Back to normal – finally!

Ok. This week things went back to normal, as I finally finished moving into my new place. Surprisingly, my studies didn’t actually suffer that much. Part of the reason are, of course, my very flexible working hours, with quite some time off during the day. Another reason is the course structure of postgrad studies. I remember with shudder the days of my undergrad studies at the OU, when allocated study time was strictly to be adhered to, or vital readings were missed. This in turn meant a lack of information for the assignments and running the risk of getting a low mark suffered. The pressure to keep up with the readings therefore was quite intense.

Now it’s not that strict anymore. As postgrad student you are not that much patronized anymore. There is a weekly reading list, yes, with anywhere between 5 and 100 items on it. Yet, what exactly and how much is read is not so important for the essay question. (There are ten questions to choose from, which narrows down readings quite substantially, although papers are interesting even when they aren’t related to the final assignment.) Obviously, no one expects students to study 20 papers per week. I generally opt for five to eight per week. Exactly how many is really a matter of circumstances. Because distance learners have to juggle many commitments, they are sometimes forced to do as little as one hour (in very unfortunate circumstances none at all) of studying per day, whereas campus based students can potentially remain engaged in their subject via societies, peer discussions etc. for a much longer time.

To keep us distance learners focused each week is accompanied by three questions to be answered in a respective forum. In my current course ‘Theories of International Relations’ discussion in the forums is rather slow, although I don’t have a right to complain, since I myself have not been able to contribute as much as I wished. Participation is not mandatory. The department takes serious the often irregular and unstable conditions (and it’s nothing else) distance learners conduct their studies in. What they are uncompromising in, however, are the deadlines. There are various activities from article analysis to creating an essay plan, and, of course, the end of module assignment itself, that have to uploaded to the university’s ‘Turnitin’-system. And exactly these deadlines provide for guidance and discipline when things get too rough – you just can’t occupy yourself with anything else than studying when a deadline is coming up.

Speaking of deadlines – they always approach much faster than I bargain for, so I better go and do some research. Back to normal after all.

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Chris

About Chris

Chris has now graduated from the University of Leicester. Hi there. I’m native German and live in Santiago de Chile. I’m en route to an MA International Relations and World Order via distance learning. My hobbies are languages and – surprise – International Relations. I will blog about everything here and there, as well as the uphill battles distance learners fight.

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