The dissertation year maintains a very creditable balance between on the one hand, a largely unfettered choice of research topic (within the overall scope of "contemporary social and political philosophy")and selection of research materials etc; and on the other, periodic proactive guidance and input from the tutor.
If there is any slight criticism to be made of the overall structure of the MA, it lies in the somewhat restrictive nature of available research topics imposed by contemporary social and political philosophy in the Anglo-American analytical tradition. This reservation might be felt most keenly perhaps by those students contemplating further philosophical research unrelated to political philosophy and/or grounded in the continental tradition.
Whether or not the above does indeed represent a fair and valid criticism of the structure of the MA, the dissertation year without doubt provides a first-class grounding in the techniques and mechanisms of academic research and stands comparison with anything available at more traditional universities.
In conclusion, then, the dissertation year is overall to be recommended strongly as a satisfactory conclusion to postgraduate work at Open University.
Stephen John Coote
Course starting: February 2013
Review posted: December 2013
Be ready for a cold plunge - A857 presents a very different OU year to any you may have done before - you're basically on your own.
Yes, the usual support elements are there and can be ticked-off, but at root there's little difference between A857 and the sort of work entailed in doing a research degree. You deliver a map (the proposal) the OU tells you if they think it covers the intended territory, and then you're off with a 'bon voyage' and a 'see you at the other end'.
More encouragingly? Put the time in, do your reading and A857 turns into a cracking course. On reflection? A year well spent.
Course starting: February 2011
Review posted: December 2011
I've never felt as lonely as I did during this course...
The redeeming features were:
1) the constant support and encouragement by my tutor
2) the philosphy day school that was organized in Birmingham, where I met some of my fellow A857 students for the first (and sadly, only) time.
But overall, it was a great challenge and opportunity, and I'm glad I took it.
Course starting: February 2008
Review posted: June 2009
Wonderful to be able to choose the topic and approach at last, and to have more scope (16-18,000 words). You need plenty of self-discipline, though, and the time between sending the last draft and submitting the bound dissertation is not really enough to be able to make any but very minor changes.
Course starting: February 2004
Review posted: December 2004
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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