I was warned by the OU, when I registered for this course, that it wasn't a very good idea to choose a level 2 course for my first course. I said that I thought I'd be OK as I had a big interest in geology. They still expressed some alarm, but were very helpful. When I said that I was a little worried about any maths content, they sent me the book "The Science Good Study Guide" (which is a set book for S103) on loan. It was so good that I bought my own copy! I then purchased the book "Teach Yourself Geology" by David Rothery (S260 Exam Board Chairman), which was also excellent and I would recommend it to anybody for a great introduction to the subject (does that get me extra marks, Dave?!? :)) However, if I had thought that parts of that book had been a little hard going, I was in for a very rude awakening!
The home kit arrived. Smashing - really, really smashing! About 30 rocks, a dozen or so fossil casts, several minerals, a box of rock thin sections and the petrological microscope! I felt like a scientist; just lacking the white coat! On top of that, there were videos and cd-roms, the first course book and the first TMA and CMA. Heavens - so many big words and I began to have severe doubts as to my abilities.
Maps and Landscape
This was very difficult and taught how to recognise landscape features from geological maps and how to transfer the information onto cross-sections and then how to interpret the geological history. I found it difficult to see some of the features on the maps and resorted to using a magnifying glass! The TMA comprised some general map questions (15/31), a (graphed) cross-section, comprised of faults, horsts and grabens (6/9) and some really tricky mathematical-type questions along with a map to turn into a work of art cross-section! It took me ages to sort the thing out and even then, I missed out one whole syncline! (42/60)
My First Cross-Section
So, my score for my first TMA was 63% and I was fairly happy with that.
I thought the mapwork was hard?!?! This block was amazing! Tons of chemistry and not a little physics of light! We had to learn crystal structures and how the microscope worked, before being allowed to play! Then it was eye to the glass and many, many thin sections, drawings of cross-sections and journeys into the realms of the unknown!!
At the end of the block there was a CMA to send in. I got 81% for it - I'll never know how!
Internal processes - igneous intrusions, volcanoes, plate tectonics, metamorphism. Gruesome stuff and I rather whipped through this block because I was doing another course (TT280) at the same time! The TMA wasn't *too* bad - although it included some work from Block 2 (rock identifying - got it right!) as well as the Block 3 horrors of metamorphism and a bit of a tricky (mathematical) blighter regarding deformations and squashed trilobites and crinoids. I did surprisingly well on that question - and my total for the TMA was 65%, so a slight improvement on the first!
This block was about twice as long as all the others and we had such little time to complete it (taking a holiday didn't help!). It was concerned with sedimentary processes, fossil classification, palaeobiology and sedimentary environments (using graphic logs). A bit of a rushed effort this one - and I had to rush with the TMA too and only managed 56% (I appeared to have a fixation for lagoons!). However, that did mean that I had passed the coursework with room to spare (there is also a CMA, covering all four blocks, which has been submitted; awaiting mark. 26/09/02 22:18:30 - Received this morning - 65%. So-so. Coursework mark = 64.6%.)
The examination was on 15th October and I await the result in December, with nervousness! I am hoping that I've managed that magical 40% mark and am cautiously optimistic that I *might've* done enough.
I PASSED!! 60%!! Grade 3!! DELIGHTED!!
Whatever happens though, I have thoroughly enjoyed the course and have learnt absolutely heaps! The course was brilliant - I wasn't. Should've done S103 first! :) (Bah - humbug!!)