I finished my degree in 2013 and graduated in 2014, not fully intending to move on into postgraduate studies. After all I never saw myself as the type of person who even gets a degree so moving into postgraduate study also seemed unthinkable. But here we are, I’ve spent a good few months looking over my options and I reckon there’s no time like the present – well, October of this year to be more precise. Me being me I’ve decided not only to go ahead with this huge undertaking but also to blog about it along the way so that it might help inform your future decisions as I continue to negotiate the pitfalls of higher education.
My first step to deciding exactly what it was I was gong to study led me to the student portal on the main open.ac.uk site as I searched for the available options. On a page described simply as “facts” I found a list of helpful hints and distinctions on what I could expect:
- You pay for each module separately – you don’t pay for a whole qualification up front.
- A qualification comprises a series of modules, each with an individual fee. Added together, they give you the total cost.
- Our fees include study materials, tuition and assessment.
- All you need is a computer or laptop and an internet connection, and we’ll provide the rest.
- As well as books and DVDs, you’ll have access to online resources, the OU’s prestigious library, podcasts, videos and downloads.
- Module descriptions give full details of fees and what’s included, so there are no hidden costs.
I needed time to work out just what I was letting myself in for and a period of research ensued, to get to the bottom of just what a Masters is and it entails. According to the Find A Masters website there are some subtle but strong differences between studying at postgraduate level and undergraduate level.
The real differences between undergraduate and postgraduate study may not be obvious until you investigate course materials and assessment criteria more closely. As you do you’ll find that a much greater emphasis is placed on your ability to undertake independent, self-directed study. This isn’t just true of the dissertation project that concludes a typical Masters programme; it’s also the case for taught units, which will expect you to prepare more comprehensively for timetabled classes and may also ask you to identify your own assessment topics. A good Masters programme won’t just leave you with a greater level of subject knowledge; it will also guide the development of your own critical voice.
Cost is obviously a big factor in anyone’s decision-making process and I am no different. Working full time is a bonus financially but does present time constraints and as my wife also works full time and we have three young children all under eight years old, these things must also be taken into consideration. I had a relatively fixed idea of the area I was looking to move in to but here is a list of the prices I could expect to pay for the various options.
I pretty much knew which area I would gravitate towards because my goal is to become an online tutor. Location independence is my aim as I strive towards creating a better work-life balance so the distance course is most appealing.
Online & Distance Education —> £5817-£6954
I’ve often found that not having a clear goal to work towards seriously hinders my progress so knowing that the MA in Online and Distance Education was my logical next step helped create a whole lot of mental clarity. The pathway guidance facility provided by the Open University will hopefully help to provide me with a clear route to the end. To gain the qualification I will have to gather 180 credits including 60 from a compulsory one-size-fits-all module, then a further 60 points from list A which contains four core optional modules. The final 60 points is made up from either a second module from list A or a module chosen from list B which offers a further nine optional modules. Not all modules are worth 60 points, some are 30 but they are only a couple of hundred pounds cheaper so it doesn’t make sense to study one of those. I hope all of this makes sense!
The minimum time frame for completion is two years but there is no danger of me getting it done in that time anyway. More realistically it will take me 3-4 years to finish which fits in with my six-year plan to move away from my current line of work and into the online world of employment. Best laid plans and all that. No doubt things will change as life moves on but this is what I have in mind currently and I plan on blogging more about this subject as I continue along the journey.
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