Finding the time

This 2019/2020 academic year, I’m going not going to be able wing it. I’m taking three 30 credit modules, which the OU recommends might take from 24 to 27 hours of study a week. Realistically, I read and study slowly, and this is stage 2, so that might be underestimating it. Unfortunately, there’s really not another gap in my schedule that I can maintain for more than a few weeks.

For a few weeks at a time, I’ll be fine with finding extra time here or there, but just to get TMAs out, and possibly exam revision come next May. (May is always insanely busy at work, though, for some reason, so we’ll see.)

I’ve squeezed an extra half hour into my schedule at night, and I have my extra hours on Wednesday back, but I’m just barely in the green zone, now.

Study schedule

20:30 – 23:30 15:00 – 17:00 20:30 – 23:30 20:30 – 23:30 17:00 – 20:00 20:30 – 23:30 20:30 – 23:30
20:30 – 23:30 20:30 – 23:30

Total: 26 hours

(The OU academic week starts on a Saturday.)

I know that this is the absolute limit of my self discipline. Anything more is just going to crash out. The hours aren’t the best for my brain being active, but my family comes first. So everything has to happen after bedtime, or when the boys are with their grandparents.

I’ve also been able to plan for what the week-by-week looks like, making some assumptions about breaks in the OU’s schedule next year:

Week 614/11 TMA01
Week 94/12 TMA01
Week 1012/12 TMA01

Break 21/12/2019 – 3/1/2020

Week 1530/1 TMA02
Week 1820/2 TMA02
Week 2112/3 TMA03
Week 2325/3 TMA02

Break 11/4 – 17/4

Week 32ExaminationEMAEMA

M269 also has 7 iCMAs throughout the year, but they’ve never caused me to rush in the past. There’s a near miss in weeks 9 and 10, but they’re first TMAs, which tend not to require as much work as later assignments. Finishing two EMAs and revising for an exam all at the same time does seem like a crunch, so I’m glad I’ve got about two months to sort that out, along with studying the final module units.

At some point there will also be a residential / day school for TM257. It will probably be around the Easter break, and there’s an evaluated network configuration task that’s worth 30% of our EMA, and an exam on the day which I think is worth another 30% of the EMA. (I don’t have access to the assessment strategy, yet.) Revising for that might be very, very tight on time, so I hope it goes alright.


  1. Looking forward to hearing how you get on with 3 modules, as that’s what I’m booked for in Sep/Oct (although year 1 modules for me)

    Random question that I can’t seem to find an answer anywhere for… Did you have the same tutors as you progressed though modules? Or were they always completely different for every module?
    Ps. Amazing blog !

    1. Tutors are assigned on a per-module basis. They typically work year after year on the same module. What you might find is that because one of your early tutors is an expert in the field you’re studying who lives in your region, the OU may employ them for a later module and you’ll end up with them again.

      It just so happens that my M250 tutor was also my tutor the year previously for TM129. And by a further coincidence, his wife was my tutor the year before on TU100. And he also tutors a module at Stage 3, so I may end up with him again. But that’s an aberration.

  2. Great to read your journey so far insightful and for me a timely discovery).
    After 5 years of deliberation (and allowing my 2 young kids to reach school age) I have finally signed up to the same OU Degree.
    Starting this October I’ll start my journey – I ‘ll be sure to keep reading about your progress intently! (I’ll also steer clear of TM254).

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