Studying online with the OU has suited my personal circumstances as a retiree and a full-time carer. It has been an interesting, enlightening and challenging experience that has added to the purpose of retirement.
John is the 2019 winner of the Tom Bingham Memorial Essay Prize. Now retired, he is hoping to fulfil a long-term ambition to obtain a degree in law after half a century! Following his graduation with a BSc in Zoology in 1968, he enrolled to study law part-time at the University of London but a career opportunity and move to Scotland ended his studies. As a retiree and a full-time carer, studying online with the OU has suited his personal circumstances.
“Distance learning and the course design provide the flexibility I require. My enjoyment of OU TV and radio programmes and the recommendations of friends who have studied with the OU were important factors in my decision to enrol with the OU, rather than another online provider.
“It has been an interesting, enlightening and challenging experience that has added to the purpose of retirement. I have thoroughly enjoyed my studies to date and expect to complete my degree in 2020.
“I have been impressed by the quality of the comprehensive and helpful feedback provided by my tutors. Their comments on my work, suggestions for improvements, and guidance on how to approach both problem and essay assignments have enabled me to perform much better than I had expected. Indeed, the guidance I have been given on how to write an academic law essay enabled me to win this year’s Tom Bingham Memorial Prize.
“The course clearly demonstrates the relevance of the law to our everyday lives while also examining the law from a historical perspective. It shows the law to be a dynamic and evolving subject, ever being challenged and subject to change influenced by political and societal attitudes.
“And the course challenges conventional thinking, it is thought provoking, and it asks the student to analyse and problem solve, rather than learn by rote; that is, the course encourages meaningful learning.
“I like that the student has the flexibility to select (so mix and match) different methods of learning that are conducive to their preferred and effective learning style(s). For example, the course provides for verbal, aural, visual, interpersonal and intrapersonal learning styles.
“The OU course assignments provided for my preferred learning style. I find that I learn most effectively by ‘doing’; that is, by direct experience. I prefer to focus on a task or a theme, such as in the tutor marked assignments (TMAs), and to research that task or theme. A self-directed, iterative approach to learning with frequent reflection and refinement served me well throughout my career and, indeed, in my three completed OU modules.
“However, I believe that the intention is for all the course elements to be used, and I would encourage others to do so. In particular, I found the online tutorials to be most instructive, and the group activities to be challenging and enjoyable.”
The Tom Bingham Memorial Essay Prize is a joint initiative of the OU Law School and the OU Law Society which commemorates a British barrister and judge, the Rt Hon the Lord Bingham of Cornhill (1933-2010), who served as Master of the Rolls, Lord Chief Justice and as Senior Lord of Appeal. Lord Bingham’s book, The Rule of Law, posthumously won the Orwell Prize for political writing in 2011.
John received £250 and a certificate for winning the competition which is generously funded by Lord Bingham’s former chambers, Fountain Court Chambers.