the modern world’ would give me another 60 credits, taking me up to 150 credits. I think I might investigate the options for transferring out of the O.U to another online provider or a part time course with a local bricks and mortar university.

I suppose it is a fine balance, the OU want us to study with them, after all they get the fee’s for our study, however they need to have a large take up to support themselves financially. But with some of the cost cutting measures and restructuring work done by the Vice-chancellor I wonder if the level of fee they charge, combined with the challenging high marks required for a top 2 level pass is worth the debt I am incurring for it(I pay for my study with a student loan).

So I will have a look at my other options, I am sure I cannot be the only student who has considered or done this before. my apologies if I am just reiterating the previous concerns of other students.

Without wishing to state the obvious, it is a learning process. I enrolled for an access module (YO32) to see if study suited me, I had no idea back then about grade boundaries and module study. I qualified for the free Access course, then when I decided I wanted to start a degree, found that the cost of £ 675 for the access module had been added to my student loan! I had first opted for an open degree, but having done some research, I decided to switch to a degree pathway and study Politics, Philosophy and Economics.

So it has been a learning process, so I feel a little bit ungrateful for having benefitted from the process, to now been in a position where I am questioning the value and nature of the process, it’s classification process and considering changing to a new provider.

However I will have a £ 18,000 debt on completing study, with the O.U or elsewhere and for me and my level of income, that is a huge debt and I will be paying it back past my retirement age. So I feel I have to be sure I have made the best possible use of the loan, and off set the risk of having the loan by securing the best possible outcome from using it.

So is a £ 18,000 debt, 6 years of study and the amount of study required worth it? If I scored a solid 75% in my 5 of my 6 years of study and received a 2:1, then YES.

but if I end up with a £ 18,000 debt, 6 years of study and, what I would considered a solid mark of 70%, with a 2:2 degree, the I would say NO.

I would be very interested in your comments, I would like to know if I am being unreasonable, or if you might think I am right to be concerned?


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