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Neil Lynn Thomas

Learning Journal, Tuesday, March 19th 2024 TMA01 Result

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Edited by Neil Lynn Thomas, Saturday, 13 Apr 2024, 17:34

Received the result and feedback (PT3e) from my tutor, Gill Duncan. I got a 79% pass, so pretty delighted with that. One criticism was that I submitted two documents for the two essays, but this should be one document, will remember that for TMA02 in a few weeks. 

A lot of information in the PT3e, a lot of it general about the pitfalls everyone gets, but does say 50% is very good for 1st assignment, so very happy with my score. The Elizabeth I essay seems a bit better than the Cleopatra Essay, but both had good and bad points. 

First the PT3e form. Focus on the question, don't move away from the question. What does the image tell us about the persons reputation was the question on both essays.

Everyone evidenced the work. Gill likes to give general feedback on the PT3e form, I will come to my personalised comments on the works in due course. Focus on the positives. Don't forget it is the start of the undergraduate process. Use you own words, not just lots of quotes. This only shows you what is relevant and not that you understand the material. 

Gill sent two useful links in the PT3e for academic writing:



I will try to do both these courses before my next assignment.

Gill's points to remember:

Physical presentation

Recommended Format: 12 point with double line

Write question in bold at top (single spaced).

Include details in header.

Include word count at bottom.

List sources in text and with reference list at bottom.

What are you being asked to do?

Analyse the question

Stick to the scope of the question

stick to the word limit (10% allowance).

Read the Guidance Notes.

There is not one correct answer. Humanities is about providing an argument.

Overview of assignment

signposting questions.

Provide evidence

Examples: Cleopatra's reputations from mid-twentieth century perspective; 

Referencing sources. 

Now onto Gills' feedback from my actual assignments.


Lovely Physical presentation.

"Vases in the foreground", factually correct but nothing about what is says about her reputation.

Comments on the poster: true but not answering question.

Excellent on referencing supporting evidence.

Reader will think "so what" in comments on coin - I didn't talk about the reputations.

Good to focus on image.

Yes on Mark Anthony.

Well argued about my comments on the older male harpist.

Part on comparing film with the 1935 & 1963 films - what is that telling us about Cleopatra's reputations. Needed to elaborate on this.

Yes - Lovely clear signposting question. Stating my point.

Good first attempt at image analysis. Next step is ensuring I only include points relevant to the set question.

Good on referencing.

Elizabeth I

Introduction paragraph - ideally list the reputations so the reader is clear on my arguments

Good description of the painting, but not answering the question. More efficient to describe a feature of the painting and then argue what it says about her reputations. I should have structured this a little differently.

reign - yes.

Faded Rainbow argument - good. 

Head of her country and in charge - yes.

Virgin Queen - Lovely clear signposting sentence. 

Virgin moon goddesses - well argued and good use of supporting evidence from painting and module material.

Protestant Church - well argued.

Loving the signposting.

 Wilson research (serpent) - good acknowledgement of source.

Lovely summary. 

Word count - good

Referencing websites - use URL. I must have typed the OU one. 

Overall quite pleased, but still some things to work on - analyse and stick to the question, don't drift. I will use this feedback to good effect when writing my next essays. Drifting towards doing Wollstonecraft & Van Gogh as a historian more relevant, as much as I love the music of Mozart. 


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Neil Lynn Thomas

Learning Journal 060224

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Edited by Neil Lynn Thomas, Wednesday, 7 Feb 2024, 18:36

Completed the on-line work on Cleopatra on Films & TV. Very interesting how each era reflects her in so many different ways, sexually, culturally and racially. 

I approached these tasks by watching the film once and then going over the questions and watching the film again, stopping it to make notes where appropriate. I am maybe being over-elaborate with my answers to the questions posed.  

I did watch the 1945 film, Caesar and Cleopatra, not discussed in these films, on Sunday evening. A publicity poster from this film is however the subject of TMA01. This film shows a your, naïve Cleopatra, played by Vivien Leigh who falls for the sophisticated and older Caesar, played by Claude Reins. This is based on a play by George Bernard Shaw. I accessed from the library this play and Shakespeare's Anthony and Cleopatra. If I have time this week I might read them both to compare.

Once I completed this work I did both sections of the Study Skills part. I found this informative and interesting, especially the section on sources. The note taking was good as well. I am quite happy with the note taking system I have. Bullet points with short and long notes, and partly colour coded. I use OneNote. 

During the middle of the evening I did the Student Hub Live event on Help Navigating Your Learning Journey. This I found both interesting and entertaining and was a good guide to how things work and what being an OU student, Tutor and Support worker is. 

Tomorrow I want to complete the reflection part of the weeks work and have a drop-in session with fellow members of my Tutorial Group and my Tutor. This should leave me plenty of time this week to do the further study section. 

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Neil Lynn Thomas

Learning Journal 050224

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Only did a bit tonight. The film part on Cleopatra.

I love films, old and new so enjoyed this exercise and how the image of Cleopatra reflected the time the film was made. 

Although I think I answered the questions posed fairly accurately, I did pick up on one thing. I read the questions and then answered both in the first part. I need to pay more attention to answering the questions as they come, and not elaborating too much and answering other questions.

Just a short one tonight as only had a hour to study. Much more tomorrow night. 

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Neil Lynn Thomas

Learning Journal 040224

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Carried on and completed the reading of Chapter One, so quite pleased I got through it that quickly. It was close to 8 hours I think in total between yesterday and today.

Note Taking - got a bit to lean here. Thought at times I took too many notes but when it came to the reflection on the life of Cleopatra about half way through, I read my notes and they made that reflection quote easy to write. Think I need to write shorter bullet points. 

I have modified my image of Cleopatra quite a bit really and see her much more as a strong and determined woman, who was probably fairly intelligent and productive in her life. Even to disparaging accounts by Roman scholars there is some evidence they thought her crafty enough to use her brain to deceive the Roman generals. Thinking there of Plutarch's account of how she smuggled herself into the Palace (Plutarch, 1972, p. 49). Also how she committed suicide rather than be paraded around Rome in chains, which was traditional way amongst Romans of the day. (Plutarch, 1965, p. 347). 

In answering some of the questions posed, I did miss the point of looking at it from an academic viewpoint, where did the sources come from, how did Plutarch and Cassius Dio come to their findings, what evidence did they draw on etc. A learning curve for me here in looking at the text analytically. 

Think I learned quite a bit on how to look deeper at sources when doing the Mediaeval Arabic texts, how much later they were written, how distorted they may have been with time, were they talking about the right Cleopatra.  

I'll move on tomorrow with the on-line section. 


Reputations, Edited by Richard Jones, Open University. 2019. 

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Neil Lynn Thomas

Learning Journal 030224

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Began work on week 2 today - Cleopatra.

Read the messages from my Tutor, Gill, on the Tutorial Group Forum and followed doing the Critical Reading Techniques part, which I found useful in helping me on how to read the module book and take notes. 

I then posted om the Forum my views and knowledge of Cleopatra before moving onto the module work. I read the contents before starting the reading and found out quite a lot about the Ptolemies reign of Egypt and how they combined their native Greek culture with traditional Egyptian culture, so they were not seen by the Egyptians as unwanted invaders. They kept the succession of Pharaohs going throughout their 300 years of Egyptian rule until the death of the final Pharaoh, Cleopatra.

The two activities I did today were interesting and I would love to see the Temple of Hathor in person. One day maybe. 

In my notes I am putting my work on the activities in a maroon sort of colour and my comments when I read the discussion in red, as I did miss a couple of points in my analysis of the engraving on The Temple of Hathor wall. 

The final part I did today to look at the Greek style bust of Cleopatra and read how this would done with Greek style dress matrix, to appeal to the Greek speaking Elite classes. 

Made a good start to day. Off to watch Wales Rugby now. Will carry on tomorrow.   

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Neil Lynn Thomas

Learning Journal 010224

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Finished week one module work earlier tonight with review of the week. I then went onto the optional further study and firstly listened to three episodes from the BBC R4 programme, A History of the World in 100 Objects. I didn't go back to the period covered with the swimming reindeer,  but moved to a section called Inside the Palace; Secrets of Court (700-950 AD). 

The episodes were very interesting on Harem Wall Painting Fragments, the Lothair Crystal and finally the Statue of Tara. All from very different mediaeval destinations and cultures. The first featured the Arabian Knights of Samara, the second, The middle kingdom (roughly Belgium and down) of Europe, the empire of Charlemagne having split into three and finally, the Buddhist region of Sri Lanka. All these exhibits are in the British Museum. 

Lothair Crystal


I then did the Behind the Reputation interactive game on Elizabeth I, Vincent van Gogh and Charles Dickens. I found this quite interesting and some views were changed and some confirmed. I will look forward to studying these three historical figures during the module. 

To finish the night, in preparation for week two, I listened to the Melvyn Bragg programme In our Time - Cleopatra. This was an interesting programme about Cleopatra and her relationships with Roman leaders Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony, and I look forward to doing this in more detail in the next week. 

That's week one done and already feel I've learnt quite a bit about what studying the Arts and Humanities is about, got a lot to learn about how to be more analytical, and how to learn from different types of sources, as well as pick up on study skills. Looking forward to the rest of the module.


Image 1, Group of Objects. Fragment, with part of figure, female face, made of plaster, painted black brown & Blue. British Museum. https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/image/917453001 (accessed, February 1st 2024).

Image 2, Front. Intaglio, crystal, disc, engraved with episodes from the story of Susana, copper gilt mount with foliate borders. British Museum. https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/image/167343001 (accessed, February 1st 2024). 

Image 3, Front. Gilded bronze figure of Tara; the Goddess Tara. British Museum.  https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/image/31550001 (Accessed, February 1st 2024). 

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Neil Lynn Thomas

Learning Journal 310124

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Edited by Neil Lynn Thomas, Thursday, 1 Feb 2024, 21:16

The work for week one of A111 is now nearly complete, just another hour tomorrow should have it wrapped up, and then I'll listen to the Melvyn Bragg broadcast on Cleopatra, In Our Time.

Today I read the introduction to the first book of the course, Reputations, and look forward to doing this next week. There are some really interesting subjects to study, each chapter connected to one of the seven humanity subjects: Cleopatra (Classical Studies), Mary (Mother of Jesus)(Religious studies), Elizabeth I (History), Mozart (Music), Mary Wollstonecraft (Philosophy), Charles Dickens (Literature) and Vince Van Gogh (Art History). This covers roughly 2000 years of history.

I know a little about all of these except Mary Wollstonecraft and have a limited knowledge of their reputations. The introduction stresses that each of these had multiple reputations. I will especially look forward to Elizabeth I, Cleopatra and Mozart, I think.

The next part of the module covered today was study skills. These looked at Time Management and Tutorials. Both these sections I found useful and helpful and I will try and do a timetable for each week and stick to it as closely as I can. Things in life do of course change. I'm also looking forward to the tutorials and getting to know my fellow students and tutors.

The final part of the module work tonight was the week 1 reflective task. This looked at the learning objectives covered earlier in the week and consisted of three parts of reflection. Firstly which learning objective, covered earlier this week, surprised us the most and secondly which I felt I was most proficient at the start of the module. The answer to these two was the same, the professional skills, i.e. organization, IT etc. Working in an office most my life I have become accustomed to these. The next part was which do we most want to improve on. For me this is the analysis, and how to learn effectively and finally the study skills such as note taking and time management.

The final part of the reflective tasks moved onto the introduction to book one and which I was most looking forward to. I went with Elizabeth I on this, as this is a period of history I am especially interested in. The ended this section with a little word on keeping a journal, which I have decided to do here.

That was all I had time for tonight, but I did also do a OU on line room course Assessing the Reliability of information for your assignment. This was interesting and helpful in deciding what on-line content to use and what not to use. They used two acronyms to decide this, WWW (who, why, when) & PROMPT (Presentation, relevance, objectivity, method, provenance and timeliness). They showed how of three on-line documents, two were unreliable and one was reliable.

That's it for tonight folks.

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Neil Lynn Thomas

Learning Journal 300124

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Edited by Neil Lynn Thomas, Thursday, 1 Feb 2024, 21:15

I have decided to write a blog and keep my notes seperate from the reflective content.

Received the set books today. Looking forward to covering these during the course. My Tutor, Gill also sent some useful links to the forum.

I've watched the recording of the opening tutorial that I couldn't attend luch time today as I was in work. Found it very interesting and informative and gave me a good idea of what to expect in the on-line tutorials when they start.

This first week has gone well so far and got finished last night on the longest part of the first week (I think). Now need to crack on with the rest of the first week. Also want to listen to the Melvyn Bragg recording on Cleopatra.

Got through quite a lot tonight, worked nearly an hour later than I planned. I enjoyed the study of Swimming Reindeer and the very interesting discussion. I was amazed what I discovered from this. Had no idea such art was created that long ago (c11,000 BCE).

Figure: Swimming Reindeer, found at Montastruc, Tarn et Garonne, France, c.11,000 bce (Magdalenian culture), mammoth ivory, 21 × 3 cm. British Museum, London, Palart.550. © Trustees of the British Museum.

I spent a long time on the time line of the module, very interesting subject to look forward to in the future, whilst studying this module.


Figure: Swimming Reindeer, found at Montastruc, Tarn et Garonne, France, c.11,000 bce (Magdalenian culture), mammoth ivory, 21 × 3 cm. British Museum, London, Palart.550. © Trustees of the British Museu

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