Open University


I’ve been taking some Open University modules over the last few months.

I initially went back and forth on what to study: I’d considered doing some maths and statistics modules in order to gain a better understanding of data science techniques at work. But I found I couldn’t really motivate myself to spend time studying pure mathematics.

In February I started Economics in context, the introductory economics module; I’ve found it a little mixed. The more qualitative parts of the module have included things like economic history (directly relating to my undergraduate dissertation, in fact), inequality, and labour rights. On the more quantitative end, the supply-and-demand model and associated graphs bore me rigid, not least because the module itself is constantly demonstrating the weaknesses of this model. Nevertheless, I’ve managed to get through the three pieces of coursework and there’s only an exam next month left to go.

I had two basic intentions with studying that module; firstly, to get more of a basis for understanding economics in general, and particularly to be able to criticise certain ideas from a stronger position; and secondly, because I was considering going back to Birkbeck to do a masters in history, and thought that some economic knowledge might be useful for that. As it happens, I ended up not applying, as none of my first-choice modules were going to be running next year anyway.

Once I’d ruled out doing a masters for now (because Birkbeck and Open University are the only two real options), I found myself considering what I actually wanted to study — and realised that doing a masters simply because it’s a higher level wasn’t particularly motivating. So I took a look at my options and ended up applying for a module in English literature. I hated English at school and tried to avoid it as much as possible, which I’ve since regretted, as it’s left a gap in my knowledge. My history degree started to kindle an interest and I thought now seemed like a good time to take it further.

Because I’ve studied at undergraduate level before I was able to apply for a credit transfer and skip the first-year modules, so I’ll be studying the second-year Reading and studying literature module starting in October. I’m signed up for a BA in Arts and Humanities, but whether I’ll actually carry on for the full four years or not is undecided — I think just doing a module or two would be worthwhile in itself. I’m also not completely settled on whether I’ll be specialising in literature alone, or literature and philosophy — it’d be nice to cover both subjects, but so would going more deeply into just one.