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Open University STEM Watch

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    Hello,
    I'm a mature student, in work, studying a BEng with The Open Uni part time.

    I am in my 4th year (so second if it was full time). I've been working in Engineering for the past 6 years and have now really realised this career choice isn't for me, and have no drive for the job.
    I do enjoy the study, however if I receive a degree in Engineering I am not sure where I am going to head with it.
    I've always 'wished' I'd studied something involved with medicine, or medical research, and the Open Uni now offer what they call the STEM degree (R28) which is a bachelor of science.
    They would let me transfer all credits I have achieved in Engineering, and I've considered doing this and taking biology modules for example. My problem with this is basically how relevant this degree is. The Open Uni's qualifications are so broad, especially this one, and I have always been reassured their degrees are somewhat respected despite it not being a traditional brick university.
    Am I likely to finish this degree and have no route whatsoever into biomedical research or medical sciences, or would it even set me up for anything post grad to pursue a career in this sector?

    Thanks for any info or advice!
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    While I can't comment on the relative merits of an OU qualification specifically, in general numerate bioscience researchers are something of a rarity and quantitative methods are increasingly being developed and used in that area. Thus, having a biological background but with the benefit of basic engineering maths/physics would be a pretty useful thing, and you could probably parlay that into a PhD somewhere.

    For medicine, you can apply to GEM with any degree, provided you get excellent marks. Bioscience isn't a necessity although it does increase your options, and probably makes the initial leap into the course slightly softer on landing. Normally they require A-level Chemistry and often Biology if you haven't taken it, although a number will waive this requirement if you can demonstrate that you've covered content in your degree which is comparable.

    Outside of medicine as a profession, and research, it may be a bit more limiting. All the bioscience sector jobs I've seen have specifically been lab based, and the primary prerequisite is normally lab experience in relevant techniques and settings - which is normally provided by the degree. However you may not be able to get a suitable amount of experience in this way from an OU course, even with residential labs, compared to conventional uni students who will have labs every week normally, and potentially some periods of more intense lab time. You might want to consider if you can transfer to e.g. one of Birkbecks related courses, which normally have evening/weekend hours I believe, and may allow you more lab experience. This might affect your SFE entitlement however, so I would recommend very carefully exploring the possibility before going for it.

    A taught masters with a lab based project might be suitable for progressing in that area after you complete an OU course however, so that's an option.
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    Wow thank you for the very informative reply, honestly has helped me so much.
    I also have looked into applying for a masters and following medical imagery (radiology/radiography). I think it would be suited to my degree too, I've emailed some Universities about the two year courses they offer, and am waiting for the results so we'll see.
    Thanks again
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    (Original post by epj1991)
    Wow thank you for the very informative reply, honestly has helped me so much.
    I also have looked into applying for a masters and following medical imagery (radiology/radiography). I think it would be suited to my degree too, I've emailed some Universities about the two year courses they offer, and am waiting for the results so we'll see.
    Thanks again
    You may want to refer to this page, which has some basic information about pursuing a career in radiography and the ways to do so.

    It's worth noting Radiology and Radiography are different professions - Radiology is a medical specialty, requiring an MBBS or equivalent and completion of foundation training to pursue. Radiography is an allied health profession, and the requirements are detailed mostly on the site linked above.

    There are also roles in medical imaging besides those, on the technical and engineering side, as well as academic research in the area. So there are quite a few different paths to pursue in that realm
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    I've just had a look, and it seems Radiography courses are on the list of courses funded by SFE as a second degree - so it may be less of an immediate financial burden to complete your degree at the OU and then progress to that course, if you so wish (although of course your debt will be higher, you won't need to pay out of pocket potentially for one or more years of the course, which may be case if you switch course immediately).

    Since you would need to complete a course to apply to GEM, then you may want to complete your OU course and then you have both options as possibilities to pursue, if you find you prefer one to the other for some reason based on e.g. work experience/shadowing/placements or otherwise that you manage to arrange, or just through research. However it'd probably be inadvisable to pursue e.g. your current course, then Radiography, THEN a GEM course
 
 
 
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