Steven's Website

The Open University

After leaving school with only 2 'O' levels and 2 CSE's I was lucky to go straight into employment, however I realised that I need some more qualifications to progress. I went back evening school for 2 years and obtained an 'A' level & 2 GCSE's.

As I wanted to work in IT, I also started studying the Microsoft Certified Professional exams, becoming initially a MCSD and more recently a MCSE. However as Microsoft keep bringing out new or updated software products, meaning that every few years you have to re-qualify, usually by taking another 3 or 4 exams, also the Microsoft exams obviously only cover Microsoft software....

So I started looking around for a more permanent, and more rounded, qualification, and came up with the idea of an Open University course! I'm now (Oct 2008) a graduate with a BSc, although I'm still studying with the OU, with the main of adding honours to my basic degree.

In 2001 I studied T171 You, Your Computer and  the Internet, which is all about the history of the Personal Computer and the Net. Its a Level 1 course worth 30 points (you need 360 for a honours degree!).

The course was very challenging, being delivered entirely over the internet via the course web site, although their are two set books for us to read (Where Wizards Stay Up Late & Accidental Empires). We also use an email system called First Class to access our online tutor group and various T171 discussion groups.

The most difficult aspect of the course has been working alone without any face-to-face tutorials, although out tutor group managed to get together on occasion at a local pub for general chat and self help session. (T171 has now been replaced with T175)

The next year I studied T209 Information and Communication : People and Interactions. This is a level 2 course worth 60 points and is half the points I need to obtain a Diploma in Information Technology. This course consisted of 5 modules, covering such topics as Mobile Telecommunication, Voice Recognition and System Design, Security, Network Management and 'Cyborgs'.

Next I studied the 3 TT28x web design courses. At the time I took these they were new courses on their first presentation, and their were a few difficulties in their presentation, including the answers to one of the CMA's (Computer Marked Assignments) being inadvertently published before the cut off date! On the whole though these were excellent courses giving a good grounding in HTML, Javascript & Active Server Pages.

Fore more details on these and the other courses I've done, follow the links on the left!

Generally OU courses are worth either 10, 30, or 60 CAT points, 120 points is roughly equivalent to a years full time study. Courses are also taught at either level 1, 2 or 3, these being equivalent to the 1st, 2nd or 3rd year of a full time degree course. For an honours degree you need to pass courses worth a total of 360 points, of which atleast 120 points need to be at level 2 and a further 120 points at level 3!

Courses at level one are generally marked as pass or fail.

Most courses have two components, TMAs (Tutour Marked Assignments) & CMA's and then a final exam or ECA (End of Course Assement, basically another assignment or project).

To get a distinction you need to score both components above 85%, otherwise you will end up with a lower grade eg over 85% on the continuous assessment part (TMAs & CMAs) and only 70% on the final exam will get you a grade 2 pass. Their is some scope for upgrading you to a distinction, but the general rule holds. has some useful applications, so you can get an indication of what you final course score will be, together with your overall degree classification.