Wednesday, 19 July 2017

OU PPE Course Review

So I have the results of my 6 courses and am just waiting on the final award being made.

DD101: Introduction to OU study and Social Science. Not the most exciting course and at times a bit pedestrian, but it was vital in developing essay writing skills and study technique.

A222: Philosophy was not my favourite choice so decided to get it out of the way quickly. Reasonably interesting, but not earth shattering, highlight was that it had a good section on political philosophy. The exam at the end was difficult and I think I had some bad advice on exam technique, and as a result probably under performed on the exam.

DD203: Politics: Really enjoyed all of this. Great stuff and a good tutor. Exam wasn't too much of a drama.

DD209: First time out for this course and it had some issues - poor website and errors in text, which when doing formula is a real problem. The content however was really interesting. The main problem for me as that as a first ever exam they had one example practice exam and some of those questions or very close to them ended up in the real exam. I'd gambled that they wouldn't do this so concentrated on other parts of the course.

DD309: Another great economics course. No exam, but the project at the end was really intense. It helped that I found an idea to pursue that really panned out, and allowed me to disprove an existing idea (for the data I had) and propose an alternative point of view.

DD306: A mixed course, highs and lows. I somehow managed to completely miss judge the final project and to a spectacular extent, which is extremely disappointing.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

DD306 - Living Political Lives - Final Project Score

My final project mark is an absolute disaster, and I don't understand what could have gone so wrong, but it has.

I've never had a TMA score or Exam score anywhere close to this low, so at present I am just a bit stunned.

Nothing I can do now, time to move on to something new.....

On the positive side, well done to everyone who finished their degree today, and congratulations to everyone who got what they wanted. It has been a long hard road, but completing a degree while contending with work, family and all that life throws at you is not easy - so time for reflection and celebration.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

DD306 - Living Political Lives : Course Review

Well that is the end of my PPE, and almost 7 years of association with the Open University, but I suppose a reflection on the entire course should come later, this post will concentrate on DD306.

DD306, completed over 2 years due to a deferral after TMA04 in favour of an alternative project.

Looking back on what has been an amazing two years in terms of UK and international politics, DD306 really had little to offer in terms of adding to the debate or understanding of real politics.

The course broke down into.....

The Entry Room looked at the Cold War
Room 1 was Representing the people
Room 2 was Political Animals
Room 3 was Religion in Politics
Room 4 was Body in Politics
Room 5 was Violence in Politics

Can'r remember learning anything new from the Entry Room.
Can't remember anything from Room 1.
Political Animals was at best a philosophical discussion - a bit too abstract to be useful.
Religion in Politics, far too narrow a discussion - probably for fear of offending religious folk.
Body in Politics, more of a history lesson on how discriminated against sections of our community got rights.
Violence in Politics - lessons from history.

This course was not nearly as enjoyable as the Economics module, but preferable to another Philosophy module. I have received very good marks on all TMAs, which makes me question the rigour of the subject, but I can't really point to anything that I can take away from this course as a real eye opener or incredible learning experience.

It has just been about churning the TMAs out and getting the marks I require for the level of degree I wish, but even that seems a bit lacking of luster.

We its over now - just the EMA score to come, then the award of the degree.

DD306 - Living Political,Lives : Well that's that then.

Well, that's that then.

Nearly seven years association with the OU is complete, I have submitted the final EMA.

I am not sure if I am ready for this. OU Student has been part of my identity for so long that I don't want to let go...... But I have no choice the journey has ended.

In the end th EMA was very stress free. 5 evenings writing, after a lot of preparation set up the basic EMA essay. I have then had two weeks relative stress free reflection to refine the essay.

I have to say, IF, and I emphasise, IF I have met the examiners question requirements I think I have nailed this.

I would like a distinction on this module, I was mark short on TMAs - but grade boundaries can shift, and I think this essay should certainly meet the absolute 70% requirement, but hopefully a lot more.

Well, I can do no more, except wait and hope I've done enough.

I believe will know by 19th July.......

Saturday, 13 May 2017

DD306 - Living Political Ideas : TMA06 Marked and Returned

Tantalisingly close to a Pass 1, which makes my overall OCAS equally tantalisingly close to a Pass 1, but alas not.

Unfortunetly, no idea what the comments are as I can't open them on my mobile device.

I suspect that the overall course grade boundaries are a bit flexible so not the end of the world.

So, just the EMA to get marked.

Friday, 12 May 2017

DD306 - Living Political Lives : Disappointed? Just a bit.

TMA06 deadline is just 3 weeks before the EMA deadline.

I submitted TMA06 over a week early.

Tutor knows I am going on holiday.

But here we are a couple of hours before I head to the airport and still no TMA06 returned marked.

Its not that I expect, or want, special treatment, but you'd think that by submitting extremely early you'd both get nearer to the front of the marking queue and give the tutor extra time to mark. Some students already have their TMA06 back which gives them a huge advantage towards finishing the EMA over folk that get it back with only a week to go.

As I have never found a way to download, and then open and display, the feedback zip file to my ipad, I may know the mark some time in the next week or so, but reading the feedback will have to wait until the 29th May.

The phrases 'cutting it fine' and 'taking it to the wire' spring to mind.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

DD306 - Living Political Ideas : The Final Leg

So, I have submitted an EMA.

I now have to prioritise my time...... And to be honest unless the mark for TMA06 is a disaster, I will probably prioritise my time canvassing for Labour over any adjustments to the EMA.

The leaked Labour manifesto is superb. Corbyn is taking us towards a country I want to live in where we look after those who are vunerable, the better off pay a bit more and we give everyone an equal chance and most importantly of all..... Hope.

Targeting loneliness in the elderly is so important, what other party has looked at that.

I think JC is going to peak at the right time, Mrs May and her auto-bot responses may have a fight on her hands.

Let our politics drift towards Scandinavia, not Trump's USA.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

DD306 - Living Political Lives : The Last Leg (5)

F I N I S H E D ! ! ! !

OK, maybe not exactly, but very close.

4,420 words - so some slight editing to do.

My main worry now is have I answered the question they asked or a question I wanted to answer.

"The state as a solution to violence as a living political idea".

I have a good intro, definitions and living ideas.

I have a good set up / theoretical section on the state and violence.

I have examples of the state and violence and legitimacy.

I have a section using the case studies.

I have a conclusion

Why am I doubting myself.

I am going to edit 21 words out, call it submission v1 and send it.

Revisions to come after a period of reflection, the return of my TMA, some thinking time whe on holiday and a panicked 48 hours when I return.

If I submit now and get hit by a bus tomorrow - it will do.

But I think there is some twists ad turns to come - still the wife will be happy.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

DD306 - Living Political Ideas : The Last Leg (4)

It could be writers block, but I wasn't really 'feeling it' tonight.

Still, moved the word count in the right direction by 500 words or so, sorted out both Nexis sources, the extra reading and the reference list - so not an entirely fruitless evening.

The problem is that its all been a bit full on lately and boredom is setting in.....

Hopefully, things will seem better tomorrow.

Monday, 8 May 2017

DD306 - Living Political Ideas : The Last Leg (3)

3,000 words.

.......... and most of them make sense.

Summary, Conclusion and tidy up to go in 1400 words.

The end is almost in sight.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

DD306 - Living Political Lives - The Last Leg (2)

2,201 words, now, and going together fairly well

As a first draft I have......

  • Intro                          : Done as much as I can, needs re-written once conclusion is finished.
  • Definitions                : Pretty much complete
  • How Ideas Live        : Pretty much complete
  • State and Violence    : Pretty much complete
  • State as a Solution     : Good start to this body of text - much to do though
  • State as a Source       : Good start to this body of text - much to do though
  • Summary                   : Not started
  • Conclusion                : Not started
I have Mon, Tues and Wed to effectively get this completed in draft version - max 4,400 words plus all the references etc. as my wife has made it very clear I will not be studying on holiday.

Then Monday 29th and Tuesday 30th to edit, polish, change and submit.

No pressure then. 

Saturday, 6 May 2017

DD306 - Living Political Lives - The Last Leg

Last every Open University tutorial today, and hopefully it will help toward the EMA.

At least it has galvanised me into action, and a reasonable start has been made, 950 words so far and some of it is pretty good.

Still, I just need to be better than 70%, and as every piece of written work has doe that so far, if I can put in the usual amount of effort this should be OK.

Friday, 5 May 2017

DD306 - Living Political Lives - EMA Last Minute Submission Rules

I have been reading the Online EMA Guidelines

Link here online-ema-guidelines.pdf

What has become clear to me (but check this for yourself) is...... we have until 23:59 on the 30th to submit the final version without penalty - and until 23:59 on the 31st but with a 10% points deduction.

MY Submission timetable:

  • 29th May - submit whatever I have, in whatever state it is.
  • 30th May - 11:30 - submit hopefully finished version of EMA.
  • 30th May - 23:00 - after re-reading, checking and if necessary changing stuff - final submission at 23:00, BUY ONLY is there is not a message that a penalty will be occurred.

Section 3.2 Says......

3.2     Penalty for late submission

Work received late but within 24 hours of the midnight grace period will be accepted 
for assessment but will be subject to a mark penalty. The penalty is a 10% points 
reduction or to a bare-pass level whichever gives the higher score (for example, 
where 40 is a bare-pass, 59 becomes 49 with the penalty, 45 becomes 40, 35 is 

If you have already made a submission before the end of the grace period, and then 
attempt another submission during the penalty period, the eTMA system will warn you 
that this later submission will attract the penalty. You will have the option of not 
continuing with the later submission if you don’t want your score to be subject to the 
penalty. If you continue with the later submission then the penalty will apply.

Right, lets get to this essay........

Thursday, 4 May 2017

DD306 - Living Political Lives - County Elections

Tomorrow, 4th May, are the County elections in much of England.

Unfortunately, this blog is unlikely to reach enough people or be persuasive enough to make a difference in these elections, and as much as I have tried to be party neural  since this blog stared, I cannot do this any longer.

I live in Buckinghamshire, the mainly Toty/UKIP County Council have made terrible errors and wasted millions of pounds on social care (a matter of public record) while driving services into the ground.

This does not effect me. I am lucky to have a well paid job, I have private medical insurance, I have a home.

And yet...... it all feels wrong.

The Tory's have an empty campaign, offering nothing but fear and personal attacks. This is a campaign orchestrated by Linton Crosby, who won the last election for Cameron on lies, a bacon bitty and xenophobic fear of the SNP.

Corbyn may not be the most polished politician, but would you trust him..... I would.

Teresa May is now complaining about the EU trying to effect the outcome of the election..... this is amazing, possibly beyond parody, she made the election about BREXIT, why wouldn't the EU respond.

As has been said by somebody cleverer than I (sorry not sure who)....

She is a rich banker, married to a rich banker, working for rich bankers, trying to convince the middle class that it is the poor who are to blame.

Lets get together, work for a better future together.

I have met members of my local Labour party. These are honest, good, reliable people going into politics because  nobody else is represeneting them and honest good folk. In comparison, the current County Council and Government seem to be full of folk with something to gain personally.

Think about it carefully, vote responsibly.


Tuesday, 2 May 2017

DD306 - Living Political Lives - A diplomatic mission

guten Abend,

Somebody had to do it...... so I am here in Germany trying to repair a 'Teresa May' size hole in diplomatic relations.

It ain't gonna be easy, as she seems to have really fucked it up this time.

But I have helped the German economy to the tune of one schnitzel and fritz washed down with 3 beers (large) and I have apologised a lot.

It is indeed a strange year to have been studying politics.......



and now the MAYHEM election........

I can't repair European relations all on my own, there simply isn't enough beer........please . people of the UK please ask yourself this simple question......

Do you want a government by the rich for the rich, with local services slashed and food banks on the increase.....


A reasonable government asking the very rich to pay a bit more towards the UK government institutions and citizens that they rely on for their mega wealth, while looking after those most vulnerable.

It really is this simple

First lets get a government with a social conscience, once we have that we can tackle the BREXIT problem by abandoning it.

DD306 - Living Political Lives - Last TMA submitted

That's that then, the last TMA has been submitted, only the EMA to go.

I have been concentrating on the TMA and its question,
"What is the relationship between politics and violence? Discuss using at least TWO theorists and TWO case studies discussed in Room 5."

Since submitting the TMA I have had a good look at the EMA question in more detail, and its blah, blah, blah, blah explore the extent to which the state as a solution to violence is a living political idea. 

To say there is quite a lot of overlap is an understatement, although for the EMA I need another 2000 words and significantly more nuanced argument.

The last TMA was sort of dashed off, but still took a load of time. Not too concerned about the mark, but would like above 75%, we shall see, the returned TMA is probably 3 weeks away, and we have to get through the last tutorial/day school first.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

DD306 - Living Political Lives: How much busier can things get.......

Things are not going to plan.....

  • Changes at work have led to multiple foreign visits over the last month, and this will continue into May.
  • I am 50 in May and so we are going on holiday the two weeks before the EMA is due - looks like I will be studying on holiday which will not go down well with the Mrs.
  • I am a member of the Labour Party, so trying ti help leaflet and canvass for the County elections on 4th May. 
  • AND NOW a General Election on 8th June.........
This is quite possible the definition of the perfect storm.

Why is Mrs May(hem) calling the election when she stated on multiple occasions that she wouldn't, there are many theories,

  1.  Well ahead in the polls and a chance to put Labour to the sword.
  2.  Several (maybe 20) Tory MPs about to be prosecuted for electoral fraud from 2015.
  3.  Just had a brain fart when on a walking holiday
but whatever the reason...... please Britain, and when I say Britain I mean England and Wales, look into the party manifestos and compare them with what is being done.... and don't fuck it up this time.

Mrs May(hem) appears to be getting an easy ride from the right wing media and is being allowed to clam she is for social justice....... seriously where would you start with this,
  • Loss of housing benefit for the young.... where are they supposed to live.
  • Bedroom tax.... 'cos the poor shouldn't have a guest room.
  • Reduction of carers allowance.... they are saving the country millions on care costs and deserve more support.
  • Reduction of disability allowance...... 'cos the most vulnerable on society are easy to shit on.
  • School budgets rising below costs increased by this government such as NI
  • NHS funding stagnant and a creeping privatisation of services to companies trying to make profit from care service.
  • Tax beaks for the super rich and big business....
  • A general demonisation of the poor, disabled and vulnerable in society - these people did not cause the financial crash.........
The people that caused the financial crash are.....
  • Those that fast tracked Cameron to power, and once he could no longer protect the non-doms and tax avoiders he was of no further use..... and his desire to be a constituency MP and fight for his constituents, the people of Whitney, lasted possibly weeks.As did Osborne.
  • Mrs & Mr May(hem) both city brokers are obviously on the side of the JAMs - my arse - another Tory appointment to protect the super rich at the expense of the general public
For heaven's sake people, look past the right wing and Linton Crosby inspired attacks on Corbyn.
They won the last election on lies, a photo of a bacon butty and xenophobic fear of the SNP, don't let them do it again.

Corbyn is not FAR LEFT. In Scandinavia, where fairness, equality and opportunity for all is common, he would be seen as middle of the road. What is wrong with expecting the richest to pay more tax to help these least fortunate in society. The richest and the big business take the most from society and rely on societies institutions and frameworks which are paid for by all tax payers, even though most don;t benefit directly from them.

I don't need a trading standards, port authority, a comprehensive transport network, customs, the judiciary and UK financial institutions on a day to day basis, but I pay for it, and at a higher rate than the businesses that rely on them for their massive profits.

Teresa May (as Cameron before her) talks about getting the best deal, but the best deal for whom.  Society is fragmented, there is no one best deal...... could the deal she is talking about the best deal for the super rich Tory donors - it must be - they are paying all of this money to the Tory party for something - what do you think it is.......

WAKE UP ENGLAND...... look past the sound bites and right wing press headlines, the Tory's are taking you all for a fool.

If you do nothing else please, please, please do this. 

Read Rawls...........

Rawls suggests that you imagine yourself in an original position behind a veil of ignorance. Behind this veil, you know nothing of yourself and your natural abilities, or your position in society. You know nothing of your sex, race, nationality, or individual tastes.

Behind this veil of ignorance you are then asked to vote in the County elections on May 4th and the General Election on June 8th, you don't know if you are.....
  • On a zero hours, minimum wage, contract trying to provide for your kids and wife.
  • A full time carer for your spouse who has a severe condition.
  • A hard working 'JAM', in mortgage poverty due to untenable house prices.
  • An unemployed graduate with crippling student debt forced you live back home with parents.
  • Somebody with psychiatric problems discharged from a care unit due to cuts and without any support plan.
  • Somebody with a good job who is worrying about their elderly parents care, their children's education and housing, and their own pension provision and retirement date.
  • A German surgical consultant wondering if BREXIT will mean exit for their career in the UK - their are no shortage of jobs back in the EU.
  • One of the 4% to 5% of super rich who are banking (quite literally) on Tory councillors and government to slash funded services but privatise what's left to G4S as lots of Tory's have invested in them.
Given you don't  know who you are from the above suggestions...... who would you vote for...

There is only one main party committed to a better fairer Britain, the other will look after their donors, grandees and friends through the old boys network.

This is not a forgone conclusion. In the last election more registered voters didn't vote, than voted for the Tories

So...... people of Britain, you have a choice, please have along, hard, think about things......

.............and don't fuck it up this time.

I understand that not everyone will agree with this, if you don't agree please leave a comment and then we can have a discussion......

Monday, 17 April 2017

DD306 - Living Political Lives - where did that week go.....

Spent a week in Nepal and with one thing and another, time difference, jet-lag, work, sight seeing, I managed to do not a bit of study.

Better crack on today then

Saturday, 8 April 2017

DD306 - Living Political Lives : TMA06 Tutorial

Last TMA tutorial today which was disappointingly attended.

I don't understand why more folk don't go, I got some good ideas for the TMA and the discussions were, on the whole, informative.

So, just the tutorial for the EMA to go and that will be my face to face interaction with the Open University finished.

So, the plan is to churn the TMA out in the week after Easter, and try and get the EMA written in rough form before I go on holiday in May. Don't expect, or want, to do anything on holiday, so will have 36 hrs when I get back to re-read, polish and submit.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

DD306 - Living Political Lives - TMA05 Marked and Returned

TMA 05 came back this morning and I'm pretty pleased with the result, pretty high Grade 2, not too far off of a Grade 1.

However, it now means that unless they slip the grade boundaries, a distinction in this module is pretty unlikely unless I somehow manage to get a point better then the best mark I've had in this course and I don't see that happening on the last TMA as I will be concentrating on the EMA from now on. The better news is that missing a grade 2 on the TMAs is pretty much impossible unless I really make a mess of the last TMA, so its all about getting over 70% on the EMA.

Interesting comments from my new tutor. They are the first tutor to actually correct grammar and wording of my essays, to make them read correctly or better. This shows how hard it is to proof read your own work, as some of the corrections I should have seen myself. 

Also, they pretty much savaged some of my referencing, which has never happened before - but at least they gave clues as to what was required.

So, one TMA and one EMA to go.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

DD306 - Living Political Lives : Still no TMA05 mark back

What is says above.

Very disheartening, very demotivating, very disappointing.

We pay a lot of money to the OU for access to their website, books, seven 2 hour tutorials and to have our assignments marked. While I accept they can't mark them all immediately, mine was submitted pretty early. Hopefully, they will spend much of the weekend marking and I will get this one back shortly.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

DD306 - Living Political Lives: what is the point of the TMA reflection.......

This was my last to find a tutor who marks TMAs really quickly (apparently they do exist), 6th module and 7th tutor, but so far nothing back.

So, I'll moan about something else while I'm here. What is the point of the 50 word TMA self reflections that are a required part of this course. I cannot see what information can be understood or conveyed in these 50 words, the whole exercise seems a complete waiste of a couple of minutes of our valuable time.

I shall add this to the list of unanswered questions such as what is the point of the substitution calculation, especially in light of the fact that grade boundaries are flexible.

I will ask these again when the course survey comes round, but doubt there will be an answer this time either.

Time to check the website again........

Monday, 27 March 2017

DD306 - Living Political Lives : Impatient for my TMA result

The TMA deadline has passed, so I'll now get to see how prompt my new tutor is. Considering I submitted well before the deadline, I'd hope mine will be a prompt return.

This is my first TMA in a year, and so I am impatient for the mark, although to be honest due to the scores in the other 4 TMAs the mark is pretty unimportant for my overall grade, but very important as far as motivation and confidence is concerned leading into the last TMA and the EMA.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

DD306 - Living Political Lives - Room 5 (the final module)

I've been at this degree for six and a half years, basically a module a year and a year off to concentrate on my Edinburgh Fringe show, and now I am starting the last module and have only 1 TMA and 1 EMA to go to finish the degree.

TMA is due before 8th May, and the EMA before 30th May. I have made this a bit more difficult by booking holiday 12th to 28th May, and regardless of my best intentions, I never get anything done on holiday, so best get it sorted as soon as possible.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

DD306 - Living Political Lives - Week 23

TMA week

The first TMA for over a year has been submitted.

I am pretty sure I have answered the question. Was going to look at the problems of political representation for the disabled and LGBT communities, but simply ran out of words discussing disability - so that is what it is on.

The course notes seemed to be steering folk towards discussing gender and sexuality - so I have concentrated on the disabled, specifically those with learning disabilities.

I think it is pretty good, the proof will be in the mark though.

Monday, 27 February 2017

DD306 - Living Political Ideas - Week 22

I guess its week 22 for me, so difficult to tell.

Well, I have read everything, made copious notes.

Some of it was interesting, some of it was mind-numbingly tedious.

Now to craft a TMA.

First one for over a year, and to a new tutor, so lets tun the handle and see what happens.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

DD306 - Living Political Ideas - Week 19

Oh well, all the good intentions t get ahead of this course evaporated without trace and so I am now with little choice but to engage with the proposed timetable.

'How is the body political' will be an interesting section as I have relatives with Downs Syndrome, Parkinson's and age related dementia and I also have colleagues, some of whom are, disabled, transgender or homosexual, so I have a range of experience of how your body can effect your choices and ability to have your voice heard.

Time to get the reading done and churn out the first TMA for over a year, then it is on to the state and violence for the last TMA and the final EMA.

Monday, 2 January 2017

DD306 - Living Political Ideas: Happy New Year

Not a page read, not a jot of work done, so my New Year's resolution is to start this course, at Room 4, as soon as possible.