Advice needed! Open university - BSc Honours Computing and IT

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Hi all,

New to the forums so sorry in advance for any mistakes!

Just letting you know that this may be a long post explaining why I'm applying for this course and a bit on my background, if you have any advice for me that would be appreciated or if you want share your experience then please feel free to do so.

After a good few weeks of thinking if this is the right thing for me I decided to register, all I need to do now is wait for sfe to open so I can submit my application for a tuition fee loan. I'm planning on studying at full time intensity as I'm only working part time and struggling to find things to do in my days off! I've worked out how much time I will need to devote to my studies and have mocked up a basic timetable of sorts so feel I'm ready to get started in that respect! I know one or two people that have studied degrees with the open uni and they have only said good things about it however I am aware that people have had bad experiences and I'll approach everything with an open mind and see how everything goes for me personally.

The modules I've chosen for my first year are:

TU100
TM129
MU123

During school and college I was one of those people who didn't really know what they wanted to do and I made many mistakes that have haunted me to this day. I was always interested in computers and got good grades but I was also a keen artist, I used to love drawing and found getting an A* easy. This led me to applying for a btec in graphic design at college. I thought by combining my interest in art with ICT would serve me well but during the first few months I quickly realised that it wasn't for me. I just didn't enjoy drawing anymore, at least not as much as I did. I became disillusioned and unhappy and stupidly decided to drop out. I started working part time in retail and sought out applying for IT related apprenticeships, entry level, junior roles etc and found securing interviews quite easy, after leaving school I got some work experience over the summer holidays at a web design company where I'd done work experience before in year 10 although this time around it was a more hands on position which looked good on my CV. They told me to apply everything I've learned into my own personal projects like building my own website making games etc which I did. I started building my own website based around things that interested me and I'm still working on it to this day adding new features refining the code etc I also made a few basic games. In interviews I enjoyed talking about my time with the company and how it helped me and about working on my own projects in my spare time, the interviewers were always interested and keen to know more but then it was time for me to explain why I dropped out of college. My explanation was that I just didn't enjoy art anymore so I quit to secure an apprenticeship. It never went down well and I feel the interviewers thought I would just quit when it suited me. I never secured an apprenticeship and when I turned 20 I gave up applying for them. My confidence took a massive hit and I felt that was it for me in regards to a career in IT. I turn 22 in September and feel I've wasted my life so far, yeah I have a good social life and all that but the one thing that's missing is a rewarding career. I dont want to be a retail slave for the rest of my life, yeah you can make a living out of it and I've met some truly great people but its not for me. Since learning about the open uni I've been as motivated as I've ever been to go after my goals and I feel having a degree will help massively in getting my foot in the door and securing me a job that i crave. Now I don't expect to just walk into a job at the end of it that would be silly but if I use the knowledge I gain on the course to further my own personal projects, start new ones mabye even seek out some more work experience I will have a lot more to offer a potential employer and hopefully they can see that I'm not the same person as the one who dropped out of college. But that's a ways off yet, I know in order to get what I want first I have to work hard and put everything I have into my studies.

If you took the time to read this I thank you and would love to know weather you think I'm doing the right or wrong thing, maybe you realate to this in one way or another id love to hear your story!

Thanks again guys
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Urist
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Holy wall of text, Batman.

Anyway, having read through all that, I do think you're doing the right thing. The Open University is really well respected so if you apply yourself well to the course then you'll learn a lot and be able to impress potential employers. 3/4 of FTSE 100 companies sponsor staff to take Open University courses and quite a few actively prefer OU graduates to those of other universities because it requires you to work independently and to study at university level purely for its own sake - you're not going to be getting parties with distance learning.

I noticed that you're taking Discovering Mathematics. If you've had any experience of A level Maths or passed AS level then it'll probably be a bit basic for you; otherwise you've probably made the right choice. Be warned that My Digital Life has a lot of negative reviews on the OU website and is generally considered far too easy for people who know even basic programming and such, but it's intended to cater to all skill levels. Level 2 and 3 modules are far more challenging and rewarding.

I'm also going to be starting Computing & IT this October, straight out of high school. I've spent an absurd amount of time researching just about every Computing/Maths related course and module available so feel free to ask anything theoretical you need to know.

I personally chose to study with the OU, despite having three unconditionals so far for Psychology, for quite a few reasons. I'd always planned on applying for Computer Science at university and was going to do so until I realised I didn't have the entry requirements for anywhere decent. My school had never told me I needed to take Maths at Higher for this, so despite getting >80% in Higher Computing, I wasn't qualified for Compsci. I managed to get an apprenticeship in programming for a few months but ultimately dropped out because the training was extremely poorly organised. I'm currently back in school finishing Advanced Higher English and Higher Philosophy.

The OU appeals to me because it's focused entirely on learning - I can study where it's most comfortable, with high quality materials, effectively for free thanks to SaaS. I've studied Futurelearn and OpenLearn courses and been extremely impressed by how much more enjoyable it is to study through distance learning. Plus, the Open University is extremely well respected for the quality of its teaching and its graduates, effectively placing it above any brick university in Scotland that I know of. It also means that most of my peers at any physical meetings such as day classes will almost certainly be taking their studies seriously, and the majority are older than the standard university age. I think it'll foster quite a pleasant atmosphere.

The Computing & IT course also has a lot of fantastic options for Computer Science which allow you to learn about hash tables, algorithm theory, data management and many other important things. There are a lot of Computer Science courses in other universities that are very poorly made but the OU's seems sound and has BCS recognition to prove it. I can't wait to start.
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(Original post by Urist)
Holy wall of text, Batman.

Anyway, having read through all that, I do think you're doing the right thing. The Open University is really well respected so if you apply yourself well to the course then you'll learn a lot and be able to impress potential employers. 3/4 of FTSE 100 companies sponsor staff to take Open University courses and quite a few actively prefer OU graduates to those of other universities because it requires you to work independently and to study at university level purely for its own sake - you're not going to be getting parties with distance learning.

I noticed that you're taking Discovering Mathematics. If you've had any experience of A level Maths or passed AS level then it'll probably be a bit basic for you; otherwise you've probably made the right choice. Be warned that My Digital Life has a lot of negative reviews on the OU website and is generally considered far too easy for people who know even basic programming and such, but it's intended to cater to all skill levels. Level 2 and 3 modules are far more challenging and rewarding.

I'm also going to be starting Computing & IT this October, straight out of high school. I've spent an absurd amount of time researching just about every Computing/Maths related course and module available so feel free to ask anything theoretical you need to know.

I personally chose to study with the OU, despite having three unconditionals so far for Psychology, for quite a few reasons. I'd always planned on applying for Computer Science at university and was going to do so until I realised I didn't have the entry requirements for anywhere decent. My school had never told me I needed to take Maths at Higher for this, so despite getting >80% in Higher Computing, I wasn't qualified for Compsci. I managed to get an apprenticeship in programming for a few months but ultimately dropped out because the training was extremely poorly organised. I'm currently back in school finishing Advanced Higher English and Higher Philosophy.

The OU appeals to me because it's focused entirely on learning - I can study where it's most comfortable, with high quality materials, effectively for free thanks to SaaS. I've studied Futurelearn and OpenLearn courses and been extremely impressed by how much more enjoyable it is to study through distance learning. Plus, the Open University is extremely well respected for the quality of its teaching and its graduates, effectively placing it above any brick university in Scotland that I know of. It also means that most of my peers at any physical meetings such as day classes will almost certainly be taking their studies seriously, and the majority are older than the standard university age. I think it'll foster quite a pleasant atmosphere.

The Computing & IT course also has a lot of fantastic options for Computer Science which allow you to learn about hash tables, algorithm theory, data management and many other important things. There are a lot of Computer Science courses in other universities that are very poorly made but the OU's seems sound and has BCS recognition to prove it. I can't wait to start.
Thanks for your response I really appreciate it and totally get where your coming from. The whole aspect of being able to plan it around your life and totally take control of your education is why it appeals so much to me. I think if you put the work in then there's no reason why you can't succeed! The sky really is the limit!
I chose the discovering mathematics as I haven't gone past GCSE level in which I got a B so I think it was the right choice for me and my digital life reviews arnt the best but its compulsory so I don't mind and the thing I hope to get from it is experience with how the OU works and the methods it uses etc so down the line I know roughly what to expect. Again its all new for me jumping back into education and marks a point in my life where I can start to build a bright future doing something I want to do so like you I'm really looking forward to starting and I can't wait! Good luck with your studies!
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bouncingmonkey
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Hey! Nice to meet you and your Great Wall of Text. Haha. I'm hopefully starting in October too, just gotta sort out my Student Finance and wait for them to get done processing everything I too have art qualifications previously, but decided I'd rather keep it as a hobby!
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winalotuk
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hi i did a computing degree with ou - well mixed, computing and psychology. The computing faculty are absolutely dire, they changed module requirements midway thorugh meaning i had to do 120 level 3 points (3 courses in one year) and the computing project is just chaotic. i followed my tutors advice to the letter and got a grade d in that - they won't explain it but my tutor had a heart attack mid-way through marking and i don't believe he contributed. At the moment they won't engage with complaints at all so I am a bit stuck as to what to do.

i wish i'd never signed up for it. the tuition quality in computing in my experience is just awful and certainly not sufficient to get a job with.
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(Original post by winalotuk)
hi i did a computing degree with ou - well mixed, computing and psychology. The computing faculty are absolutely dire, they changed module requirements midway thorugh meaning i had to do 120 level 3 points (3 courses in one year) and the computing project is just chaotic. i followed my tutors advice to the letter and got a grade d in that - they won't explain it but my tutor had a heart attack mid-way through marking and i don't believe he contributed. At the moment they won't engage with complaints at all so I am a bit stuck as to what to do.

i wish i'd never signed up for it. the tuition quality in computing in my experience is just awful and certainly not sufficient to get a job with.
... Oh. Was this recently? Bit offputting. Hopefully it's improved!
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hi yes it was recent - my final courses were the end of last year. In my opinion the OU have gotten worst year on year since i started (hopefully i'm not the cause!) in terms of course materials - either more and more out of date or very little provided, reducing face to face tutorials to the point where tutorials are not even offered in major cities like London which i'd be willing to travel to, frequently malfunctioning library facilities (with no notification). The online tutorials have been dire, absolute confusion with not much beyond course materials pasted onto slides and very juvenile content. I found myself almost entirely reliant on youtube videos like Khan Academy and Professor Fink for lecture material to get through some of my courses. I can't really understand why this should be the case, I assume a combination of money-saving and just not having the organisation to offer education of sufficient quality.
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Neotek112
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Hi Guys, A bit Late to the Party but i was thinking about enrolling on a computing degree With OU. Hopefully there is still enough time to get my student loan. Perhaps we should swap Skypes so we can chat help each other out!
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Urist
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(Original post by Neotek112)
Hi Guys, A bit Late to the Party but i was thinking about enrolling on a computing degree With OU. Hopefully there is still enough time to get my student loan. Perhaps we should swap Skypes so we can chat help each other out!
There should still be enough time to get student loans. As far as I'm aware the loans for part time stuff only open up for applications in June anyway, or at least that's how SaaS funding works in Scotland. I'd recommend taking a quick look at http://www.open.ac.uk/courses/fees-and-funding and https://www.gov.uk/apply-online-for-student-finance (the latter is linked in the How to apply section of the former). It appears the deadline for applying is 9 months after the start of your academic year (this October) and the applications are open right now.

I'll PM you my Skype details.
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stephenwenn
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Wow, that is a big wall of text! Managed to give it a read though.

I've been studying this course since 2012 as well as some business modules and to be frank, I haven't particularly found the course rewarding.

I'm now going to a brick university September to start a 2 day a week full time course. My reasoning for this is that I only just learnt Java in my 2nd year with the OU, yet compared to a brick university you'll be making working applications at the end of your 1st.

I'm not trying to knock the OU, but I just feel this doesn't quite compare to actually attending a university.

On a more positive note the OU gives a great freedom and does allow you to work. The courses provide you all the information you require to learn and rarely do you have to seek additional information to learn - in this sense it is very organised and to the point for the students.

It all depends on what you want from it at the end. I personally felt that a change to a brick university would be a better career move for the long term, but that's just my own career move and where I am heading (IT infrastructure support/software development).

Stephen
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Urist
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(Original post by stephenwenn)
Wow, that is a big wall of text! Managed to give it a read though.

I've been studying this course since 2012 as well as some business modules and to be frank, I haven't particularly found the course rewarding.

I'm now going to a brick university September to start a 2 day a week full time course. My reasoning for this is that I only just learnt Java in my 2nd year with the OU, yet compared to a brick university you'll be making working applications at the end of your 1st.

I'm not trying to knock the OU, but I just feel this doesn't quite compare to actually attending a university.

On a more positive note the OU gives a great freedom and does allow you to work. The courses provide you all the information you require to learn and rarely do you have to seek additional information to learn - in this sense it is very organised and to the point for the students.

It all depends on what you want from it at the end. I personally felt that a change to a brick university would be a better career move for the long term, but that's just my own career move and where I am heading (IT infrastructure support/software development).

Stephen
Would you say that the problem with the modules was specific to the computing modules or that they were with the Open University as a whole? I'm currently signed up to "Computing & IT and a Second Subject" with the intention of making the second subject Mathematics but if the Maths modules were vastly superior to the Computing ones then I'd probably consider doing a Bsc in Mathematics instead.

Good luck with your studies at brick uni and your future career.
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stephenwenn
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(Original post by Urist)
Would you say that the problem with the modules was specific to the computing modules or that they were with the Open University as a whole? I'm currently signed up to "Computing & IT and a Second Subject" with the intention of making the second subject Mathematics but if the Maths modules were vastly superior to the Computing ones then I'd probably consider doing a Bsc in Mathematics instead.

Good luck with your studies at brick uni and your future career.
Hi Urist,

The OU computing modules will start of with a module called TU100 - this module was interesting bug was very low level. The problem with the OU is it's aimed at people who have not been in education for a long time, making the 1st year much easier than a traditional university. I've just done a couple level 2 modules and they were good, but I just felt this is what you should be doing in your first year to an extent.

I took the MU123 maths module and this was very good. It was again aimed at low people, but the material was well organised and taught you step by step. I believe it's much easier to have a maths degree to the same level as a brick university due to it's all the same.. you learn the same concepts to solve the problems. With computing it's very vast, making it much harder for the same results.

I wouldn't rule out doing computing with the OU, as it's obviously very good in it's own right. Maybe i'm just being picky?

Stephen
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Urist
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(Original post by stephenwenn)
Hi Urist,

The OU computing modules will start of with a module called TU100 - this module was interesting bug was very low level. The problem with the OU is it's aimed at people who have not been in education for a long time, making the 1st year much easier than a traditional university. I've just done a couple level 2 modules and they were good, but I just felt this is what you should be doing in your first year to an extent.

I took the MU123 maths module and this was very good. It was again aimed at low people, but the material was well organised and taught you step by step. I believe it's much easier to have a maths degree to the same level as a brick university due to it's all the same.. you learn the same concepts to solve the problems. With computing it's very vast, making it much harder for the same results.

I wouldn't rule out doing computing with the OU, as it's obviously very good in it's own right. Maybe i'm just being picky?

Stephen
I don't mind the level 1 Computing stuff being very basic. I'm kind of planning on it in order to be able to focus more on learning the Essential Maths 1 (and either Essential Maths 2 or Introducing Statistics) stuff since I haven't formally studied maths for a few years now. For the last few months I've been using Khan Academy, MOOCs, A Level Edexcel books, etc. to help me get up to speed but I'll still want plenty of opportunity to focus on it.

I'm glad that TU100 was interesting, anyway. I'd heard people say it was outright boring and frivolous which I wouldn't have wanted, but it being a bit simplistic is fine, especially since I'm also taking Computing courses on Udacity, FutureLearn, etc. and aiming to work on projects in my spare time. The level 2 & 3 Computer Science stuff seems really good anyway (M250, M269, TM351), plus doing a project at the end sounds like a great idea.

I have plenty of time to think about it anyway. The part time fee grants with SaaS haven't even opened up yet. Thanks for your advice.

Edit: Turns out that the part time fee grants actually are open to applications now, but they only opened in the last few days as far as I know.
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Just to add to this thread, I've just completed TU100, and didnt read anything after block 1 unless it was a specific of a TMA.

I understand that there is a need to get people to study and structure assignments in certain ways, and to raise standards to an acceptable level for degree level study. I find this acceptable as the general consensus is level 2 and 3 is much better, and much more rewarding, and as they are the only levels that count towards your degree classification then it works ok.

That said, the content on TU100 was depressingly dull, and doesnt inspire you to study, and at nearly £3k its a lot of cash I felt was wasted.

Bear in mind I didnt read the blocks, I have it on good authority, that Sense was quite interesting, however the TMAs/EMA were too easy, as they required no real depth of knowledge to gain almost perfect scores. This was the one element of the course that could have really helped to inspire learning, but because you didnt need to know it then it felt rather wasted.

Tutorials, Day Schools, and online tutorials are luck of the draw somewhat, I had 3 tutorials (2 hours each) and an introduction online tutorial, that repeated the 1st face to face really, others had 5 x 5 hour day schools, or multiple online tutorials.

Ultimately, people mostly enroll in TU100 to kick start a degree, so they luckily have some determination, as to be honest, I would have quit if I even for one moment thought that TU100 was going to be a typical experience of the OU for the next 6 years of my life.

Im enrolled in MU123, and TM129 for October, and whilst my maths is solid enough that I dont think I have much to worry about on that course, I figured that I would use these next 2 courses to try to teach myself how to study at this level, as TU100 wasnt able to inspire me to do that.

Good luck with your studies
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tim_123
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Your doing the right thing. Yes tu100 is a bit basic, but it's still interesting and has some good topics. I think you'll really enjoy the 2nd year modules. I just got a distinction in m269 and I absolutely loved that module, was a tough one but totally worth doing.

I've also always found the tutors to be very helpful and responsive, whereas my friends who have done brick unis always complained that there was never any feedback from there's.
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dko
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Hey guys,

I made an account just to post in this thread!

Let me just take a sec to explain my situation, without boring you all too much! - I'm 24 years old and have been working in various wish-washy jobs since I left high school. I left with really poor grades, despite being promising in primary school and my earlier years of high school. After a series of really, really, really bad decisions, I left school with poor GCSEs that I regret every day.

I spend a lot of free time on computers and they're always something that has come very naturally to me. I enjoy using them and would love to work in the IT field in some manner. However, due to my bad grades and lack of qualifications, this has never been a possibility.

I recently decided that I'd like to change this and made the decision to enroll with the OU on this BSc Honours Computing and IT course. I'd like to work through it and specialize in networking and become qualified with Cisco.

I'll be honest, the prospect of this degree makes me very excited but also very nervous. I've lived my entire adult life as an underachiever, so the chance to turn this all around really inspires me. I'm just anxious about re-entering education after all these years. I feel like I'm capable. The anxiety just won't go away. I did their TU100 test and that seemed pretty basic. Not sure whether that was an accurate representation of the module.

I got a C in GCSE maths and haven't done anything on the subject since. I'm not sure whether I should take Discovering Mathematics or Essential Mathematics. From reading the prospectus, it seems Discovering is more basic. Is this the case?

Anyways, I applied for my loan today. I registered for the October start date. Fingers crossed, I get it. I'm really nervous about it all and not sure what to expect.

Good luck to all you guys also taking it. Maybe I'll speak to some of you on the student forum or something.
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Urist
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(Original post by dko)
Hey guys,

I made an account just to post in this thread!

Let me just take a sec to explain my situation, without boring you all too much! - I'm 24 years old and have been working in various wish-washy jobs since I left high school. I left with really poor grades, despite being promising in primary school and my earlier years of high school. After a series of really, really, really bad decisions, I left school with poor GCSEs that I regret every day.

I spend a lot of free time on computers and they're always something that has come very naturally to me. I enjoy using them and would love to work in the IT field in some manner. However, due to my bad grades and lack of qualifications, this has never been a possibility.

I recently decided that I'd like to change this and made the decision to enroll with the OU on this BSc Honours Computing and IT course. I'd like to work through it and specialize in networking and become qualified with Cisco.

I'll be honest, the prospect of this degree makes me very excited but also very nervous. I've lived my entire adult life as an underachiever, so the chance to turn this all around really inspires me. I'm just anxious about re-entering education after all these years. I feel like I'm capable. The anxiety just won't go away. I did their TU100 test and that seemed pretty basic. Not sure whether that was an accurate representation of the module.

I got a C in GCSE maths and haven't done anything on the subject since. I'm not sure whether I should take Discovering Mathematics or Essential Mathematics. From reading the prospectus, it seems Discovering is more basic. Is this the case?

Anyways, I applied for my loan today. I registered for the October start date. Fingers crossed, I get it. I'm really nervous about it all and not sure what to expect.

Good luck to all you guys also taking it. Maybe I'll speak to some of you on the student forum or something.
Discovering Mathematics (MU123) is more basic, yeah. You only have to do one or the other for your degree, anyway, so you'll be fine.

I'd happily speak to you on the Student Forum, and you can have Skype, Steam, email, etc. details if you want to contact me.

Maybe it'd help with your anxiety to start getting used to distance learning? Try some MOOCs on platforms like Futurelearn or Udacity; Udacity in particular has excellent programming/computer science courses in various programming languages.

Good luck with your studies!
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dko
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(Original post by Urist)
Discovering Mathematics (MU123) is more basic, yeah. You only have to do one or the other for your degree, anyway, so you'll be fine.

I'd happily speak to you on the Student Forum, and you can have Skype, Steam, email, etc. details if you want to contact me.

Maybe it'd help with your anxiety to start getting used to distance learning? Try some MOOCs on platforms like Futurelearn or Udacity; Udacity in particular has excellent programming/computer science courses in various programming languages.

Good luck with your studies!
Thanks for the reply!

I was aware you are only required to complete one of the Mathematics modules, I just wasn't sure which would be best. I think I'll go with Discovering.

I will have a look at those and see if I can find anything suitable. Thanks!

Good luck to you too.
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dmb90
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Hi guys, I realise this thread is old and feel free to delete or ignore.

I just wanted to see how the course was going for you? I've signed up (start Oct 1st) for the Computing and IT course, starting with TU100, MU123 and TM129. I'm looking forward to it, but having seen some of the negative comments on this thread regarding tutor responses I just wanted to see if there are still issues to be aware of...?

And are you still enjoying the course? I've squashed the course down to a 3 year study, finished my job and going to be at it full time from home (with the odd bit of freelancing). Any advice for motivation?

Thanks
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DarkMoon99
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Hey dmb90,Can you please tell me how TU100 was, and are you still continuing with Computing and IT? How has the quality of the IT modules been overall?
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