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Student and tutor module reviews

Galaxies, stars and planets

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  • Points: 10
  • Code: S177
  • Level: 1

Student reviews

Did this course in it's first round. I was not disappointed!

Brilliantly worded course with excellent examples, diagrams and explanations. The more practical side of things like using the online image view stuff, I found really difficult to get to grips with but I feel this was more a personal thing and not an OU thing.

The content of the course got a little challenging in places but was not too difficult.

Overall I would recommend this course to anyone with an interest in the stars. (The won't tell you constallations but they will tell you the science behind the twinkling lights).

Course starting: May 2012

Review posted: January 2013

I thoroughly enjoyed this course.
Having passed its predecessor S194 10 years ago I found this replacement more challenging and, to be honest, more like a Level 1 University module. It is presented in a rather more sophisticated way and includes more on topics like cosmology, dark matter and dark energy, while still including more basic material on stars, galaxies, and planetary systems including our solar system but also the increasing study and discovery of exo-planets.

The use of the undergraduate version of the Aladin software lays the foundation for exploring and analysing images beyond those required for the course, but the inclusion of video clips from BBC/OU stargazing live at a basic level caters for newcomers to the subject.

Not a great deal of maths required.

Thomas John Davies

Course starting: May 2012

Review posted: December 2012

I picked this course as I thought that it would be a good way of updating my knowledge, so that I could better teach A level physics. From this point of view the course material was very useful. I was also very impressed with the course structure and materials, which were very stimulating and well put together. Clearly a lot of thought, time and effort went into getting this course ready.

I found the course assessment awkward and time consuming. Most of the answers were descriptive and it was difficult to second guess which bits to include in the answer to get the marks. This led to quite a bit of extra time being spent trying to get the answers perfect (to no avail as it turns out). There were also a couple of places where factual answers were required, which, for the life of me, I could not find anywhere in the course material.

I passed but I got alot of achieved as opposed to well achieved. Given my degree in Physics and many years teaching the subject at A level (as well as plenty of experience with self study in Physics and other subjects), it seems natural to come to the conclusion that this particular assessment was problematic - I certainly did not feel that this reflected my actual understanding.

Maybe I was unlucky, as it was the first time the course was run. For myself it did not matter particularly but it was a bit frustrating.

Nonetheless I would still thoroughly recommend the course for the study experience itself.

Nicholas Millward

Course starting: May 2012

Review posted: November 2012

Faculty response

We do appreciate feedback and thank everyone for all their comments.

It can be difficult to phrase questions that are unambiguous to all readers. Although many students attained 'well achieved' and 'achieved' grades for the learning outcomes tested in the assessment, we always watch out for commonalities between things that trip up students, and we'll continue to look for ways to improve the clarity of future assessment questions. The questions are intended only to test understanding and skills from studying the module materials - there are no intentionally 'trick' questions.

I have recently finished this course, which I thoroughly enjoyed and I thought it was excellent. I liked the breadth of it, and the Aladin soft-ware. If I had any criticism, it would be that a little more depth and rigour would have been useful, but I recognise that this was not really the object of the course. For anybody looking for an accessible and broad-ranging introduction to cosmology, I would thoroughly recommend this course.

Course starting: May 2012

Review posted: October 2012

The study material is thorough, in depth and interesting. The module sufficiently prepares you for the more technical maths and science elements contained in the later stages and covers a broad spectrum of what seems to be a vast and constantly developing subject.

However, I would have to agree with the previous reviewer regarding the EMA. I found the wording misleading, and often struggled to provide answers within the guidelines. Although I achieved a pass I do feel that I understood the material better than I was given credit for but was perhaps unable to demonstrate this effectively with the EMA.

Course starting: May 2012

Review posted: September 2012

The material was very interesting and quite demanding for me, as someone who had minimal science background, especially in physics. I learned a lot of basic science from the module, as well as finding out about the universe. I did have to read most of the material several times before I really understood it, but with perseverence it did more or less become clear. I submitted the EMA for the first of the two cut-off dates, after three months, which was more stressful than necessary! Delighted to pass with Achieved!

Course starting: May 2012

Review posted: September 2012

The module content was very interesting, up to date and relevant, suitable for both those new to physics and those needing/wanting a bit of a recap - it is high GCSE/AS level.

However, I feel this course was let down by the EMA, which was extremely poorly worded. My husband studied physics at university and he could not work out what some of the questions were asking either, due to poor grammar and ambiguity. I did pass, but was quite worried about having misinterpreted the questions.

I believe I was on the first presentation though, so maybe these were just teething problems...

Course starting: May 2012

Review posted: September 2012


Tutor reviews

The S177 module team would like to thank all the students who've provided feedback. We appreciate the feedback we have received about the first EMA questions and will continue to review all future assessment material carefully to ensure it is as clear as possible. There is also a forum where student queries can be answered by study advisors, including questions about the wording of EMAs.

Review posted: November 2012

Please note

Each of the views expressed above is an individual's very particular response, largely unedited, and should be viewed with that in mind. Since modules are subject to regular updating, some of the issues identified may have already been addressed. In some instances the faculty may have provided a response to a comment. If you have a query about a particular module, please contact your Regional Centre.

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