Open University

What do you feckers know of the above?

Long story short… I have 9 “0” levels and “A” levels in Physics, Chemistry and General Studies… Went to a talk tonight organised by the guy that set up Kielder observatory and loved it.

I have always had an interest in Physics but never really followed through on it… slightly refreshed tonight but got to thinking of an O.U. course and completing a degree in Physics.

Any experience?

The video is compelling. Go for it!

Worked near Cambo for a year in the 70’s. Light stain from the Toon much evident then, must be more so now. Kielder’s plenty further though.

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I did an OU course when I lived in Amsterdam. Very good, but you need to make sure you set aside enough time regularly to do the study.

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Too many distractions in Amsterdam… lots of bicycles :smiley:

OU go for it, pick something easy though, Physics sounds hard.

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Because the OU is primarily a teaching university, it’s one of the best places you can study, especially at undergrad level. Too many other universities the Professors are there to do research and teaching students is viewed as a distraction to that.


Physics isn’t that hard. The beauties of it are a) that it works reliably and testably and b) that it all fits together in a consistent integrated way. If you want a real challenge try making any sense at all of Economics. Or Political Science (I use the word in the loosest possible sense). Or Philosophy (Do birds enjoy singing ? Could France be in South America ? Is Red a proper name ? - all of these were real ‘philosophy of mind’ finals questions from the late 70’s).

People from your neck of the woods can be particularly good at Physics too :-). Mrs VB, who has a physics degree, went to school with the legendary Joy Manners and, by complete coincidence, I did my PhD in a lab just up the corrider from the one that Joy was doing hers in.


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:flushed: How come you ended up as a plumber then?

Pays better than a physicist…


He just loves the smell of other people’s shite


This only mainly true of Russell Group HEIs and HEIs scoring highly in the REF - However I don’t see that as an issue as many of the Profs you wouldn’t want as a teacher. The OU isn’t immune from it either…depends on the dept…All our Profs teach our Ug students, some even teach the first year.

To the OP, I’d say go for it, but look around before you jump in with the OU, and see if any other HEIs are offering courses online that you might be interested in.

All I would add, is you need huge amounts of commitment and make sure you leave time aside for studying and completing assessments.

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A long story …

Was always going to follow in my Dads footsteps into some kind of sciency field while I was at school.

During my A levels I got into climbing and met a guy who worked for a housebuilder. Started a little part time job with them to fund my climbing and before you know it…

Left the tools and progressed up management until I could take no more…Came to crossroads, either stay unhappy being a corporate type or set up a little plumbing business and see what happens.

That is it. :slight_smile:


I completed 1/2 of a OU degree more than twenty years ago. I left school with no O levels.

It took up all my spare time and was a massive commitment
but was well worth it and extremely rewarding.
Back then the system was very professional. I’m sure it still is now.

Doing it was a great stepping stone - I now have a MSc

Go for it


Echo the comments about OU being a great university focused on teaching - their study materials are probably the best in the UK.

I suppose the obvious question is motivation - are you doing this to enable a career change, for self reward, or a bit of both maybe? It’s important as it’s quite a time commitment and you’ll need something to hang on to as a compelling goal when work, life and study don’t fit into the finite amount of time you have each week.

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Not for a career change, mainly to prove I can do it and learn.

Will need to really look into the time constraints tho.

I did a Business Studies course with OU about 30 years ago. It took a lot of time. Couple of night a week and all day Saturday. Then there is the residential weekend. Excellent teaching material and support.

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I did an OU course a couple of years ago. Really impressed with the whole thing.

I used to watch OU programmes on the tellybox 35 years ago, back in the day when there was nothing else on at 7 in the morning. They really got me into chemistry and science in general.

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I did something similar a couple of years ago. The Open University operates a scheme with some universities whereby you complete a number of specified modules with them before transferring to a bricks and mortar university in the second year of the course. It’s called the Open Plus scheme and the details are here:

It worked really well and enabled me to get a B.Sc. in Theoretical Physics from the University of Sheffield this Summer. I’m now doing a Ph.D. in Polymer Physics in Sheffield.

As people have already said, the OU’s teaching materials are excellent - they are very experienced when it comes to distance learning and they know what works. The OU modules I needed to progress comprised two Maths modules (one pitched at around the O/A level boundary, the other more A level + level), The Physical World (the OU’s core level 2 Physics module), and an Experimental Science module (which uses either virtual experiemnts, or remote control of apparatus in a real laboratory - pretty funky!). That was a couple of years ago so the requirements might have changed now. The Physical World module is superb - I really can’t praise it enough - and will give you a very solid foundation in Physics.

I’m sure the same applies to the OU’s Level 3 Physics modules (Quantum Mechanics, Electromagnetism and General Relativity, I think) - i.e. I expect the learning resources are excellent. I think the overall Physics pathway in the OU is a bit limited in the range of modules it offers - e.g. relatively little solid state physics or soft condensed matter. I know the OU also offer a Physics & Mathematics degree which might be a better bet, depending on where your interests lie. If you go down that route, you can study Fluid Mechanics, Network Theory and the like. As I say, it depends what you’re interested in.

If you want to PM me I’m happy to discuss further - but I don’t check in here very often so it might take a few days before I get back to you.