Saturday, 20 November 2010

Decisions Decisions

As many people reading this blog will know one of the endless games one gets into as an OU student is planning ahead. This involves a combination of planning ahead and keeping an eye on what will be available years ahead, also constraints of time and finances etc.  My problem is compounded as I have ambitions in both philosophy and mathematics. The maths plan is fairly straightforward although I was dithering as to its final form. Anyway I think its more or less finalised. I aim to complete a degree in Mathematics and Statistics.
by end of 2012 and then embark on the MSc

To this end I need the following compulsory courses

MST121 and MS221 of which I've completed both see earlier blog 30 points each.

Statistics 4 courses
Level 2
M248 Analysing Data                           30  points     Completed 2008   Grade 3 pass
M249 Applied Statistics                       30 points       Completed 2008  Grade 2 pass
Level 3
M343 Probability                                  30 points     Completed 2009  Grade 4 pass (bombed exam completely)
M346 Linear Statisitical Modelling         Still to do.

These 4 courses form a diploma in Statistics

In 2012 there will be another statistics course M347 called mathematical statistics. However after a long correspondence on the First Class conference I found out that whilst M346 was deemed necessary for the degree M347 is optional. This somewhat dismayed me as M346 is essentially a computer based course with little or no explanation of the underlying mathematics as incidentlally M249 was. Also the programme used is GenStat the  licence of which runs out after the course so any skills learnt are not transferable. However after much soul searching bearing in mind I want the degree finished in two years to start the MSc in 2013. I've decided to do it this year. I will get a diploma at the end of 2011 and be put in a strong positon to finish the degree in 2012.

Then there is an option to pursus an Applied or Pure Track. For me the choice was obvious I need to understand pure maths for my other ambitions. Also I'm familiar with much of the content of the OU applied maths/ physics courses.

So its M208 Pure Maths (60 points)
         M337 Complex Analysis (30 points)
I have to do Complex Analysis this year as it's only presented in even years. So that with M346 fills my quota for the year (You are only allowed 120 points per year)

That leaves 2012 The other two Pure maths courses I can do this year are
         M336 Group Theory                                                           30
         M338 Topology (The last time its going to be presented)     30

I could then cheat and include one of my second level arts courses as a free option and get the degree but it seems a Cheat and also I want to revise some of  my mathematical modelling skills. So the obvious course to do is M326 Mathematical methods and Fluid dynamics. However after 2011 it doesn't run again until October 2012. That suits me as for reasons to be explained below I want to do the 3rd level Philosophy course Philosophy of Mind which would round off my OU Arts studies nicely. Technically that would mean doing 150 points in 2012 but given the shift of starts I'm sure I'll get away with it. So thats the Maths degree sorted.

Now for my philosophy ambitions to tidy up the Open university Arts Options

My situation is as follows I first started Open university studies 10 years ago by doing the diploma in music the courses I studied were

A214           Understanding  Music     2nd Level    Grade 2 pass  60 points    2001  
AA314         Studies in Musc             3rd Level     Grade 3 pass  60 points    2002

This led to a diploma in music. I then toyed with the idea of doing their MA in music but was put off by the fact that the MA did not allow for analysis of musical works but concentrated on the history of performance and the reception of works. Not really what I wanted. Due to other pressures I stopped my OU studies made some fitful starts on some courses but didn't finish them.

I then had the idea of doing the degree in Philosophy and Psychological Studies as a preliminary to doing postgraduate research in philosophy. I'll talk about this in more detail later but I've alternated as to what would be the best course for me to pursue this ambition within a reasonable time scale. Anyway as a result I did the Foundation course in Social sciences

DD100      Foundation Course in Social Sciences  (October 2006 - 2007)         Pass
DSE212    Introduction to psychology                    October 2007                      Grade 3

And then I would have alternated between Philosophy and the Human Condition, Cognitive Psychology and
Philosophy of the mind. Howver as a result of the psychology course which I didn't really enjoy I got into statisitcs which I did enjoy so started the Diploma in Statistics . Also I became suspicious of the relevance of the Open University philosophy courses to what I really wanted to do (a suspicion I still have but I've learnt to live with it). Ok so having abandoned psychology I concentrated on Statistics which lead to the fully fledged maths degree. I had planned to embark on the external London BA in Philosophy in 2008

With tuition available from Pathways

And if I were starting this journey again that would be the Path I would follow. However again time procrastination and so forth led to me putting it off. Also as it was easier to continue doing the OU courses I decided to do A211  Philosophy and the Human condition whilst concurrently building up a portfolio of courses which count as 10 points towards accreditation from the Depatment of continuing education at Edinburgh and Oxford University.

So far I've completed 30 points

Philosophy of language   Edinburgh     Jan   - Mar        2009      
Metaphysics                  Oxford          Apr - August     2009
Ethics                            Edinburgh      Sept - Dec        2009

And then did A211 this year. 

Next spring I hope to do a course on Hume at Edinburgh and then either an Oxford course or some of the Pathways courses

which although not credited have got quite a reputation. I want to study metaphysics and the philosophy of language in more depth.

I'll round all the philosophy off by doing the level three OU course in the philosophy of mind in 2012.That would mean my OU Arts courses would combine to give me an Open degree. If I were vain enough I could turn an Open degree into a named degree in humanities with music and philosophy but I would have to do another Arts course.

 I should then be in a  reasonable position to formulate a research proposal (of which more later) even though I would not have a fully fledged philosophy degree.  I hope to  start part time research in either 2013 or 2014. I might take advantage of Geoffrey Klempner's associateship and fellowship awards of the ISFP to help me formulate my research proposals better. The field I want to explore would be the relationship between current ideas in the philosophy of language epistemology and the interpretation of quantum mechanics. Specifically for those who know about it the research would explore the connection between Dummett's claim that realism is commited to bivalence (ie something is either true or false)  and the fact that the current mathematical formalism of quantum mechanics is not bivalent and hence intrinsically non-realist.  I'll expound more in another post. After long agonising this seems the best way forward, if I were to do the London BA it would be at least another five years before I could complete it and that would only postpone the ambition to do research in philosophy. I do feel slightly guilty that I wont be doing the best available qualification in philosophy available to me but I'm aware of its contents and have familiarised myself with the exams  and reading lists so I'll pursue those on my own anyway. 






  1. hi Chris,

    Compared to this post my ( forthcoming, not released yet ) post on planning is embarrassing. ;-)
    You seem much more self-assured in relation to studying than me, more ambitious too, although I have a goal to work towards. You got it all worked out up to the point of actually having planned for writing a research proposal! I would be very content if I will ever be able to -read- an article in the journal of algebra. Let alone contributing one!

    I noticed how you utilize blogging as a form of brainstorming and/or reflection. I suppose that explains part of its popularity.

    kind regards,

  2. Hi Nilo you do flatter me. As my research aims are in philosophy rathher than maths its a bit easier I would argue to get into than research in pure maths. I do like the brainstorming aspect of blogging. It was reading blogs like yours and Neils that inspired me.

  3. Jings! And I thought that I had problems...I'm worrying about a couple of ten-pointers.
    Actually it's a wee bit more than that. I've definetely decided on number theory, but now all the rest is up in the air maths-wise [I'd been planning an AI computer strand(sic) so graph theoty and optimization were planned]. But now I'm not so sure. And I do, like Nilo, love them ther' Groups; topology, I fancy a brain-fuck, and if you're doing the course...
    Plans eh? Still let's wait upon the M208 books dropping through that letter-box...

    I'm having fun failing to set up a source repository for M257 @ the mom...I've decided that I need help with my solitaire rubbish!
    aw ra best...


  4. Yes I think Topology will be the most challenging course. Still you can get a small glimpse of what its like by visiting the Maths and Stats page

    and downloading the appropriate units. the concept of continuity seems to play a major part which is why I beelined through Brannan to try and understand the epsilon delta definition. Get that sorted and I think you are half way there. Topology and Group theory have played a major part in modern physics which is why I want to do those courses in 2012. Also it looks like 2012 is the last time you will be able to do topology on its own before they merge the current 4 30 point level courses into 1 60 pointer with an obvious loss of content.

  5. Hi there Chris,
    Did you actually do M347 Mathematical Statistics ? Thanks
    I'm interested in the PDF course material downloads.

  6. No I didn't one alternative which is free is the second level statistics course from SAYLOR I enclose a link below

    I've been doing their microeconomics course and also as revision Calculus of a single variable.

    With all this free stuff which is gradually getting recognised the Open University is going to have to raise it's game