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Student and tutor module reviews

Exploring science

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  • Points: 60
  • Code: S104
  • Level: 1

Student reviews

This course was both enjoyable, interesting but challenging, especially due to the fact I hadn't studied science since leaving school 15 years ago!

However, I found this module offered a great introduction to the many areas of science and a great way to discover the areas of science which I would like to study further. I started the module with an interest in Biology and I have finished with an interest in physics and geology (I didn't see that one coming!)

The books and study material was clear and easy to study, the TMAs where challenging but interesting and the tutor support and study days were brilliant. As my tutor said during my times of panic, study with the OU is not a sprint but a marathon! I have thoroughly enjoyed this module and recommend it highly, just one word of warning...be prepared for the exam at the end, having not sat an exam for 15 years it was a shock to the system, my advice would be to practice past exam papers.

Course starting: September 2014

Review posted: July 2015

A great starting module for anyone who is interested in science. A gentle start but the pace of study picks up towards the end. Covers a very broad area including physics, chemistry, biology, and geology. Not much depth to most of it, but gives you a good idea of what each branch of science is about.

Course starting: February 2014

Review posted: June 2015

Although having worked in science related areas all my working life this was the first time I had studied science formally since leaving school some forty years ago. The course content was fascinating especially in the areas that were newly discovered since I had been at school. In particular, the sections on DNA, some of the astronomy and fundamental particles were new to me. I found the mathematical content relatively easy at around the standard of O level mathematics in my school days.

The course material was excellent as was the tutorial support and TMA feedback. What I really liked about the course material was not only was it clearly explained and illustrated but the worked examples were laid out in such a way they were easy to follow, allowing one's misunderstandings or misconceptions to be quickly corrected.

The final examination was a bit of a rote learning experience but the available past papers were a great help during the revision process.

If you like me you are a returner to formal education, I can thoroughly recommend this course either as the foundation for further study in the OU or just to keep your brain ticking over. However, to do it justice you probably will require the average of sixteen hours of study each week that is recommended.

Alan Keith Sully

Course starting: September 2014

Review posted: June 2015

This was a brilliant module - I thoroughly enjoyed it. Most of the books were well written but book 4 could have done with a rewrite. On the whole I am really glad this was my first module.

T Cleaver

Course starting: February 2014

Review posted: May 2015

A fantastic introduction to Science. If you haven't chose your specific field of interest. It has been a great foundation for the courses I am doing now. As it is so varied you may find yourself more motivated and interested by some sections more than others. All in all a great course for introducing you to study.

Stephen McDade

Course starting: February 2014

Review posted: March 2015

Fantastic course ! If you are interested in all aspects of science this is the course for you. Eight amazing books, So varied, you will study everything from quantum physics to earthquakes and from organic chemistry to photosynthesis. There really is something for everyone. I enjoyed it all but if you only like say, physics, then you might only like a small section of it. Day schools were really good too, I went to the ones in Birmingham where the tutor was really good. Can't recommend it enough, I have learnt so much about the world in which we live.

Lee Saunders

Course starting: October 2013

Review posted: February 2015

This a very varied course that covers a wide range of subjects. In this respect it is intense and will take a lot of study time. My advise is to not get bogged down with the TMAs and skip one if you have to. The exam was hard but is designed to give you the very best chance of passing!

You can pick up most of the pass points from the multi-choice questions from part 1 and the graph question from part 2. Part 3 requires answering 2 questions from 4 so really concentrate on your two favourite subjects as you progress through the books.

This is a good course, frustratingly varied at times but overall enjoyable and a wonderful sense of achievement on passing!

Adrian Smart

Course starting: October 2013

Review posted: August 2014

I found S104 really interesting. I know a lot of people thought that there was too much information, but I enjoyed the varying subject matter and pace. The only thing to keep in mind is that there are a lot of TMAs/iCMAs (about one of each per month). That said, if you keep up with the reading, these should not be an issue.

I did not enjoy studying biology, but simply because it is not an area I have ever enjoyed studying, but the material was not particularly difficult. The rest of the material I found enjoyable and I really enjoyed learning about the different aspects of sceince. I love astronomy (and that is what my degree is going to be in) but there wasn't very much of it, which is my only real criticism.

My tutor was excellent; really helpful and always e-mailed back promptly.

All I would say is that the exam is a lot harder than the specimen paper. When I sat the exam there had been no previous exam and there was a specimen. I found the specimen quite easy but when I went to the actual exam I was stunned that it was nothing like it! So if you are starting S104 I would suggest purchasing previous exam papers from the OUSBA shop. They are cheap and will help you get a real flavour of what the exam is going to be like.

Laura McCafferty

Course starting: October 2012

Review posted: June 2014

S104 for a level one module is very intense and will probably nearly break you, as it did with me. I wouldn't suggest that anyone takes this course in conjunction with another because it does eat up a lot of time for studying and writing TMAs.

However, that said - I had the best tutor you could ask for who took the time on many occasions to help me understand sections of the course I was unsure of. And the information in S104 is invaluable as you progress on to level 2 modules.

Course starting: October 2012

Review posted: May 2014

I really enjoyed this course and this is what started the OU addiction for me. I found Book 1-3 easy going and the concepts introduced were stimulating.

Book 4 and 5, I knew from reading past comments, were tough but I didn't feel I couldn't keep pace with the course. By engaging more with the material I found that the results for TMAs were my best on these. I would definitely make sure you plan your time well as doing so, pays dividends.

I would recommend this course to anyone wanting to see where their strengths lie in science if that is your chosen path. It might surprise you what you think you liked and what you are actually good at. It did me.

Course starting: October 2012

Review posted: May 2014

This is a great course covering many subjects of science and makes for a solid foundation to build on no matter what discipline you wish to follow. The work load and pace is demanding but very rewarding and some key maths skills are a definite prerequisite to understand and work through much of the material. There are a few home-experiments to carry out and report your findings. I found one in particular fascinating, the light-bulb experiment...almost magical!

The TMAs reflect the numerous books as you would expect and the exam is a combination of the various TMAs so it's important to keep up and submit all of them on time as feedback from your tutor is paramount.

We had a specimen exam paper (with solutions) and I found it especially useful to time myself as a mock exam. I didn't have enough time to finish the exam as before you know it, its over, so I would stress the importance of timing yourself in advance of the actual exam! The face-to-face tutorials are encouraged but really depend on where in the materials you are up to. Help, encouragement and feedback from my tutor was excellent.

Revision is a must as there is an awful lot of material to work through and learn, but by the end of it, you certainly feel as though you have achieved something.

Andrew Whitworth-Barlow

Course starting: February 2013

Review posted: April 2014

What a fantastic way to get back into education. A great deal of information which gave me a total new outlook on this planet. From tectonic plates to global warming, I found this course an absolute pleasure hardly ever a chore. If anybody is considering doing this course, please attend the day schooling sessions as I found them so helpful in tying up loose ends, especially in the biology section.

Kennie Lee Pritchard

Course starting: February 2013

Review posted: March 2014

This was my first foray back into education for a long while, the work load at times was slightly high with 8 Books, a DVD and a practical kit.

The course covers a great deal of subjects from Global Warming to Physics, Biology, Chemistry all the way to exploring life in the universe.

You are eased into the course but as you delve deeper into S104 the work load increases as you start doing experiments and more in-depth assignments.

I found that the material is well written even for myself with learning difficulties, and the support I received from my tutor was second to none with my assignment feedback, any queries I had and the enthusiasm in the tutorials was great which really rubbed off with the students.

I did however find the Exam was harder than the specimen paper but thanks to all the support from my tutor and the hard work put over the course was manageable.

On the whole S104 is a must for anyone interested in science, it gives you a good basic grounding in science and the right preparation for further studies.

My advice for this course is be prepared to work hard and set as much time as you can aside for revision for your exam, and never be afraid to ask for help from your tutor or from fellow students in the forums.

On the whole this course can be quite challenging at times but truly is great fun, and gives you a great sense of achievement and increases your love of science.

Matthew James Paylor

Course starting: February 2013

Review posted: March 2014

I really enjoyed this course. After been out of education for 10 years it was a great way to get back into studying again.

At times it was tough going, and the intensity does pick up at around book 4, but as long as you try and stick to the study planner as much as possible, you do get through it.

I found the exam a little tough but looking back, I think I needed more revision time that I set aside, however, I passed the exam so I did a lot better than I thought.

My tutor was excellent, and very supportive, giving constructive criticisms and feedback on my TMAs I found really useful, as if I had not quite got the idea my tutor would give me a good example answer, which was helpful when it came to revision time.

It's just a shame the overall result for the module depends entirely on the exam result for me personally, as I am not great in the exam situation, and my TMA results were all pretty high.

That said overall really enjoyed the course, has given me a great grounding for my next planned modules, and the text books are great, and I still refer back to them now for some things.

Course starting: October 2012

Review posted: December 2013

I found this course fantastically interesting. The work load, as mentioned by other reviews was high in places but for me, as long as I kept up with the study planner there were no real dramas or late nights.

If you have done any science at college I would say this course will refresh you and build on that. The maths was challenging in places but the text books are good and the tutor support was fantastic with any questions being answered within 24 hours.

Even if you havent studied science before it does start off at a quite basic level but it builds up quickly to more challenging ideas.

The TMAs and ICMAs were a great method of confirming understanding and for me they consolidated the subjects they covered.

Personally I didn't enjoy a couple of the books purely because I have no real interest the subjects they covered but I would say the books and activites do a good job keeping your attention and I found that in the exam I answered one the optional questions on one of the subjects I wasn't interested in.

The home experiments were fun, especially building the light box and the rain gauge experiment.

Definitely use the online live tutorials, mine were on illuminate but the OU also uses collaborate which is just a jazzed up version of illuminate.

I can't stress enough you will have to study on this course but depending on your previous experience you may get away with less than the recommended amount. Just follow the study plan and you cant go wrong.

It's just a pity that the iCMA and TMA results don't count towards your final mark. As long as you average over 40% for all of those, your final grade is determined from just the exam. So definitely work through the provided sample paper as there doesn't seem to be any past papers to purchase in the OU shop.

You will definitely feel you have achieved something when you finish. Good luck!

Edward John Holt

Course starting: February 2013

Review posted: November 2013

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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Module satisfaction survey

The figures below are taken from a survey of students who sat the exam/completed the end-of-module assessment for the October 2013 presentation of S104. The survey was carried out in 2014. 31.5% of our students responded to the survey covering what they thought of 10 aspects of the module. See this page for the full text of questions and more information about the survey.

Overall, I am satisfied with the quality of this module 95.3 %
Overall, I am satisfied with my study experience 91.9 %
The module provided good value for money 73.4 %
I was satisfied with the support provided by my tutor/study adviser on this module 90.2 %
Overall, I was satisfied with the teaching materials provided on this module 91.9 %
The module met its stated learning outcomes 91.4 %
I would recommend this module to other students 88.2 %
The module met my expectations 86.3 %
I enjoyed studying this module 88.3 %
Overall, I was able to keep up with the workload on this module 72.1 %
Faculty comment: "The module team would like to thank all of the students who took the time to take part in the survey and to give their feedback. We are pleased that overall students express satisfaction with the quality of the module, in particular with the standard of the teaching material, the level of tutor support and the clarity and effectiveness of assessment. A significant number of students reported difficulties keeping up with workload. The Faculty have undertaken a review of the module and as a result have introduced an element of choice in the later part of the module and so reduce the overall workload. The module website has also been revised as although students report being able to find clear information as to “what to study and when” navigating the module website was a possible barrier to learning for some students. One student has described this module as a ""science theme park"", to enjoy the ride you need to be aware that it does take at least 16 hours of study a week to study this 60-credit module and more if you do not have the recommended background scientific knowledge and mathematical skills."
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