Psychology degree or conversion diploma?

I had a conversation recently with a fellow OU psychology student who told me she’d decided to switch from the (soon to be defunct) conversion diploma in psychology to the degree course. Her rationale was that a degree is more widely recognised by other people than the conversion diploma (and it takes far less time to explain what it is!) and that the credit transfer unit at the OU had awarded her the 75 credits of ‘free choice’ she needed to reach the required 360 credits for the psychology B.Sc. from her first degree.

This conversation has really got me thinking. To complete the conversion diploma you require 255 credits of study, made up from DSE212, ED209, DXR222 (or DZX222), DD303 and DD307. I’ve completed four of these courses already and have a place confirmed on DD307 next year.

To complete the degree requires exactly the same set of courses, plus the 30 credit SD226 – biological psychology course and 75 credits from anywhere else. As I’ve blogged before, I’m really not keen on the idea of taking this course, not because of its legendary status of being a 30 credit course which requires 60 credits of effort, but because I don’t like ‘yukky diagrams of the brain‘. (Yes, I know how wussy that sounds).

I spoke to the credit transfer unit at the OU and on the basis of the information they’ve given me so far, my 1985 degree in Computer Science should give me the additional 75 credits I would need for the B.Sc.  In fact, it looks as if any degree from anywhere in the UK and Ireland, started and awarded after January 1971 would do the trick.

So, for an additional 30 credits (and £390) it looks as if I could obtain a second degree. What’s even more attractive is that I would only need to gain a pass on SD226, as I already have 120 credits from level 2 at distinction. So even if I put almost no effort into it, my SD226 mark wouldn’t affect my overall degree classification, so long as I passed. With no final examination at the end of SD226 (it’s assessed on 4 TMAs and an end of course assignment (ECA)), I’m now very tempted to change track.

If I do decide to, I have to make a decision before 22nd December if I’m going to take SD226 next year. Given the huge uncertainty over fees from 2012 at the OU, I also think it’s a case of it being now or never for me. Taking SD226 next year would also mean I could still start my masters in 2012!

90 points from SD226 and DD307 in the same year and a (more than) full-time job.

How hard can it be? I think I may be about to find out …

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Reader Comments

  1. Kathy Clark

    Tim, dont do it!! I’ve done both DD303 and SD226 and they are both intensive, time consuming courses. Yes I think you should do the full degree, I have. Why the issue about not doing SD226 at a later date? Is it because it will be another year for you?

    I honestly think that if you are chasing a good degree grade (first, 2:1) then you limit your chances by doing both courses simultaneously. If you have to do them both next year, then can you stagger the start dates?

    In terms of SD226 i actually really enjoyed it once the shock of doing brain biology was over. Finding out about things like addiction, alzheimers, and parkinsons felt very ‘real’ and although it was hard, it was hugely rewarding and made many of the puzzle pieces fit together. And the advantage of no exam.

    One more tip I’d give about DD303 – leave yourself oodles of time for your mid-course project, particularly the transcribing because it takes much more time than the course team suggests.

    BTW I have an IT degree and they gave me 105 credit point, more than enough.

    If you want to chat about either of these courses, then i’m happy to do so.


    • tim

      Thanks for your advice Kathy – I appreciate it. I guess another reason I’m thinking about it is that if I do go on and do the masters (which I can do with the diploma), then having a bit more of the biological background would help. However, there’s no real reason I’d have to do SD226 next year and I could do it in 2012 instead.

      I’m going to wait until I get my DD303 result and then decide – there’s a few days between the result and the 22nd December to think about what to do. If by some chance I do end up with a distinction on DD303 (though the more I think about my exam performance the more I can’t see that happening), then there is nothing to lose doing both together as a pass 4 on SD226 and a pass 3 on DD307 should still mean I’d end up with a 1st. If I don’t get the distinction on DD303, then what you’ve said makes total sense – I can hang on another year before I do SD226 to give myself the best possible chance at a high mark on DD307.

      The question is really – why am I doing the course anyway? For me, it’s meant to be for fun. I may not have as much fun doing SD226 and DD307 simultaneously I suppose – which is definitely another consideration. Though as my daughter pointed out in her comment, I’d have the bragging rights chez Holyoake! But much as that’s tempting, it’s not really a good enough reason for doing the 90 points together.

  2. Arnold

    You have to do SD226… I will need your notes from it 🙂

    Seriously though, it does seem crazy not to add another degree when there’s so little practical difference in doing it as compared to stopping at the diploma. I hadn’t considered the credit transfer business either but may be looking into it some more if the price hikes post 2012 are anything like the worst estimates.

  3. Rain

    Hi Tim,

    I think you should go for it. I did both DD307 and SD226 together the year before I did DD303. I found it hard at first but then got into it and it was fine (I work too and have two children). DD307 has alot less reading and books than any of the other psychology courses, so this helps. After reading and using your notes (DD303) this year I am certain you will be fine. SD226 is actually quite interesting. I had no biology background and I still managed fine. I got a grade 2 for both courses, so I was happy.

  4. mazal

    Hi I’ve only got this DD307 left to do as I have done the short courses last year and am finishing off D171 now. I want to go onto a Masters in October but I think that if I dont get a 2:1 my options are so limited what Masters were you thinking of doing I am looking into Clinical Psychology or Health Psychology anyone know anything about those two?

  5. Richard R

    Congratualtions on a well deserved 1st, I came to the same conclusion so for me SD226 to finish off and credit transfer for 75 points and a full degree. The conversion diploma appears imho not carry the same weight.

    I shall reframe the biological stuff as crucial to understanding of mind body connection after all the formation of the biological brain and neural system is the physicallity on our minds.

    Sadly I have not been as studious and need a 2:1 in SD226 to get a 2:1 overall so if anyone has some good hints or tips – they would be very welcome.

Your thoughts?