What should I expect from a full time BSc Computing & IT course? Watch

creedz98
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I'm thinking about applying for October as I'm 21 years old and regret not doing better in my A-levels to get into a normal uni. Is it the same workload as a normal uni degree or would I expect to work more? I've also seen some people say to avoid some modules, can anyone specify which ones they are? I'm not really sure how the whole module system works so can anyone explain it a bit further? Thank you.
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JollyCynic
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The total workload throughout the entire degree is on par with what you might experience at a conventional university. One of the largest differences is that you will only have your own motivation to do that work. Some people flourish with the lack of imposed structure, and others find it very difficult to maintain focus and enthusiasm. In early modules, the work load is fairly light, but it ramps up considerably at each new stage (or year, as you'll be studying with a full time study intensity).

Some modules are better and more useful than others, so be clear on what you want to achieve, though you don't really have to worry about it until choosing modules for stage two. The one I'd definitely avoid is "TM254 Managing IT: the why, the what and the how". The things taught are useful things in the UK, though often quite dry. But the materials provided by the OU are unreadable, contradictory, alternatingly vague and overly technical, and just plain soul-wearingly boring. The structure is poor and takes about twice as long to study as other modules of the same stage and credits. The assessment of work is likewise a shambles, with many questions on TMAs equating to, "What word am I thinking of?" and a question on the exam which was unanswerable from the materials provided. It is, however, an easy pass due to the results strategy. (It may not be easy to attain a distinction, but nobody's found out what their results are, yet.) This is based on the inaugural presentation, but I don't see how the module can be fixed short of a total materials rewrite.

As to the module system, an honours degree course is made up of 360 credits, 120 each at stages 1, 2, and 3. Stages are equivalent to years at a conventional university. As you'll be studying at a full-time intensity, it will be 120 credits per year. These credits are made up of modules that are available to take at each stage for that course, each worth either 30 or 60 credits, currently. So each year you'll study either two 60 credit modules, one 60 credit module and two 30 credit modules, or four 30 credit modules. (In Computing & IT, they're all 30 credit modules right now.) Modules typically last 8 months, and are taken concurrently when studied full time.

For Computing & IT, the first stage is a little bit different. You'll take two modules concurrently between October and May/June: "TM129 Technologies in practice" and a maths module, either MU123 or MST124 (basically A-levels maths). From October to March, you'll be taking TM111 alongside those other two. In April, you'll start TM112, which will last through to September, so from June to September you'll only be taking TM112. Then you'll start your second year in October with only a few weeks break. The advantage, though, is that your recommended study time will never increase above 24 to 27 hours, whereas it would be 32 to 36 hours if TM112 were taken concurrently with the others. (It is possible to ask the OU to grant permission to take TM112 concurrently with TM111, but you'll have to satisfy them that you have a sufficient background of understanding in the field, first.)
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creedz98
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(Original post by JollyCynic)
The total workload throughout the entire degree is on par with what you might experience at a conventional university. One of the largest differences is that you will only have your own motivation to do that work. Some people flourish with the lack of imposed structure, and others find it very difficult to maintain focus and enthusiasm. In early modules, the work load is fairly light, but it ramps up considerably at each new stage (or year, as you'll be studying with a full time study intensity).

Some modules are better and more useful than others, so be clear on what you want to achieve, though you don't really have to worry about it until choosing modules for stage two. The one I'd definitely avoid is "TM254 Managing IT: the why, the what and the how". The things taught are useful things in the UK, though often quite dry. But the materials provided by the OU are unreadable, contradictory, alternatingly vague and overly technical, and just plain soul-wearingly boring. The structure is poor and takes about twice as long to study as other modules of the same stage and credits. The assessment of work is likewise a shambles, with many questions on TMAs equating to, "What word am I thinking of?" and a question on the exam which was unanswerable from the materials provided. It is, however, an easy pass due to the results strategy. (It may not be easy to attain a distinction, but nobody's found out what their results are, yet.) This is based on the inaugural presentation, but I don't see how the module can be fixed short of a total materials rewrite.

As to the module system, an honours degree course is made up of 360 credits, 120 each at stages 1, 2, and 3. Stages are equivalent to years at a conventional university. As you'll be studying at a full-time intensity, it will be 120 credits per year. These credits are made up of modules that are available to take at each stage for that course, each worth either 30 or 60 credits, currently. So each year you'll study either two 60 credit modules, one 60 credit module and two 30 credit modules, or four 30 credit modules. (In Computing & IT, they're all 30 credit modules right now.) Modules typically last 8 months, and are taken concurrently when studied full time.

For Computing & IT, the first stage is a little bit different. You'll take two modules concurrently between October and May/June: "TM129 Technologies in practice" and a maths module, either MU123 or MST124 (basically A-levels maths). From October to March, you'll be taking TM111 alongside those other two. In April, you'll start TM112, which will last through to September, so from June to September you'll only be taking TM112. Then you'll start your second year in October with only a few weeks break. The advantage, though, is that your recommended study time will never increase above 24 to 27 hours, whereas it would be 32 to 36 hours if TM112 were taken concurrently with the others. (It is possible to ask the OU to grant permission to take TM112 concurrently with TM111, but you'll have to satisfy them that you have a sufficient background of understanding in the field, first.)
Thank you for your reply. Regarding the Math modules, how difficult are they? Especially for someone who only got a C in GCSE Maths.
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JollyCynic
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(Original post by creedz98)
Thank you for your reply. Regarding the Math modules, how difficult are they? Especially for someone who only got a C in GCSE Maths.
MU123 is easy. (I hope I don't offend anybody by saying that if they found it particularly tricky. I do personally know some bright people who did find it considerably more challenging than they though they would.) If maths intimidates you, there's nothing wrong with this one. It does a nice job of covering a lot of groundwork maths. It has a smooth learning curve, and there's no exam at the end.

MST124 is hard. (Similarly, for someone who's had A-levels maths, it would seem quite easy.) It's also the most rewarding module I've done with the OU, by a wide margin. I don't have any GCSEs, so I prepared for this on Khan Academy the summer before the module started. It takes a lot of work and dedication, but it's extremely well presented.

You can check out the OU's website for help in deciding: http://mathschoices.open.ac.uk/ and specifically the Are You Ready For quizzes: http://mathschoices.open.ac.uk/are-you-ready-quizzes . Again, I didn't do very well on the AYRF MST124 quiz the first time, but was definitely prepared by the time I started thanks to commitment and Khan Academy.
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creedz98
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(Original post by JollyCynic)
The total workload throughout the entire degree is on par with what you might experience at a conventional university. One of the largest differences is that you will only have your own motivation to do that work. Some people flourish with the lack of imposed structure, and others find it very difficult to maintain focus and enthusiasm. In early modules, the work load is fairly light, but it ramps up considerably at each new stage (or year, as you'll be studying with a full time study intensity).

Some modules are better and more useful than others, so be clear on what you want to achieve, though you don't really have to worry about it until choosing modules for stage two. The one I'd definitely avoid is "TM254 Managing IT: the why, the what and the how". The things taught are useful things in the UK, though often quite dry. But the materials provided by the OU are unreadable, contradictory, alternatingly vague and overly technical, and just plain soul-wearingly boring. The structure is poor and takes about twice as long to study as other modules of the same stage and credits. The assessment of work is likewise a shambles, with many questions on TMAs equating to, "What word am I thinking of?" and a question on the exam which was unanswerable from the materials provided. It is, however, an easy pass due to the results strategy. (It may not be easy to attain a distinction, but nobody's found out what their results are, yet.) This is based on the inaugural presentation, but I don't see how the module can be fixed short of a total materials rewrite.

As to the module system, an honours degree course is made up of 360 credits, 120 each at stages 1, 2, and 3. Stages are equivalent to years at a conventional university. As you'll be studying at a full-time intensity, it will be 120 credits per year. These credits are made up of modules that are available to take at each stage for that course, each worth either 30 or 60 credits, currently. So each year you'll study either two 60 credit modules, one 60 credit module and two 30 credit modules, or four 30 credit modules. (In Computing & IT, they're all 30 credit modules right now.) Modules typically last 8 months, and are taken concurrently when studied full time.

For Computing & IT, the first stage is a little bit different. You'll take two modules concurrently between October and May/June: "TM129 Technologies in practice" and a maths module, either MU123 or MST124 (basically A-levels maths). From October to March, you'll be taking TM111 alongside those other two. In April, you'll start TM112, which will last through to September, so from June to September you'll only be taking TM112. Then you'll start your second year in October with only a few weeks break. The advantage, though, is that your recommended study time will never increase above 24 to 27 hours, whereas it would be 32 to 36 hours if TM112 were taken concurrently with the others. (It is possible to ask the OU to grant permission to take TM112 concurrently with TM111, but you'll have to satisfy them that you have a sufficient background of understanding in the field, first.)
I'm looking at the module selection and they recommend to take TM129 from February as you need to learn some parts of TM111 to be able to understand parts of TM129. Should I take TM129 from February instead of taking it from October along with TM111 and the maths module?
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JollyCynic
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I'd look at course load. Let's hope this message board supports tables.



Oct NovDecJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSep
TM129 in Oct 333333331-3111
TM129 in Feb222233332-3222


Hey, look at that. It does. Who knew? (You really just sit around waiting on results for modules ending in June.)

Anyway, you can see that not only does taking TM129 spread out work a bit more, but it gives you a gentler start to uni. The computer-related things that TM111 will teach that you need for TM129 aren't major. If you've written a game in any language, even Scratch, you probably have all you need. But it does get you up to speed in things like academic study, which might be useful before starting TM129.
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creedz98
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(Original post by JollyCynic)
I'd look at course load. Let's hope this message board supports tables.











































Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep
TM129 in Oct 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 1-3 1 1 1
TM129 in Feb 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 2-3 2 2 2


Hey, look at that. It does. Who knew? (You really just sit around waiting on results for modules ending in June.)

Anyway, you can see that not only does taking TM129 spread out work a bit more, but it gives you a gentler start to uni. The computer-related things that TM111 will teach that you need for TM129 aren't major. If you've written a game in any language, even Scratch, you probably have all you need. But it does get you up to speed in things like academic study, which might be useful before starting TM129.
From your experience how hard is this degree? Especially for someone who hasn't been in education in over 3 years. And did you find this degree rewarding? I've seen someone comment that this degree doesn't give you the 'skills' for the real world. Although their comment was made a few years ago and things might've changed since. Also I've seen comments that the resources provided by the OU aren't always that great, although I have also seen reviews that say otherwise. It seems students either have a great experience or a really bad one, no inbetween. I'm planning to leave my full time job to do this degree and work somewhere else part-time. I want the degree, I just don't want to be in a position a year in where I am regretting my decision studying with the OU because of reasons some people have stated.
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JollyCynic
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(Original post by creedz98)
From your experience how hard is this degree? Especially for someone who hasn't been in education in over 3 years. And did you find this degree rewarding? I've seen someone comment that this degree doesn't give you the 'skills' for the real world. Although their comment was made a few years ago and things might've changed since. Also I've seen comments that the resources provided by the OU aren't always that great, although I have also seen reviews that say otherwise. It seems students either have a great experience or a really bad one, no inbetween. I'm planning to leave my full time job to do this degree and work somewhere else part-time. I want the degree, I just don't want to be in a position a year in where I am regretting my decision studying with the OU because of reasons some people have stated.
It's difficult to come up with a non-sarcastic reply to a post that includes the phrase, "Especially for someone who hasn't been in education in over 3 years." But I'll do my best. As a disclaimer, I'm only halfway through the degree course, left school early, and have been working in the industry for the last twenty years. I'm not doing the degree for career purposes, so my perspective may be invalid relative to yours.

This is the Open University. Most of the people you'll be studying with measure their time out of school in decades, not years. You can assume with some certainty that your 3 year hiatus will not disadvantage you relative to other students.

It's as easy or as challenging as you make it. It's as rewarding or useless as you make it. It's your degree, your time, your study. If you work really hard for a really good result, that's pretty much worth the same as just doing the minimum necessary to get a parchment at the end. It misses the point of what university study is about.

You have to be extremely clear about specifically what you want to come away with. The most common complaint of graduates from any computing, computer science, or software engineering degree (from any university) is that they didn't learn an industry standard programming language to a professional level. You won't find a prospectus anywhere that makes that kind of promise. If you want to learn a programming language, buy a book and start coding. You're wasting your time and money (and a LOT of effort) going to university just to learn a language that will be obsolete in a few years.

By the end of a degree course, you should understand how computers can be used to solve different types of problems. You should be able to design a plan to use computers to solve those problems logically, and evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of different plans against each other. Most importantly, you should develop skills allowing lifelong learning to stay on top of the constantly shifting computing industry.

You have to define what you're hoping to achieve, and utilise every opportunity afforded you throughout the course to pursue it. Weigh your low-level goals against the degree's learning outcomes. What you'll learn is spelled out clearly there. Then you can decide for yourself if it will help you with your goals.
Last edited by JollyCynic; 1 week ago
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creedz98
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(Original post by JollyCynic)
It's difficult to come up with a non-sarcastic reply to a post that includes the phrase, "Especially for someone who hasn't been in education in over 3 years." But I'll do my best. As a disclaimer, I'm only halfway through the degree course, left school early, and have been working in the industry for the last twenty years. I'm not doing the degree for career purposes, so my perspective may be invalid relative to yours.

This is the Open University. Most of the people you'll be studying with measure their time out of school in decades, not years. You can assume with some certainty that your 3 year hiatus will not disadvantage you relative to other students.

It's as easy or as challenging as you make it. It's as rewarding or useless as you make it. It's your degree, your time, your study. If you work really hard for a really good result, that's pretty much worth the same as just doing the minimum necessary to get a parchment at the end. It misses the point of what university study is about.

You have to be extremely clear about specifically what you want to come away with. The most common complaint of graduates from any computing, computer science, or software engineering degree (from any university) is that they didn't learn an industry standard programming language to a professional level. You won't find a prospectus anywhere that makes that kind of promise. If you want to learn a programming language, buy a book and start coding. You're wasting your time and money (and a LOT of effort) going to university just to learn a language that will be obsolete in a few years.

By the end of a degree course, you should understand how computers can be used to solve different types of problems. You should be able to design a plan to use computers to solve those problems logically, and evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of different plans against each other. Most importantly, you should develop skills allowing lifelong learning to stay on top of the constantly shifting computing industry.

You have to define what you're hoping to achieve, and utilise every opportunity afforded you throughout the course to pursue it. Weigh your low-level goals against the degree's learning outcomes. What you'll learn is spelled out clearly there. Then you can decide for yourself if it will help you with your goals.
I don't think I want to just become a programmer and sit in a room all day coding, I'm thinking more towards an IT support role. Since you're currently in your second year, how are you finding the degree regarding the resources provided by the OU?
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JollyCynic
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(Original post by creedz98)
I don't think I want to just become a programmer and sit in a room all day coding, I'm thinking more towards an IT support role. Since you're currently in your second year, how are you finding the degree regarding the resources provided by the OU?
There are two keystone modules for IT support at stage 2. One is TM254 Managing IT: the why, the what and the how. The materials for this are an absolute shambles, and the only word for its assessment is an absolute shambles, despite having already used that word in this sentence. There's an overhaul of the module promised for next year, but that won't involve rewriting the materials, which were the worst part. For assessment, there's some room for growth and a possibility they could fix this, by having the people who write the TMAs and exams read the materials themselves, first, if they can make sense of them. One question in the exam asked students to diagram and describe a concept that was mentioned in the materials as an aside, and neither diagrammed nor described, for example. A TMA question boiled down to describing the cause of a fault which was caused by a team not communicating. Describing the fault as a lack of teamwork got full marks, describing it as a lack of communication got no marks. (Also, the importance of communications was a materials-supported service concept, whereas teamwork was not.) The materials repeatedly state that students will not be evaluated on their memorisation of ITIL vocabulary, but rather generalised service concepts. Predictably, 20% of the first TMA was based on memorisation of ITIL vocabulary.

The other is TM257 Cisco Networking (CCNA) Part 1. The materials for this are provided by Cisco through NetAcad. While industry standard, these same resources may be accessed through tech schools for substantially less money and a much faster course.

I haven't had a view of it at stage 3, but stage 2 doesn't have tremendous resources for IT support. Being someone who's done IT support and networking for an extended amount of time, I would say that an academic understanding of it isn't as useful as experience. I've never hired someone with paper certifications and no experience.
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Xarao
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If you're going for IT Support (e.g. first line/second line), personally you should just go for an apprenticeship and work your way up. Not saying that the degree route is "bad", but you don't really need a degree to get into a support role.
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creedz98
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(Original post by Xarao)
If you're going for IT Support (e.g. first line/second line), personally you should just go for an apprenticeship and work your way up. Not saying that the degree route is "bad", but you don't really need a degree to get into a support role.
I've tried to get into apprenticeships but the opportunities around where I live is very low and we're very luck if an apprenticeship in IT even comes up. And every other job for an IT role asks for experience or at least a degree, of which I have none so for me the only option I can really think of right now is move somewhere else, but I have no money or even a guarantee that I will be able to attain an apprenticeship or go for a degree.
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creedz98
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Problem for me is it's near impossible right now for me to get the experience because I have no experience nor knowledge. I would've thought at least attaining a degree would show employers you are technically capable enough. I know it's hard to get jobs without experience but I've seen employers that ask for degrees and experience as something desirable. I live in South Wales and there isn't much opportunity here to get a role in IT without experience or a degree at least. Also would it not be possible to still go down an IT support route without TM254? From what you have said it sounds like an absolute nightmare.


(Original post by JollyCynic)
There are two keystone modules for IT support at stage 2. One is TM254 Managing IT: the why, the what and the how. The materials for this are an absolute shambles, and the only word for its assessment is an absolute shambles, despite having already used that word in this sentence. There's an overhaul of the module promised for next year, but that won't involve rewriting the materials, which were the worst part. For assessment, there's some room for growth and a possibility they could fix this, by having the people who write the TMAs and exams read the materials themselves, first, if they can make sense of them. One question in the exam asked students to diagram and describe a concept that was mentioned in the materials as an aside, and neither diagrammed nor described, for example. A TMA question boiled down to describing the cause of a fault which was caused by a team not communicating. Describing the fault as a lack of teamwork got full marks, describing it as a lack of communication got no marks. (Also, the importance of communications was a materials-supported service concept, whereas teamwork was not.) The materials repeatedly state that students will not be evaluated on their memorisation of ITIL vocabulary, but rather generalised service concepts. Predictably, 20% of the first TMA was based on memorisation of ITIL vocabulary.

The other is TM257 Cisco Networking (CCNA) Part 1. The materials for this are provided by Cisco through NetAcad. While industry standard, these same resources may be accessed through tech schools for substantially less money and a much faster course.

I haven't had a view of it at stage 3, but stage 2 doesn't have tremendous resources for IT support. Being someone who's done IT support and networking for an extended amount of time, I would say that an academic understanding of it isn't as useful as experience. I've never hired someone with paper certifications and no experience.
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JollyCynic
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Yes, you can get through the degree without TM254. You can replace that module with TM255 Communication and information technologies. I haven't taken it, so wouldn't be able to offer specific experience.
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