I recently stumbled across a message board topic that asked the question: “Is the Open University too difficult?” and it got me thinking. Such a broad and wide question like this is itself fairly tricky to answer. “Has GCSE Geography become too tough?” Those who had recently struggled to pass the subject would probably say yes but the Open University modules and courses cover such a wide range of subjects and topics it is hard to speak in such general terms. Rather than tackling this question as a whole I prefer to look inwards at levels one, two and three and the difficulty in climbing through a degree one step at a time.

First of all it depends a lot on what path you are actually taking. The course options range from honours degrees, foundation degrees, diplomas and certificates right down to short and Open Learn free courses. You can get the full low down on all of these here.

I’ll give you my personal viewpoint on how I found the various changes in levels but no doubt fellow students will have experienced things in a divergent way from myself (we’re all different after all!). Level one is often a fairly straightforward introduction to higher learning and incorporates general studying habits and routines along with a basic grounding of a particular subject which may will find moderately challenging.  Level two then delves deeper into a subject and can represent a quite heavy shift in pace and requirements. If we are not fully prepared or expectant of this then level two can be a tough shift.  Level three was, I’m sure you’re not surprised to hear, at times an extremely difficult encounter. Some of the theories and concepts were hard to get my head around, particularly on the philosophy and economics modules I studied for.

Clearly different course subjects or levels will present varied problems to individual students. I found one of my level three modules fairly manageable for the most part and enjoyed almost every second of the challenge whereas there was a level two module I had real issues with. Trying to work out the concepts and theory behind a lot of the things mentioned caused an almost daily ripping out of hair.

Take for example DB123: You and your money, personal finance in context. I struggled a lot during this course because Mathematics is not one of my strong points and some of the terminology used was floating completely above my head, even after an explanation! Financial assets, equity, liabilities, gearing…..seriously, I had no clue but I learned on the job, got the marks and powered on to the end with a pass.

Did I find that module difficult? Yes I did. Would somebody else find it easy? They may well do. The point is, levels of difficulty often don’t follow a neat lineage from level one, to level two to level three where each level increases in difficulty. The toughness of a module can often lie in the subject matter.

I was having a conversation very recently on one of the Facebook groups I am a member of and a student was deliberating over whether to sign up for DU301: A world of whose making or not. I told her the truth from my perspective.


Not the most erudite of analysis but I’m sure you get the point!

So I suppose the point of this post is pretty much the same as our general advice. Before you sign up for a module check out the feedback from previous students to check if it is something you will be interested in and able to handle. Sometimes only with experience can you truly gauge the difficulty in levels when studying with the Open University and we each find difficulty in things that others breeze through and vice versa.

We endeavour to write as many high quality articles relating to the Open University, it’s courses and workings as possible. Perhaps you may wish to take a look back at previous pieces in our general articles section.

Did you enjoy this article or find it useful? Please LIKE/TWEET/SHARE and drop a comment below with your thoughts. How did you find difficulty between modules and  levels? Let’s get the conversation going and help each other move forward.