Has anyone here done open university while working?


How did you find it? I’m reading about it on their website. Apparently you should be putting away around 16 hours a week for study.


I’ve studied a first degree (BAHons) and a Masters while working full time. I also continued doing individual modules outside of those two degrees and am studying one now.

The 16hrs per week is a conservative estimate. The actual number of hours will depend on how quick you work, how much additional reading you choose to do, how much time you actually have etc.

I really enjoyed it, although I am finally running out of steam now. I can be really tough sometimes just to motivate yourself to do the work so choosing the right courses is really important. There have been times when it was only my interest in the subject matter that could rouse me to do the work.


Cool. That’s a great achievement BTW. I was also wondering, do their terms follow an academic year, or are you consistently studying throughout the whole year? Having a little time off from it now and again would make it more doable.


They don’t do terms. The exact timetable will depend on your particular course of study but most of the modules now run from October to June.

They do factor in a couple of reading weeks here and there but there are assignments dispersed throughout the academic year, so you would sometimes end up with a deadline just before Christmas or in school holidays etc.

If you’re organised and plan ahead, you can easily fit in holidays and the odd week off here and there. I managed to travel fairly extensively while studying, go on excavations, do volunteer work and also do other courses outside the OU. A lot of the materials are now available electronically (pdf, epub, online) but I was lugging course books with me around Syria, sending in assignments from Tunisia and proof reading my dissertation in a hostel in the wilds of Northumberland (I was about to slit my wrists when I thought I’d lost my memory stick).

How much of this sort of thing you can manage obviously depends heavily on the level of other commitments you have to juggle. I don’t have kids so I only have to juggle my own schedules, not so much other people’s.


I’m currently working towards a Computing and IT degree, completed the first year as a full term - didn’t put wild effort into - pass marks don’t count towards final classification, now on the second year and doing part time (60). some modules are still Feb start but most are moved to Oct. Both my modules are Java based and there is a good reason why they started at different times. I spend about 3-4 hours a week on each module and handy to have the books in kindle form so I can reread to/from work some apps can turn them into audiobooks.

The time put into it depends on how much of the subject you know already.


I did a couple of modules a few years ago, when I was doing a bit of a dead end job.

I didn’t find the hours bad, and managed to fit in all the work, but I reckon I’d struggle to do it now. If you have a job that asks anything of you at all, in terms of long hours or having to really think, and the course your doing isn’t directly linked to something you’re doing for work, it can be bloody hard work to raise yourself to do anything extra in the evening.


Yes, I’d agree it’s quite easy to find that time if your job is sufficiently different to what you’re studying. I work in IT and did a creative writing course. Some weeks I’d spend around 20 hours on the course (including here and there at work when it was quiet - which was what I thought your thread meant originally) and sometimes just 8 hours where I could fit it in.


Yes, did a second degree there in maths/physics. It’s a totally different experience from a brick/stone degree. The first years are a doss, in fact (for maths and physics) I’d avoid first year modules and do more level 2/3 stuff, although I don’t think that they let you do this anymore. Some of the modules are as intellectually rigorous as anything I’d done in my first degree and some aren’t. It’s similar with the quality of the tutors, one who I know teaches quantum stuff at UCL (and therefore expected to be good) was atrocious and sapped the enjoyment from the subject. Other tutors were genuinely wonderful, inspiring and their enthusiasm was infectious. I’ve a greater appreciation for the institution than I did before I began. I’m always concerned that it’s not esteemed as well as other universities but I try not to worry about that, you can make of it what you want. If you’ve a good result and enjoy your subject, I don’t believe studying with the OU will have held you back. I think that the most important thing is to be well organized and understand what you are committing to. A lot of people in physics seemed to think that it was going to be like watching a load of Brian Cox shows and were disappointed when they realilsed that there was quite a lot of maths to do. As above, I’d say that the study hours advised by the OU are an underestimate, which is slightly unfair of them. I found that I ended up spending much longer studying and sacrificing a lot of time with people etc, but that might say more about me. There was a guy here in work doing maths, we did some of the same modules, he said by level 3, he just wanted his life back. He left work to concentrate on OU.

It’s also really expensive these days if you’re not in NI or Scotland.

That said, there are a few modules that I’d still like to do and might yet go back to do them.

What are you thinking of studying?

Open University Degrees

Not OU, but I did a distance learning masters at Aberystwyth.

It was fine.