Revision Tip 1

I know for many it’s coming up to the start of the academic year but for those who are, like myself, part of the Open University or another institution who may have exams at differing times I thought it might be helpful to share some ways in which I revise. More so than essay writing I am always keen to hear how other people retain vital exam information as it’s something I find quite unpredictable and I don’t seem to be as consistent as with essay writing. For example, in a previous Open University module, the exam was made up of three essay questions each with the same weighting and I managed to obtain a mark in the 90’s for one part but then much lower marks for the other two.

So with my (hopefully) final undergraduate exam now next month I thought I would share, over a few posts, a couple of ways I revise. I would love to hear in the comments how you best revise.

Flash Cards

Something I have done the whole way throughout my degree is create flash cards. I find these brilliant for remembering definitions, dates etc. and smaller chunks of information. For myself they don’t work if I overload them and try and use them to condense a whole topic or chapter but they are great as small prompts. However I know of people who use them to summarise whole books and it works for them! I *try* and create these as I go throughout the module texts and then use them on a regular basis to recap what I have already gone through. This does mean that by the time revision has come around many may seem quite simple as my knowledge around the topic has been built up but the great thing about hand writing flash cards is you can always add to them. Unfortunately for DD307 I have failed to do this and only really going back through them now!

You can create flash cards on the computer, scrap paper or whatever takes your fancy but I like the thick, large index cards and some good old sharpies!


Remember to let me know your revision tips!


No matter how much you love your subject or degree I think pretty much everyone goes through periods, be it days, weeks or more, where they really struggle with a lack of motivation. I have found it hard to keep motivated throughout the final module of my degree, DD307 Social psychology: critical perspectives on self and others. This is mainly due to me not feeling as though I can fully engage with the module material for a number of reasons. I have also found that I enjoy many of the topics covered but unfortunately these don’t seem to be reflected in the TMA’s. I also struggled at the beginning of this module as I was also overlapping with DSE212: Exploring Psychology, and alongside this I was also in the middle of moving house which was taking up a lot of my time. I found that I ended up a little behind with the reading and struggled to catch back up which lead to a viscous circle of not wanting to pick the books up. Everyone is different and everyone studies differently which means what motivates me may not motivate you however I thought I would share with you what I try when I feel I am struggling.

Firstly I try and understand why I am feeling like the way I am – if it’s personal circumstances you may find that until these are under control you struggle with lack of motivation often throughout your studies so it is worth investing time in managing other areas of your life.

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Something I didn’t do well at the beginning of my degree was utilising down time effectively. This is so important and I most definitely did not get enough down time, through my own choice, for the first few years of my degree. I have now learned that taking time to relax in the evening or having an extra hour in the morning before beginning work actually improves the quality of my work.

Remember why you started! This, in theory, is simple. I remind myself why I started my degree and then picture where I want to be.

Take a break, short breaks are always beneficial. I am at my most productive in the morning straight after I have been out for a walk with the dog.

Treat yourself to something you enjoy. I love stationary and although it is an unnecessary purchase, buying a new notebook, fancy pen or something else paper and pen related often gives me a burst of inspiration and makes me want to write. I also find that the odd take out Costa or Starbucks does a lot for motivation!

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Keeping organised! For me personally, if I have all my book shelves organised, my notes filed, desk tidy etc. I produce work at a higher quality. I struggle when things are disorganised but I am also aware that this is something very personal.

For me though, the biggest way of getting my mojo back is through my voluntary work. I love criminology, psychology, substance misuse, the criminal justice system (the list goes on) and learning about it is fascinating but nothing beats getting involved and stuck in straight at the deep end. Whenever I come back from a days volunteering I always feel so motivated and full of new ideas. This is hands down the one thing which is guaranteed to pick me up when I feel as though I am struggling with study.

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I would love to know what motivates you!

Books for the future

Now that the end of my degree is in sight I have shelves full of books, some which I bought at the very beginning of my degree, which I can’t wait to get stuck into and read! I thought I would share a couple of the books I am really keen to read or to have a proper look at. Of course I won’t read all of these cover to cover but I can’t wait to start doing some of my own research and focus on areas I am really interested in.

Drugs and Crime

Two Hours That Shook The World
The Oxford Handbook of Criminology

Criminal Man
Psychology in Prisons
The Lucifer Effect

Addiction is a Choice
I haven’t bought any new books for a while as I really want to start getting through the piles of unread books I have but I am still keen for recommendations! I have a list in my Filofax with books I would like to buy so I am always looking for new titles to add to the list!

I spent two years volunteering for the Witness Service which, if you are unaware, support witnesses on their day in court and when 1pm on the 8th October rolls around and I have finished my degree I am eager to understand and develop my understanding of the criminal justice system so if anyone has any books, journals etc. they can recommend I would be ever so grateful.

Thinking about volunteering?

Although I am officially on maternity leave I am still continuing with my role as a volunteer mentor for male offenders, who have served relatively short sentences, upon release from HMP. Luckily as a volunteer I can be rather flexible with when I finish and start back up again after baby’s arrival. Of course working with, often very vulnerable, individuals I wouldn’t just go missing in action for a while when they needed support the most so I am working alongside another mentor who will take over whilst I am away.

I am actually busy all day today with a prison visit and then the organisation of a group get together but whilst having breakfast I have been reflecting on how much I will miss being a volunteer while I have a break for my baby. Of course this is by no means the end of me volunteering and as soon as I feel happy to do so I will be back.

["Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart."] – Elizabeth Andrew

Throughout the course of my degree I have been involved in a range of voluntary positions, all of which I have loved! I know that they have all been of huge benefit to me and I have loved being able to get stuck in to something I am really passionate about. Of course I love studying, reading books and learning but nothing beats getting to do something I hope to spend the rest of my life involved in. I know at some point it will come but up until now, over the four years of volunteering I have done I haven’t had a single day where I had arranged to go in and didn’t want to, or couldn’t wait for the day to be over. If anything I would love to do even more but I am aware that it’s important to not let my degree slip as I am hoping the combination of my degree along with the practical experience I have gained will stand me in good stead to progress in my career.

["Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote everyday about the kind of community you want to live in."] – Anonymous

I just wanted to share my thoughts on what it is like to be a volunteer and I honestly couldn’t recommended it enough – for so many reasons! I would love to hear from other people who are volunteers or who are thinking about gaining some voluntary experience!

["A moment of self - compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life"] – Christopher Germer

DD307 – Social Psychology, Week 23

It’s actually very nice only working on only one module! As I overlapped DSE212 and DD307 I often felt overwhelemed with the workload and wasn’t able to do much, if any, of the additional reading etc. Now that I have my DSE212 results I can concentrate fully on DD307.

This weeks is timetabled to be assignment week to work on TMA 05. I am a little behind on the reading so still catching up but we do have until the 7th of August to submit this essay. I am working towards a personal deadline of a week on Friday to have this essay complete.

This is the first TMA of the module I have actually been excited for when I looked at the essay question:

Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of a discursive approach to studying obedience. Make reference to agency and power in your answer.
Word limit: 2000

I am really enjoying the reading for this essay, particularly the comparison between Stanley Milgram’s infamous work and Stephen Gibson’s more recent work analysing tape recordings taken at the time of Milgram’s experiments.

What’s everyone else working towards at the moment?

Results are in…

So today I received my results for DSE212 – a week early. I do find the grading of the OU slightly difficult to get my head around in that not every module counts and others count in different ways etc. Level 1 courses do not go towards the final classification of your degree providing you pass, so in theory weather you get a 41 or a 95 it is irrelevant. However level 2’s go some way towards the final classification and level 3’s count considerably (from what I gather!) So far I have received grade 2 passes for every module I have completed, which is the equivalent to a 2:1 however when I logged on to my student homepage to retrieve my results I found I had been awarded a grade 4 pass, equivalent to a third. With regards to my essays I achieved;
70, 75, 72, 72, 83 and 93
However my exam was graded at 51 which, due to the weighting of the exam, has taken me down to a third. I feel disappointed at myself however I worked as hard as I could when it came to revision considering I am also studying towards DD307 and working. If I do well at DD307 I could still be on track however I now feel a considerable amount of pressure. DD307 is the first module I have seriously struggled with, and according to forums and Facebook groups I’m not the only one! I haven’t scored too highly on my TMA’s in DD307 so far and I’m trying not to panic now! I think it may be sensible to continue working on the essays in the same way but start thinking about beginning revision now.
I do feel as though Open University exam’s shouldn’t be so highly weighted towards your final grade as many people use the OU as they have many other commitments, I haven’t found the same support is offered for exams with the OU as it is to students studying at a brick uni.

Anyway this has turned into a pretty long post about nothing! I just wanted to share with you my results and hope that others who may be studying DSE212 in the future will be able to learn from my mistakes and focus on revision earlier that is timetabled!

For anyone who had received results or will be soon well done and good luck :-)

DD307 project

DD307 Book 1
So I have now completed and submitted my ‘project’ for DD307, which is pretty heftily weighted and goes alongside my overall TMA score and my final exam score in order to determine my final module grade. I must admit I thought that this would be favourite part of the module as I thoroughly enjoyed the choice and flexibility which was involved with the DD301, Crime and Justice, project. However this wasn’t the case! I found the time between TMA 03, the project proposal, and the time allowed for completing the project, TMA 04, just wasn’t suffice! This project was different to DD301 in the sense that we had to complete and analyse our own interviews which we had to record and transcribe (such a lengthy process!) and complete a report in a pretty standard format:

Background and Research Question

When we submitted our proposal we had to choose an approach to adopt. The choices were;
Discursive Psychology
Social Psychoanalytic
I decided to adopt a discursive psychological approach as this fitted with my research question. I enjoyed finding out more about this approach and it was an interest process however I don’t feel I have benefited a great deal of psychological knowledge from doing this project. For DD301 I focussed on mass incarceration and I still now feel as though I gained a deeper insight into my chosen topic. This project had a different focus and it was placed on the the approach taken and the process in which you undertook in order to achieve your research along with how you analyse your data in accordance with your perspective. I understand that, as a social psychology module, this is the focus but I would have loved to be able to investigate a topic in greater depth and I didn’t feel as though there was the time or scope to do this with this project.

I would advise anyone who will be doing DD307 in the future to take their time with the project and get started as early as possible as it does contribute towards 30% of your final grade so is heavily weighted in comparison to standard TMA’s. I didn’t find that following the time set out was enough and would advise people to get a head start. Also take time to choose an area to research as even now I am not sure that I choose a topic to best understand my approach. Once I have received my marks and feedback I will do another post which should hopefully provide some more advice for future DD307’ers!

The challenges

I have previously mentioned that I volunteer as a mentor for male offenders upon release from prison who have served relatively short sentences. I may, if it’s something people are interested in reading, do a more in depth post about my role as a mentor but I just wanted to share my, all to familiar, experience from yesterday.

When an individual expresses interested regarding having a mentor inside prison they go through an interview process and are eventually matched with 1 or 2 mentors. On the day of their release the project co-ordinator and the mentors collect the individual from prison and we usually spend the day together attending any appointments and getting to know each other a little.

I think something which many people feel, which I fully empathise with as to a degree this was my view a number of years ago, is that many people inside prison express the view that the system is against them and they are being ‘set up to fail.’ I want to emphasise that this is my experience only, I am fully aware of the success stories, and have been involved in a number of these, and the dedication and teamwork displayed by many individuals within agencies who work alongside these guys but time and time again when we go to collect someone who is keen to work with us we are left feeling baffled by the end of the day.

Before we go to collect a guy we make sure we have spoken with, if appropriate, their probation officer, staff at an approved premises if this is the situation, and anyone from other agencies who are involved in the rehabilitation of the individual.

So, yesterday, after a slight misunderstanding with release times (something I could write a whole separate post about) we finally met up with with *A* and headed back over to the area he was resettling. A and ourselves were both informed that he must arrive at the approved premises by 2pm for his induction and other than that we only had to go to the job centre to open a new claim. We were told his probation officer was on holiday and was happy for him to wait until next week for their first meeting. We had to pass the approved premises to get to the job centre so thought we would drop by to put a face to a name and to see if it was possible to leave A’s things in the office. We were ever so lucky as when we turned up staff from the approved premises along with a stand in probation officer were waiting, stating that they did have a meeting with him at 12 noon. Luckily this probation officer was understanding however in the past we have worked alongside guys who have been breached and recalled back to prison for situations very similar.

Nobody could quite work out why we were all given different times and information but I do have a degree of sympathy with those who feel as though this is being done purposely. Although I doubt that it is, I just feel that often the disjointedness of agencies who work alongside offenders places the individual in an even more difficult position than the one in which they are already in.


It’s over and I survived!!
On Tuesday 3rd June at 1pm I officially finished DSE212, the penultimate module for my degree. I want to say good luck to everyone with upcoming exams and well done to everyone who may have recently had an exam!
I found DSE212 to be a pretty challenging exam, and there was A LOT to revise. I would recommend starting early for anyone who will be completing it as part of their degree (no matter what your tutor says!) The exam was composed of three parts;
-A list of 8 key terms and you had to write a paragraph on 5 of the 8 (there was 45 to revise so pretty tricky) I was confident with 4 of them but my fifth choice ended up being a sentence long!
-Next was 2 essays, with 45 minutes for each. I chose the cognitive approach to learning option and comparing the psychoanalytic and humanistic perspectives approach to change.
-The final part was another 45 minute essay with a choice of a question from each chapter in the final module text book. I struggled with this section and went for the lifespan development option but I have no idea how I managed with it and feel as though this may be the section which has let me down.

It’s a pretty short wait this year until results are out on 14th of July so I have everything crossed. I am extremely happy and proud of my TMA results for this module but unfortunately due to the weighting of the exam it could bring me down grade boundaries pretty easily if I don’t do so well in the exam! It is all over now and I am going to enjoy finishing off my final module, DD307 in a less stressful manor! Due to overlapping the two modules, which are both pretty demanding, my marks for DD307 haven’t been as good as I would like so I am hoping I have time to pull it round!

DSE212 Revision Websites

I am hoping to still get some posts up but until 3rd June I will be rather busy revising! I just wanted to share a couple of websites which are great for DSE212 revision – They also cover ED209, DD303 and DD307 so worth ‘bookmarking’ if you plan to do any of these modules in the future.

DSE212 Revision Toolkit

Just One More Ten Pence Peice

I do want to note that both of these websites have been created by past students and some of the information may be out of date but so far I have found them invaluable. I have however checked notes or information made against the current module text books.

It goes without saying that the module website is also a great tool, EPoCH and the DVD clips are great refreshers when you want something quick to fit into a spare 30 mins!!

Good luck to anyone revising at the moment, let me know what you are revising for how you are getting on :-)