Choosing my final Stage 2 modules

Photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash

Registration for next year’s modules opened during the middle of this month. So, as ever, I was on hand at midnight to sign up. I don’t think I need to be this early. Although, you don’t want to leave it too late, lest you risk ending up on the waiting list.

I understand that some of the computing and IT modules are some of the most over-subscribed at the Open University. So, I would not recommend leaving registration until the summer months and certainly not right before the deadline, which is sometime in August/ September (for modules starting in October).

I always knew I would be choosing M269 Algorithms, data structures and computability as one of my final Stage 2 modules. I am on the Computer Science pathway through the BSc (Hons) Computing and IT degree, and it is the final compulsory module.

With M269, I will be reacquainting myself with Python again. I enjoy programming and I enjoyed the maths module I took in Stage 1. This will be the hardcore computer science module. I am not expecting it to be easy, but I am looking forward to the challenge. M269 has changed recently. There used to be several textbooks but now it is all delivered online using Jupyter notebooks (similar to the Robotics block of TM129). The other not so insignificant change is that there is no longer an exam. Just three TMAs.

My real dilemma was which module I was going to choose to complete Stage 2.  My choices comprised:

I had my fill of networking during TM129, so I crossed off TM257 right off the bat.

TM255, I was considering for quite a while but, I must admit, the group project did put me off. How would that work in a remote environment?

I have never heard a good word about TM254. I am not sure whether it is true but somebody (though it may have been more than one) described it as the most boring module ever. Regardless, I am not that much interested in a year-long IT project management module.

T227, I think, needs to be related to a workplace setting. Given that my current job has little directly to do with computing and IT, I ruled this one out too.

So, that really left me with TM256. I must admit, I was excited about this module ever since I attended the presentation on R60 – the new BSc (Hons) Cybersecurity degree in August 2020. It is a new module, currently in its first presentation, on a cutting-edge topic. Studying TM256 is also a pre-requisite for one of the two new Stage 3 cyber security modules, TM359 Systems Penetration Testing. Unfortunately, the other Stage 3 cyber security module, TM311 Information Security, is only available to students on the R60 degree.

I know that the networking module, TM257, is compulsory on the R60 degree, which implies that networking will be an important part of the cyber security modules. That’s fine, I can live with that. I believe programming and cyber security skills are also a good mix. I have also enjoyed when other modules, such as TM112, TM129 and, more recently, TT284 have touched upon security issues. Digital forensics is intriguing too.

Unlike most other modules, TM256 only starts in February and finishes in September. It also has an exam. However, it will be a remote exam, as with all Open University exams until at least the end of 2023.

I am now signed up for both M269 and TM256. This means that I will be studying M269 on its own from October to January, both modules between February and May, and then only TM256 from June to September. So, only four months of overlap. It has been tough studying two Stage 2 modules at the same time, so roughly two-thirds of my time studying one module should be a big improvement.

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  1. Doing TM311 and TM256 this year. You will enjoy TM256. Very good content – but all online.

    1. Thanks, I hope so. I am quite looking forward to it, maybe not the exam so much after my experience of M250.

  2. Hi Luke,
    Thanks for the posts. They’re really helpful in helping me to understand what’s in store. I’m on TM256 at the moment. There’s a lot to commend it but you can tell it’s the first presentation. I imagine a lot will be ironed out for next year. The module material includes some practical work but there is almost no practical work on the TMAs which is a real shame. I’d say that’s the main weakness from my point of view. The tutors have said that they are laying groundwork for level 3. I’m just preparing for the exam now and hoping to do TR284 next year. Good luck

    1. Hi Sarah, thanks for the kind words and for the heads up on TM256. I have enjoyed the practical work in previous modules because the marking seems less subjective than the essay questions and, usually, it’s fun! So, it’s a pity there’s not more of it in the TMAs. Maybe the Module Team will change that for next year’s presentation. Here’s hoping! Anyway, good luck with the exam in September – I hope it goes smoothly – and with TT284; there’s a fair bit of practical work in that one.

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