Overseas OU Students

I’ve just been made aware of a great site that has only recently been set up. It’s for students who are studying or are thinking of studying at the OU outside of the UK and Ireland. If you fit the bill, the website is at open

If you’ve read any of my other posts, you’ll know that amidst the moaning, I am a big, BIG fan of the Open University. It helped me finish my degree when my lack of funds was preventing me from going back to a more traditional uni.

Carrying on in the spirit of distance learning, I’ve signed up for some courses from Coursera and FutureLearn (FutureLearn is wholly owned by the OU so you know it’s gotta be good). I have been indulging in my love for history on FutureLearn and anthropology on Coursera. But now I’m working, I’m finding it very hard work. It’s hard to pluck up the motivation. And that just made me want to give a big shout out to all those people who study with the OU whilst managing a family and/or a full-time job: you guys are machines. Serious respect!

I’m still good, by the way. Working as a copywriter which I love ūüôā I know I don’t update much as I want to keep this blog a resource for people looking to study with the OU and I don’t want to clog it up with my ramblings! If you’re interested in my life, cheek out my personal blog over yonder (although I am terrible at updating this too!)

Nikki x

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Posted by on February 3, 2014 in OU


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Graduating in front of my favourite bar: apt!

So that’s it. I’ve done it. All done and dusted. The end of an era!

Despite finishing my degree last year, I only graduated this past Saturday (November 23rd) because of when the graduation ceremonies were. I wasn’t that bothered about going but boy, am I glad I did!

It was held at Symphony Hall in Birmingham at 3. We got there at around 1 and registered, and then went to get robed. It all went very smoothly and everyone working there had an air of excitement around them. We were given programmes that detailed the top dogs at the OU and also had the degrees and classifications printed of everyone who was graduating, which has made a lovely keepsake.


My parents didn’t pay for photos as they knew I wouldn’t like them so I got my dad to take a few of me. I’m not a huge fan of most of them but then again I wouldn’t be a girl if I weren’t happy with 95% of photos taken of me!


The ceremony itself was pretty emotional! There were two people there who were picking degrees up on behalf of people who had died which was very moving. There were also a lot of disabled people graduating which really demonstrates how invaluable the OU is to people with a disability.

When I walked across that stage I was so worried I would trip over and make a fool of myself! My dad filmed it and I walked across the stage much faster than I thought I did. When I got to the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Professor¬†Musa Mihsein), he shook my hand, said, “Well done Nicola, congratulations” and handed me an envelope. The envelope held a little card with a message on that basically says well done for graduating.


When the ceremony was over I took a few more photos with my parents (and my mom will kill me if she knew I’d put one of her on here, so shhh!) and then I went for a much needed drink at the bar you can see above.



It’s weird to think it’s all over now. Even though my degree was done and dusted over 12 months ago, I’ve been waiting for this day. And now it’s over! I studied with the OU for four years (after I transferred my first year credits over from the University of Kent) so it’s a longer relationship than most people have with their alma maters.

And it was bloody hard work. I’m smart and I got a 2:2, which I have to say I wasn’t expecting! The OU is not an easy ride, by any means. The grade boundaries are higher and the motivation you need to work at home, by yourself, with no lectures, is a feat that I never thought I would accomplish.

I don’t finish things very often. I’m renowned for getting bored with things halfway through, so for me to finish a degree and actually¬†graduate means more than many will ever know. I’m proud of myself, I’m proud of my parents for putting up with the moaning and for supporting me (both emotionally and financially!), and I’m proud of this country for having such an institution: one where the only barriers to learning are your own mind.

And with that, dear readers, I bid you adieu. This signals the end of this blog and the end of my (very long, meandering) journey.

Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions on the OU or studying in general; either leave me a comment on here or over at my other blog which I still write in.

Nikki x


Posted by on November 25, 2013 in Uncategorized



I always meant to write in here when I got my final degree results, but for some reason I never did!

As you can see from my title, I got a 2:2 in the end. I was on track for a 2:1 but it all depended on my final essay, which didn’t exactly go to plan. I didn’t enjoy it and even though my tutor gave me as much help as possible, the topic still seemed as clear as mud to me! If I ever see a renaissance altarpiece again it will be TOO soon!

Never mind though. I still have a degree, and one I earnt off my own back as well. The OU is MUCH harder than a traditional university and no matter what grade you get, you did bloody well finishing it! That in itself was a great accomplishment for me; when I was younger, I would often fail to see things through to their conclusion so actually sticking with something and not giving up halfway is a great achievement.

Having said all this, I have yet to graduate! The next graduation date in Birmingham isn’t until¬†NOVEMBER 23RD. Yes, it is bloody ridiculous. I was not very impressed! I finished my degree at 24 and will graduate at 26. What a strange state of affairs! I will try to remember to post here when I am an actual graduate instead of an inferior graduand ūüėČ

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Posted by on April 30, 2013 in Uncategorized


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An Ending

I haven’t written in here since NOVEMBER and I finish my final (if I pass!) OU course on May 31st. Needless to say, the end is nigh for this blog. That said, I want to keep writing, and more regularly. If you are so inclined, please do check out my very new personal blog over here.

Anyhoo, for my last course I managed to scrape a 2:1; hoorah! The hope is I can continue the trend with my current course (AA315: Renaissance Art Reconsidered). For my first two essays I received a 2:1 but I’m not that optimistic for the final two.

My next essay is due in April 5th, is worth 40% of my final grade, and I only have a week to do it (which I think is UTTERLY unfair). And I don’t understand the question. Granted, I haven’t asked for any help or checked out the forums so far, so hopefully my understanding will be better this time tomorrow!

I have received back my proforma for my final Independent Essay and things aren’t good that end either. The direction I wanted to go in is pretty much a dead end so I have to re-evaluate what the heck I want to write about. This isn’t easy as I have discovered I dislike Renaissance art greatly and don’t care about any of it – and if you don’t care, it’s unlikely you’ll write a good essay.

Having said this, I am pretty motivated to pass this damn course because I refuse to spend another second of my life studying; I am utterly fed up of it and just want a grown up job with some monies please!

This year, a few things have changed with the OU which I dislike: the main one being their constant fiddling with the submission time of essays. When I first started, it would be Friday at midnight. Then it moved to Friday midday. Now it has moved to Thursday midday. This effectively cuts out two days of essay writing for the average person and I am not happy with it, at all.

I also don’t understand my next essay being worth 40% and only having a week to do it, whereas the Independent Essay is worth 50% and for that we have¬†six weeks.

I don’t understand such changes and I just thank my lucky stars that I have parents willing to support me because no¬†way could I do this amount of work, hold down a full time job and still hope for a social life! I do sometimes wonder if this is why the OU appeals to the older student: at 24 I need a social life! Also, after being in education for twenty years, my motivation for textbook based learning left me a good long while ago.

Oh well, moaning over! Hope you’re all well and thank you for reading ūüôā

Nikki x

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Posted by on March 27, 2012 in Art, OU, TMAs


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Long Time, No Write.

Gosh, September 8th was when I last wrote here. Since, then I have finished my EMA, collated it and sent all three copies off to Milton Keynes.

I was confident with it at the time, but with hindsight my confidence has dwindled. Last year I thought I did really well in my exam but I only got a Grade 3 Pass (a 2:2. I have been told this is the degree classification of the partier, which would be rather accurate. I do like a good night out). I did do better on my TMAs this year compared to last year though so who knows? I do have to admit, I found it much easier to secure 2:1s when I was at actual university than I do with the OU. Lord knows why, because I never used to pay attention in lectures. My friend and I used to pass notes to a guy who sat in front of us. About dolphins. It was very bizarre! (But we were drama students, so I think we can be forgiven.)

Anyway, AA318 has finished and I have embarked upon AA315; Renaissance Art Reconsidered. I am actually finding this course more enjoyable, I think because there were set rules artists had to follow and these are easier to digest than a 20th century artist putting forward odd notions about what exactly made him enlarge Brillo boxes.

The only part of this course I don’t like is architecture. I think it is half down to the way the author wrote the chapter, half because I find it very difficult to visualise in my head, even after watching the DVD. I have never been interested in architecture, I find it too technical. However, I found learning about how frescoes and altarpieces were created very interesting indeed. The jury is still out on sculpture because again, I find it hard to visualise. But it’s easier to get my head round than architecture!

This is (hopefully) my last course with the OU; in June I should have finished! However, because this is my last year, for some reason I seem to have lost an awful lot of motivation. From what I can gather, this is pretty common. I have been studying at degree level since 2006, with a large break in 2008. That’s four and a half years. It’s tiring! I never thought I’d say this, but I’m getting fed up of education!

That said, I have started my proper Swedish classes which result in an OCR qualification. I can’t help myself! My CV is getting to the point where I have to have a few different ones depending on the kind of jobs I want to go for, because I have a lot of superfluous crap on there. (eg I have Childcare and First Aid qualifications. I got out of doing the Food Hygiene one!)

Anyway, I think I will upload a video soon of everything that came with this course. It’s all become a lot more internet based since last year which is to be welcomed, although I DO wish we could submit our EMAs online. Recorded delivery is bloody pricey!

Hope you’re all well, and sorry for not writing for two months!

Nikki x

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Posted by on November 14, 2011 in Art, OU, Universities


On Academic Texts.

I see myself as a pretty smart girl. I’m not super intelligent; I never got an A* in my GCSEs for example. But for the amount of work that I do (the bare minimum, most of the time), I don’t think I fare too badly.

I also read a lot. My mom loves reading, and enrolled me at the library the second I could turn a page.  I sometimes think, however, I have picked the wrong books to read. Because when it comes to academic texts, I feel like I am banging my head against a brick wall.

I never read classics, being annoyed, first of all, by the simpering female characters, and secondly by the language. I got through the Shakespeare component of my GCSEs with the help of the CGP guides. No Fear Shakespeare saw me get an A on my paper for The Tempest in my A Levels. (I got a D overall, so I dread to think how badly I scored on the other papers! Then again, I didn’t read the book. I don’t even remember what the book was!)

Being forced to study English Literature at school, and then again at college (it was part of the ‘Drama Package’, but I was allowed to drop it in the second year) really killed my love of reading for a fair few years, and I sometimes think it still has, to a certain extent.


I have been trying to read the texts I was advised to pick for my final big essay, or EMA. I struggled with Peter B√ľrger’s 1974 text of 5-odd pages for an hour, but I got there. I have a vague¬†understanding¬†of what he is getting at. Then I tried to read Benjamin Buchloh’s. ‘Oh,’ I thought to myself, ‘it was only written in 1986. This will be a doddle!’

Famous last thoughts.

It was NOT a doddle. It was like wading through treacle. Treacle that has been left out for days, and has started to set. I read all 8 pages, and have made one highlight. ONE. I have no idea what the hell he was talking about. Something about Yves Klein and Malevich, but everything else has blurred together into one impenetrable mass. I think to get through it I am going to take it into work on Saturday and read it verrrry slowly, one paragraph at a time, with a dictionary by my side.


I honestly believe that the majority of academic writers try to out-pompous each other. Instead of writing what they mean, they use all these stupid words that the average person doesn’t even know, and then they use them all together, in one big huge long sentence.

Call me stupid, but my idea of good writing is not writing where I have to look every other word up in the dictionary, and STILL be none the wiser.


I believe there was a writer who once said why use a large word when a small one will suffice? In googling that I came across this:

Small words have the largest impact. Small words can become the hammer to drive your point home, while big words tend to soften the blow.

Culled from a recent paper: ‚ÄúThe panel felt the Senator was being¬†disingenuous.‚ÄĚ

What? Lacking in frankness or candor? He prevaricated? Equivocated? Misrepresented? Fabricated? Do any of those words come close to the power of, The panel felt the Senator lied? Everyone understands the word lie. None of the other words carry the clear meaning that lie conveys.



People who use large words in order to show off are not my friends. Why not make your work accessible to everyone, even lay people, instead of a small group of other academics?


UGH. Rant over!

Nikki x

PS If anyone wants to help me with Buchloh’s essay, dear god please do!

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Posted by on September 8, 2011 in Academia


Jag l√§mnade mitt hj√§rta i Sverige.

Hej alla! I have just returned from my second trip to Stockholm, and it was AWESOME. I love that place so much. But you might be wondering; why the obsession with Sverige? Well, I am hoping to apply to study this course at Stockholms Universitet next year. Why? Well the two main reasons are the cost (free!) and the fact that I feel so at home in Stockholm, more so than even in England. I am sure we have all had holidays where we could see ourselves living in that country. Everything clicks; you love the people (and the men!), the weather (hot in the summer, freezing in the winter? Ja sn√§lla!), the culture… it’s just bloody amazing.

I am also going to apply for similar courses in Gothenburg and Helsinki, but I want the Stockholm one the most. If I don’t get in, there is a good chance I will cry. But then I will work for a year and apply again the following year; post grads in Scandinavia are quite often 25 and over.

So to help me prepare, I am starting Swedish classes on September 14th. I am very excited! I am not starting in the entry level class, but the one up, since I already know some Swedish through Rosetta Stone. I actually tried speaking some Swedish this trip and I was pleasantly surprised; I had been told that once a Swede hears your terrible accent they switch instantly to English, and that totally didn’t happen with me! I’d say, ‘Jag talar inte Svenska’ (I don’t speak Swedish) and they would ask ‘Engelska?’ No presumptions or anything ūüôā I did meet two Swedes who said I had the perfect accent so here is hoping I will be top of the class haha!!

In AA318 news, I am waiting for my last TMA result. I can’t even begin to focus on the EMA until I have that result back and I have spoken to my tutor – we have a tutorial on Saturday which I need¬†desperately¬†because I don’t really understand the EMA at all.

Also, my last course books have come! I start AA315 (Renaissance art reconsidered) in October. I quite like the look of the books; unlike AA318, the text in these books is split into two columns. And strangely, it looks like I will be able to focus on that easier. It’s really bizarre, but I remember in college being given a right or left brained test and because I scored right brained, my law teachers gave me textbooks with pictures. And strangely, it worked! I got an A, and then when I tried a Law course with the OU I pretty much failed because their textbooks had no pictures. Strange, I know.

Anyhoo, I hope you are all good, och tack för läser!

Nikki x

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Posted by on September 1, 2011 in Sverige, The author, TMAs, Universities

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