Enrolment for 2020/2021: The easy road

With Student Finance England opening part-time applications today (as distance learning, all OU tuition is classified as part-time), I’ve completed enrolment and finance applications for next year. Normally, I’ve sailed past enrolment by March. Honestly, I’m impressed that I can fix myself a sandwich most days in lock down. This is positively high-functioning for me this year.

Next year will be the opposite of last year’s slog. It’s practically a cake walk. Except no cake at the end. Alright, I’ll probably have cake. And definitely rum. Anyway, I’m giving myself the easiest start to stage 3 study that I could. I’ll certainly be regretting that I said this by next February or March, but it might be the most relaxing year I’ve had since the lazy days of TU100.

Instead of the three module crush of last year, I’m back down to just two this year. And I’m only carrying on two of last year’s modules. I’m following up TT284 Web Technologies with MT352 Web, Mobile, and Cloud Technologies. I’m not great with web development, but I’m not awful. I imagine the mobile stuff will mostly involve converting web applications to mobile apps, with accessing phone I/O and environmental considerations thrown in. But it’s just a guess and I could be in for a rude awakening. As for cloud technologies, I used to build and deploy IAAS platforms, so I’m happy to get a more academic view of that. At least I’ll have plenty of practical context for the discussion. Based on some hints dropped in the TT284 materials, I’m also expecting to play a bit with SOAP and REST, and also JSON and more XML. All of which seems interesting, so clearly I’m missing something. (Okay, so it will mostly be report writing again, probably. So I get to whet my procrastination skills.)

I’m going from TM257 Cisco Networking (CCNA) Part 1 to TM357 Cisco Networking (CCNA) Part 2. This is really just the second half to what used to be a single 60 credit module, except the second half has been updated from V6 of the CCNA materials to V7. I’m not going to lie, TM257 was hard work, and there was a lot of it, but it was doable. In fact, the amount of confidence I got was not insignificant. Which has been something of a recurring theme with OU study.

And that’s it. Please don’t shake my obvious self-denial about the workload differential between stages 2 and 3. If I thought for one minute that two stage 3 modules might end up being tougher than three stage 2 modules, well … My lock-down-defeated self just probably couldn’t take it.

Good luck to everyone else gearing up for next year.


  1. TM 357 and TT284 for me next year. My first level 3 module !!!
    I am a bit worried to be honest, but hope I am up to the job. Less than 3 weeks to results day – be good to know how we did.
    How did you find TT284?

    1. Huh, I just realised that I haven’t written up reviews for the three modules for this year. The short version for TT284 is that it was … fine. It’s not a very expansive topic being taught. It basically covers three areas: The functionality of the web technologies examined, how to find reliable and updated information on best practices surrounding those technologies (including non-technical best practices, such as usability and accessibility), and client-facing communication, such as gathering specifications and writing reports. You can focus your time on whichever of those areas is weakest, so it didn’t really seem overwhelming for too many people. If you’ve dealt with file streams in basically any language, the technical stuff won’t be bad at all.

  2. Hi Mark! I have just come across your blog and I found it very interesting! Please carry on with it I don’t think anyone has done anything half as comprehensive as this blog about the OU.

    I am thinking on studying a HEDip on Computing and IT. Which is basically years 1 and 2 of the BsC on Computing and IT. Could I ask for your opinion? Would you say that your learning skills that will help you find a job within IT? Would you recommend it? Also, is it realistic the time frames they give on their website for the credits? I’m not sure whether to do it part or full-time (I have a full-time job).
    Best of luck for next year’s modules!

    1. Hi Alice,

      Hmm. I tried this once before, but it was way too long. Let me try again.

      I’d like to preface all of this as being only my opinion. I’m a single data point, and I’m not an expert or guru. My experiences may not mirror others due to my background.

      As someone working in IT, I can’t really say that I’ve learned skills helpful for getting a job in IT. I’ve learned skills helpful to working in IT. Most of these are non-technical, again due to my background. Research, study skills (extremely important in the shifting landscape of IT), evaluation, and an academic view at different cycles like service and development cycles have all been helpful.

      A degree may help more with how far you can go than getting your foot in the door with IT. Someone working a second part-time job for two-to-four years might be much more attractive than someone with a HEDip … Or maybe not. It depends on your employer and what you can do and prove in those years.

      The guidelines on workload are on par with what I experienced. Some were much less, some were much more. I feel I could have done the first stage in a single year (if I’d taking MU123 maths instead of MST124, anyway), but taking 90 credits at the second stage this last year, alongside a full-time job and raising two children, nearly killed me. It really depends on your familiarity with the materials.

      Nobody knows you better than you, so my final recommendation is to spend more time analysing yourself than the OU on deciding if it’s a good fit for your goals.

      1. Hi Mark,

        Thank you very much for your response. I understand that this is your experience but I literally know no one who has studied at the OU and wanted to know whether their subject contents were relevant to the workplace. I’d love to be able to just work in any position in IT but I haven’t got any experience at all so I don’t know how to get my foot in the door if not through studying. I might go onto doing a BSc but I’d like to do the HND first and see how that goes.

        Thank you again for your response. Take care!

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