Studying Maths degree at the Open University...advise needed :)Watch
I am preparing to return to university in September to start a Maths degree with the Open University. Its not my first degree so I am confident I'd be able to work on it full time and hopefully complete it in 3 or 4 years.
I have spoken to the OU and they have been helpful but I'd really like to get the perspective of a student studying the course Q31 or similar.
Its the nitty gritty stuff I'm wondering about, like which year you found hardest, how does the degree compare to a standard uni degree in terms of tutorial/lecture hours, how accessible were the tutors when you got stuck and any other pitfalls or important things I should be aware of?
To get a true picture of what to expect and to be ready for, theres nothing like the experience of someone who has been there )
Hi, I have been studying the past 4 years full-time with the OU and am finishing my BSc(hons) Mathematics this June. The degree has been great, I have really enjoyed it. It starts out a bit slow in the first year (unless you haven't done A-levels then it may be fast from the get-go) and increases drastically in difficulty year on year as they need to play "catch up" to brick Uni's that have A-levels as entrance requirements and thus can start further ahead in the material compared to the OU. By the end of level 3 you will have the equivelent knowledge to pretty much any maths undergrad in the country outside of the top 3-4 schools where many undergrads take some graduate level maths modules in their final years. To answer your questions exactly:
"which year you found hardest" - Level 3 by far, currently taking M303 Further Pure Mathematics, M337 Complex Analysis and MT365 Graphs, Networks and Design. M303 is an extremely rigorous and difficult module that sets the stage for graduate level mathematics with a major focus on proofs.
"how does the degree compare to a standard uni degree in terms of tutorial/lecture hours" - full-time is the same everywhere I imagine and the OU is no different. I put in a solid 40-45 hours a week to stay on top of the workload.
"how accessible were the tutors when you got stuck and any other pitfalls or important things I should be aware of?" - the maths tutors have for the most part been extremely competent and helping. There have been 1 or 2 that I haven't had the best time with but they don't tend to stick around with the OU very long due to student satisfaction reports at the end of each module. As for pitfalls, just be prepared to work. University level maths is one of, if not the most difficult undergraduate degrees in terms of workload and sheer overall abstract difficulty.
Overall, well worth it and plenty of options to continue study afterwards on a masters degree with the OU or a brick uni. Good luck!
Thank you so much for your reply and congratulations!! I bet you can't wait for June to come
When you said "40-45 hours a week", well...that has scared me! I was hoping it would be 30-35 max. I wonder, did you also study that many hours throughout the summer break, or just the academic year? I'm hoping to continue my studies through the summer (using the good old internet and some books from a friend of a friend who did a degree in Maths a while back) to try to keep on top of things!
Its a shame the level of difficulty changes so rapidly in level 3, I always think that kind of thing is very unfair on students but since you've warned me, I can try to get more done early to bridge to gap..hopefully!
Did you have to attend many live tutorials/lectures? The reason I ask is my work schedule is not regular, and although I'll have plenty time to study every day, it would be difficult for me to attend daily of weekly live sessions at specific times. Recordings would suit me a lot better.
Sorry to come back with even more questions...I'm just a bit overwhelmed. I'm hoping to start in October this year, and so started studying at home September last year to brush up as much as possible. Ideally, I'd like to complete each stage in a year so that I can go on to do a post grad in teaching...but considering the hours you've mentioned...I'm probably not being realistic...even if I do study over the summer break!
It must feel amazing to be where you are and to have the bulk of the work behind you. Have you any idea what you'd like to do once your finished? Maybe teaching or working in a certain industry?
Hey, not a problem at all, happy to help! I had a ton of questions myself when I started and nobody really to ask so I understand completely.
40-45 hours is for level 3 but you can definitely get away with less at level 1 and 2. I would say for level 1 I was only putting in roughly 25 hours a week since I took IB in high school and had actually met quite a lot of the material previously. Level 2 was a solid 30-35 hours a week and level 3 is definitely a full 40 if you want to actually understand the material and keep up with the workload with the intention of finishing with a first or a strong 2.1 overall. I have always taken the summers off from school completely and just studied the standard October-June.
I try to attend the live tutorials when I can but luckily in the maths department all of the tutorials are recorded so you are free to watch them whenever (although on the rare occasion a tutor will forget to push the recording button which is a major pain in the ass but luckily doesn't happen often).
It does definitely feel amazing, 4 years flies by but I have no intention of slowing down. I have applied to a few different masters programme for this fall and so far have been accepted to all of them so will be continuing on with my studies in graduate school and hopefully a PhD after the masters. My goal is to get into research and although it's extremely competitive perhaps a Professor. Luckily maths has a ton of well paying exit options into industrial jobs should I bail out along the way. I've become really interested in something called geophysical fluid dynamics which is an area of mathematical physics pertaining to large scale geophysical flows like in the atmosphere and the oceans. There is a ton of beautiful open problems and research directions in fluid dynamics so it should be fun! If you have any other questions don't be a stranger, I am around occasionally and will check in. Best of luck!
I've been getting some more information about the course modules and I need to do a good bit more research before I'm sure I can go ahead in October, but you really have been very helpful...and I may well, pop back for some more advise once I know a little more.
The workload is definitely going to be a juggling act for me but I can buy some course materials on ebay (or from someone whos done the course) and continue studying throughout the summer...I'd have to really with my work commitments. Need to look into the pros and cons of that too.
Thanks again for your guidance and all the best for your future studies
For alternative reasons I am considering registering for the OU maths bachelors around 20/21. I was wondering if you'll be O.K. answering a few questions about your reasons to go into and how you're preparing prior to starting, perhaps in private message?
Seen as we're talking Math's degree's at OU, I thought I jump in here. I've worked in industry for 10 years now doing all sorts of technical jobs, mostly related to Software Development or Systems Engineering. I have an MEng Degree in Computer Engineering, so I have past experience of doing Mathematics at A-level (nearly 20 years ago) and Engineering Mathematics at undergraduate-level. I'm looking to toughen up my Statistics skills and General Mathematics along the way. I'm currently refreshing my A-level mathematical and statistics knowledge over the next two years during full-time employment, and in 2019 or 2020 start a postgraduate mathematics or related course. - The question Is MSc Mathematics or BSc Mathematics the next step?