OU Science -Where can it take you? Watch

von_tégan
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Hi there,

Considering doing either Natural Sciences or the Maths and Physics degree at the Open University.

Just wondering if anyone here has done a Science degree with the open university and what they have ended up doing following that.

For example, is it a common occurrence for OU Science graduates to end up doing further study at a traditional university or end up doing Scientific research? I can't seem to find any statistics on this.

I'm thinking you must be able to do less or no lab work if you're at the OU and that may hinder you if you want to do research. What have people's experiences been?

I would appreciate any firsthand experience people have. Thanks!
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LuigiMario
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I did science wet lab work at a week's residence when the OU took over Reading University campus during the Summer holiday.
I never quite finished the OU Science degree, but it did help my work. There were quite a few experiments to do at home in a kit.

OU must have many testimonies on their website?(*) Personally I attended saturday schools with an OU study group in Den Haag for a year. There were housewives, pensioners, ESA (euro space agency) engineers, other research workers. People doing OU science degree for fun, for life-long learning or for advancement in their industry. Some teething troubles, one of our tutors 'disappeared' - taking a month's work & hard writ assignments with him, never was explained, we never got credits for that - but the OU did make some allowances.

Certainly, after doing the correct number of Bologna ECTS points(**) with the OU, I'm absolutely certain that you'd find any number of traditional universities would accept you for a Masters' top-up, why not at Exeter or Cardiff of the Russel Group!

(*) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...versity_people [2 million names, some famous]
(**) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bologna_Process [harmonisation of European Degrees]
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-Eirlys-
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(Original post by von_tégan)
Hi there,

Considering doing either Natural Sciences or the Maths and Physics degree at the Open University.

Just wondering if anyone here has done a Science degree with the open university and what they have ended up doing following that.

For example, is it a common occurrence for OU Science graduates to end up doing further study at a traditional university or end up doing Scientific research? I can't seem to find any statistics on this.

I'm thinking you must be able to do less or no lab work if you're at the OU and that may hinder you if you want to do research. What have people's experiences been?

I would appreciate any firsthand experience people have. Thanks!
I believe they have day schools, probably more so during a masters or postgrad to allow for lab work.
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SuperCat007
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(Original post by von_tégan)
Hi there,

Considering doing either Natural Sciences or the Maths and Physics degree at the Open University.

Just wondering if anyone here has done a Science degree with the open university and what they have ended up doing following that.

For example, is it a common occurrence for OU Science graduates to end up doing further study at a traditional university or end up doing Scientific research? I can't seem to find any statistics on this.

I'm thinking you must be able to do less or no lab work if you're at the OU and that may hinder you if you want to do research. What have people's experiences been?

I would appreciate any firsthand experience people have. Thanks!
The great thing about the OU is that you can get a lab based job whilst studying and doing an OU degree will help you with this. Bad thing is that there’s no lab experience included in the degree. They are putting on week long lab skills schools which are an additional cost and there are companies like BioGrad who offer this kind of training too.

When hiring graduates I am never put off by an OU grad with no lab experience if I’m hiring for an entry level job. The self study and organisational skills you learn in an OU degree are something other new grad lack so often OU grads are a breath of fresh air to train.

I wouldn't let it put put you off. If you have a post grad course in mind you could always email the admissions dept and ask the question. But basic lab skills are covered in a lot of masters courses as well to make sure everyone is at the same level.
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von_tégan
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(Original post by LuigiMario)
I did science wet lab work at a week's residence when the OU took over Reading University campus during the Summer holiday.
I never quite finished the OU Science degree, but it did help my work. There were quite a few experiments to do at home in a kit.

OU must have many testimonies on their website?(*) Personally I attended saturday schools with an OU study group in Den Haag for a year. There were housewives, pensioners, ESA (euro space agency) engineers, other research workers. People doing OU science degree for fun, for life-long learning or for advancement in their industry. Some teething troubles, one of our tutors 'disappeared' - taking a month's work & hard writ assignments with him, never was explained, we never got credits for that - but the OU did make some allowances.

Certainly, after doing the correct number of Bologna ECTS points(**) with the OU, I'm absolutely certain that you'd find any number of traditional universities would accept you for a Masters' top-up, why not at Exeter or Cardiff of the Russel Group!

(*) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...versity_people [2 million names, some famous]
(**) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bologna_Process [harmonisation of European Degrees]
Hi there, thanks for your response.
What science course were you doing at the OU? And why do you think you didn't complete it? Would you attribute that to the university itself or was it for other reasons?
I am sorry to hear about your tutor 'disappearing', that sounds so frustrating.
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von_tégan
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(Original post by SuperCat007)
The great thing about the OU is that you can get a lab based job whilst studying and doing an OU degree will help you with this. Bad thing is that there’s no lab experience included in the degree. They are putting on week long lab skills schools which are an additional cost and there are companies like BioGrad who offer this kind of training too.

When hiring graduates I am never put off by an OU grad with no lab experience if I’m hiring for an entry level job. The self study and organisational skills you learn in an OU degree are something other new grad lack so often OU grads are a breath of fresh air to train.

I wouldn't let it put put you off. If you have a post grad course in mind you could always email the admissions dept and ask the question. But basic lab skills are covered in a lot of masters courses as well to make sure everyone is at the same level.
Many thanks for your input. Just to understand where your perspective is coming from, do you higher for lab work or other kinds of work? I'm interested to see the perspectives of people working in laboratories/research on the open university.
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SuperCat007
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(Original post by von_tégan)
Many thanks for your input. Just to understand where your perspective is coming from, do you higher for lab work or other kinds of work? I'm interested to see the perspectives of people working in laboratories/research on the open university.
Lab work. I’m a lab manager. I worked my way up from lab tech to manager whilst studying with the OU.

Most jobs will say they want a masters, PhD and 500 years experience. But most are being unrealistic for the actual job. Get some decent experience under your belt whilst you’re studying and it’ll stand you in really good stead once you graduate.
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LuigiMario
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I work for a European research Institute on hard scientific work, contributing as a key member in a department that writes full paragraphs in The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports. Quite revolutionary work really, you can't believe how much our life is going to change...., I haven't quite got my full degree yet - OU has helped me in lifelong learning , I might invest some time in finishing it. That's another great thing, you are in control.

I also do lab work, calibrating a CAS Crossed-Czerny-Turner spectrometer last week, I also hosted hundreds of TEDx visitors to my lab at night, don't know what will happen next week, maybe one of the four indoor solar simulators will need something!

"Where can it take you?" = no limit
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von_tégan
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(Original post by LuigiMario)
I work for a European research Institute on hard scientific work, contributing as a key member in a department that writes full paragraphs in The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports. Quite revolutionary work really, you can't believe how much our life is going to change...., I haven't quite got my full degree yet - OU has helped me in lifelong learning , I might invest some time in finishing it. That's another great thing, you are in control.

I also do lab work, calibrating a CAS Crossed-Czerny-Turner spectrometer last week, I also hosted hundreds of TEDx visitors to my lab at night, don't know what will happen next week, maybe one of the four indoor solar simulators will need something!

"Where can it take you?" = no limit
That sounds awesome, well done. And you did all this even without finishing the degree yet?! So it was enough just to tell the employers that you had started the OU degree? I take it you did chemistry or natural sciences?
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von_tégan
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(Original post by SuperCat007)
Lab work. I’m a lab manager. I worked my way up from lab tech to manager whilst studying with the OU.

Most jobs will say they want a masters, PhD and 500 years experience. But most are being unrealistic for the actual job. Get some decent experience under your belt whilst you’re studying and it’ll stand you in really good stead once you graduate.
Thank you for your reply and well done on your accomplishments! So am I right in thinking you got the extra responsibility whilst studying at the OU so it wasn't even as if having the finished degree was a prerequisite for the extra responsibility you took on?
Yes, I have often found that certain jobs can be extremely specific about what they want in a candidate - for example I have seen that many Technology jobs specify you must have a computer science or at least a STEM degree to get the job, but actually I wonder whether they are actually more flexible when it comes down to it. I have been advised by the older and wiser that often job requirements aren't really job requirements - if you demonstrate passion and relevant experience then you stand a strong chance of getting the job.
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marinade
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I ended up (straight after) starting a PhD at a redbrick. However, I wouldn't causally link the two events. I met a number of people who went on to do PGCEs. Some become OU tutors. A recent tutor is now on a PhD at a redbrick.

Are your questions answerable in a meaningful way? Many people have prior attainment so I would say it's fairly meaningless.

Your question about what students end up doing is very difficult to answer because for me there are three groups of students - the lurkers, the gushers and the for the hell of its. The lurkers you never hear from so impossible to gauge. The gushers say the sun shine's out of the OU's arse, often very interesting people who really love OU study, often in very interesting low-mid level jobs before/during OU study, supportive employers and are wanting to go higher up or move on. The for the hell of its contrary to myth weren't all people in their 50s, 60s and 70s, it was often in their 20s, 30s and maybe 40s.

My advice on the lab opportunities would be if you study with the OU is get onto careers service and they can point you very quickly to the lab experiences above people are talking about. There are some virtual lab exercises hidden on the website and bits hidden in OU modules.

I did have an interview for a entry level position in a prestigious lab in the autumn, I got cained on the interview on having no 'real' experience. This was after many lab job interviews in the past I got turned down for. So I ended up working in a supermarket and then a pharmacy on minimum wage. I would say this is quite unusual for OU students as although I met people on income support, I rarely met anyone on minimum wage. I wanted to work in a lab and never achieved this. Lab work is very competitive and many PhD students are after it, so I would follow the stuff others are saying otherwise you may never achieve it. If you get a Maths/Physics/Natural Sciences degree I would say there are many more exciting opportunities available than lab which is highly competitive and low paid and may be automated anyway.
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von_tégan
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(Original post by marinade)

I did have an interview for a entry level position in a prestigious lab in the autumn, I got cained on the interview on having no 'real' experience. This was after many lab job interviews in the past I got turned down for. So I ended up working in a supermarket and then a pharmacy on minimum wage. I would say this is quite unusual for OU students as although I met people on income support, I rarely met anyone on minimum wage. I wanted to work in a lab and never achieved this. Lab work is very competitive and many PhD students are after it, so I would follow the stuff others are saying otherwise you may never achieve it. If you get a Maths/Physics/Natural Sciences degree I would say there are many more exciting opportunities available than lab which is highly competitive and low paid and may be automated anyway.
Yeah, I get that people can have other assets such as prior experience or qualifications, I guess I'm just considering where the OU science degree can take you vs a traditional university science degree. And sure there must be people in a variety of positions at the OU.
What are you doing the phd in and what was the OU degree you did? And what does the phd involve? In any case doing a phd is pretty exciting.
Fair comment about labs, I guess in general I'm wondering about posts where you'd be researching something in an experimental way. What sort of exciting opportunities do you refer to when you say these are more exciting than lab work?
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marinade
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I don't think there's much difference where it can take you. The question I would be asking yourself whether Maths/Physics/Natural Sciences is the right area for you. Having said that the OU are imho pretty hopeless compared to redbricks at encouraging further study outside of the OU. This seems all the stranger when often the tutors are people with two jobs at different unis, so they know MORE and not less about all this stuff. All the advice I got about applying for a PhD was from a postdoc at another institution. There was a thing run by the OU where two PhD students in science in labs were answering questions, but I found the experience a very odd and uninformative one, even though everyone involved was very nice and well motivated. You'd find out more going down the local pub and finding a PhD student and asking them.

I wouldn't worry about what people think of the OU. If you're moving institutions you'll always go through these processes of them 'checking you out'. In terms of OU cuts, the OU have jacked the fees up and axed the face to face tutorials/lab weeks etc. Pay more, get less. I wouldn't personally advise someone who is 18 to go the OU unless their heart is set on working and doing it on the side. That's sad having to say that.

As others have said the OU has a level of independence which can be quite different to other institutions. Particularly amusing/jawdropping to other people can be the discussions you have about 'supervision' for an OU project vs a bricks and mortar when applying for a PhD. So you never met your supervisor? Nope. So you e-mailed them? Yes. So you must have had a lot of e-mails. Nope, I can count on my fingers the number over 9 months.

Lab work, the problem is the world changes. You know the stereotypes people have of you are a clever person, no social skills, 'passionate' about learning, that sort of thing - yeah go and work in a lab. Problem with basic run of the mill lab work is everyone wants to do it. Everyone. The people who advised me to do lab work were baby boomers or gen X-ers who worked their way up and didn't have to get fancy degrees and loads of experience. The world's changed a lot now, those people probably wouldn't even get hired these days. It's all a far cry from years ago where I know someone with two Gs at GCSE who managed to land an entry level job in a decent lab. It's now standard to have a degree + experience for the same one.
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Davidswift9
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I completed BSc Physics with the institute of physics accreditation route. I now work in the space sector in satellite design. Started it at 26 and finished at 30. Had zero engineering experience before it. Got the job before I even finished it. On a good wage and now have a better life.
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