Category Archives: Study Notes

Need help from students with Dyslexia

DyslexiaDyslexia, I need some help.

As some of you may know, I was recently tested and diagnosed with Dyslexia, I knew I had it when I was a kid but it was probably over 20 years ago I was last tested. I was given a good lot of good advice and equipment, mainly a smart pen, dictation and mind map software. The post about it all can be founf at “Studying at the Open University with Dyslexia“.

Anyway its now been a few months and I have been trained in the software and found out what is useful and not useful for me, so I thought happy days. However, now that im doing level 2 module’s I need to take notes for revision and it’s really getting me down !!! All my level 1’s I did without notes and was able to do them fine and with good results, but knowing that I have exams at the end of S283 I really need notes to revise.

I have currently been making them through chapters 1 to 5 (S283) and, I have found it takes about twice the time to make my notes and dictate them (I will explain that later) than it does to do my 2 read through’s of the chapter. So for what used to take 3-4 hours for a chapter now takes up to 10 or 12 hours (Both times exclude answering the questions). This has really sucked the fun out of it for me :(

This is my process:

  • Read the full chapter
  • Re-read the chapter and highlight important info
  • Do notes on each important info
  • Dictate them (This is so I can play back over MP3 while out walking)

Here is an example pic from one of my note pages for S283

Dyslexia NotesI don’t know if it’s just me ore does everyone feels like this? I feel I learn more from doing my research for TMA questions than doing notes.

So I guess my big question is “How do other students with Dyslexia cope with notes ??” I would love your feedback and suggestions.


Filed under BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences B64, Dyslexia, S283: Planetary science, Study Notes

S196 Planets, Chapter 10 Study Notes

Ok I know im doing these study notes out of order but I have just finished reading chapter 10 so thought I would go ahead and do up my notes now.

So Chapter 10 was on Saturn and its satellite’s, but lets start with Saturn itself.

Rotation and Orbit

Saturn’s axil inclination is nearly 27′ and can really change our views of its rings, this helps in determining Saturn’s brightness as it is lower when the rings are face on (where we can hardly see them). Even though Saturn does dim at this stage it still outshines most stars.

It rotates just as fast as Jupiter and because of its lower density it it even more flattened, Saturn’s polar radius is 10% smaller than its equatorial radius.

Its atmosphere rotation is faster than its internal rotation to a point where at its equator this would exceed 500 mps winds.

Saturn has over 60 satellites and counting.  Like Jupiter the inner satellites have near circular prograde orbits and a close equatorial plane.  The outer satellites are more eccentric and can be more inclined, they are also more commonly retrograde orbits.

The Interior

With an internal core pressure of about 10 million times the Earth’s and a temperature of at least 9000’c, makes Saturn’s core smaller than Jupiter but still considerable in size.  Saturn is thought to have a zone of metallic hydrogen surrounding its icy core. It also radiates more energy than it receives from the sun. This is thought to come from differentiation occurring by segregation of helium towards the bottom of the molecular hydrogen layer

Saturn also has a magnetic field that is 600 times more powerful than Earth’s, it produces polar aurorae like Jupiter, except it is exactly aligned with Saturn’s axil of rotation.  It is thought to be produced by convection in the metallic hydrogen layer.

The Atmosphere

Saturn’s atmosphere is also like Jupiter’s, it has wind blowing from west to east, however these are at a much greater rate than on Jupiter.  It also has Hadley Circulation.  The main differences are the dark belts (sinking) and pale belts (rising) are not so apparent on Saturn. The major storm systems are also shorter lived.

The atmosphere is thought to be made up of ammonium ice clouds over layers of ammonium hydrosulfide and then water ice clouds. However due to its lower gravity these layers have nearly twice the gap than layers on Jupiter.

Saturn’s Rings

Saturn’s rings contain enough material to make a body roughly 100km across, this is far more material than Jupiter’s rings.  Its also made up of larger and more reflective material.  The visible extent of the rings extend from about 75,000 km from the planets centre to about 137,000 km but is less than 100 m thick. The rings are made  from chunks of ice ranging from 1 cm to 5 m in size, this is much larger than Jupiter’s material.  It is known to be made of water ice but has been darkened and reddened by radiation or contaminated by dust.  There is a clearly visible gap about 120,000 km out called  Cassini’s division, this separates the outer (A) ring with the inner (B) ring. There is also a (C) ring visible within the (B) ring, this is more transparent and allows Saturn to shine through but can be seen against the blackness of space.

There is also a (D) ring inside the (C) ring and extends from the inner part of (C) to half the distance to the cloud tops. The (E) ring is the outer most ring on the outside of the (A) ring extending from about 180,000 km to 500,00 km and expands to a thickness of 30,000 km. Both these rings are very tenuous or narrow to see clearly. There is also a (F) ring and (E) ring between the (A) and (E) rings

As for Cassini’s division this turns out to be only the biggest of the gaps amongst many in the A B and C rings. Most occuring at radii where they would be in orbital resonance with one of Saturn’s satellites.  For example Mimas is in 2:1 resonance with the inner edge of Cassini’s division.


Saturn has a large and growing number of satellite’s, over 60 at the moment. Many of the innermost are small and iregular in shape, Atlas orbits just outside the (A) ring, Prometheus and Pandora are bothe in the (F) ring and there gravity acts to confine and the rings. Janus and Epimetheus share roughly the same orbit with a resonance of 7:6 with the outter edge of the (A) ring

Phoebe is Saturn’s outermost substantial satellite. It is the innermost satellite that travels in a retrograde orbit. It Has a rotation perios of 9 hours and is most likely a captured asteroid.

The outer satellites around Saturn are in irregular orbits and are thought to be remains of larger satellite that broke up during capture, like the ones around Jupiter.

Two of Saturn’s inner most regular satellites are Mimas and Enceladus. They both look similar but have had very different histories.  Mimas has a covering of clean ice with many craters covering its surface, however there are few that are over 30km across and the largest is 130km named Herschel.  If the object that caused this was any bigger it would have most likely broken Mimas into fragments.  Counting the number of craters wont work for calculationg the age of the surface as there is no way of determining the general rate that craters would have been formed around Saturn.  From Voyager images it can be seen that there has been ne sign of internal activity .

Enceladus is much different, its surface shows lots of  activity.  The density of craters varies from region to region and the areas of most cratering are still less than Mimas.  Some areas are smooth with very little cratering and even have have curved parallel ridges. In some places parts of a crater have survived while the other half has been destroyed by geological activity.   Its thought that this activity is driven by tidal heating, Enceladus is in a 2:1 resonance with  Dione.  Since its orbit is nearly circular, tidial heating would be minimal now but it its orbit was more eccentric in the past that could explain the activity. We only know roughly what has happened on Enceladus but between the fractures and faults, resurfacing must have been achieved my some sort of activity like cryovolcanic lava.  Like Jupiter’s galilean satellites it would be contaminated with salts and possibly ammonia.  A water-ammonia mix would melt around -97’c meaning it would require even less heating than Europa to meant into a liquid.  Amonia however has not been detected on any icy satellite, this is thought to be because the harsh radiation and the vacuum of space breaks it down in a short time span.

Enceladus also has a very high albedo, nearly 1. Even thought this may be expected due to its new surfaces the brightness is all over.  It may be that the surface is covered in a fresh powder from an explosive cryovolcanic eruption. Or it may be because it orbits close to the densest part of (E) ring and this is likely to be made up of finer ice particles than the main rings.

Tethys and Dione make another size pair, like Mimas and Encladus. Neither shows signs of a young surface but on both the crater density is not evenly spread.  Tethys density is less dense and has less internal rock, this would account for it looking to have less activity in the past.  Of the 5 largest craters, all of them show signs that the icy lave flows have reached the height of the rims but have not flowed over them yet.  The impacts in the areas of the smother icy lava are smaller than the uncovered areas, this suggests that these craters where caused by impacts from debris from within the Saturn system.

Dione’s crater density varies more than Tethys does. There has been at least 2 periods of cryovolvanic flooding, each in different areas and times. This could have been been caused by tidal heating from interaction with Enceladus.

Rhea was imaged by Voyager but coverage was very poor, but what could be said is that there is some variations in crater density and that there are a few fracture line.

Titan is the only planetary satellite that has a substantial atmosphere and this makes it a very interesting place.  Its density shows that it could have a largely icy body but do not know to what extent it has become internally differentiated to produce rocky or iron rich core. Most of its atmosphere of nitrogen and ethane has came from gases that it has picked up from the solar nebula and the dust cloud from the saturn area. Titan was able to do this as it was in a colder enviroment as it was further away from the Sun and the planet itself.

The atmosphere of Titan has protected it from radiation so water ice has not been broken down or turned into a vapour. Ethane has been detected and this could play a special role on Titan, this is because it can condense and fall like rain and form a liquid, much like water on earth.  It was also thought that the surface was covered in a global ocean, this is now knows not to be true, but it could still have seas that the ethane could flow into then evaporate. This means Titans landscapes are very Earth like with erosion of valleys and cliffs etc.

That was the Saturn chapter, long and difficult to type up due to all the different moons, hopefully the next few chapters are not as long.

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S196 Planets, Chapter 3 Study Notes

Chapter 3 looks at ‘Mercury’

Rotation and Orbit

Mercury is the innermost planet and has a rotation period of 58.6 days and a Orbital period of 88 days.  Due to this it rotates 3 times in the corse of 2 orbits.  It is best seen 22 days before or after it passes the Earth. This is when it is furthest from the sun and is called maximum elongation. The two bodies are never more than 28′ apart so this makes it very difficult to see in the sky.

The relationship between orbit and rotation is thought to be related to the huge tidal force generated from the Sun. Mercury is thought to have been spinning a lot faster but has slowed to its present rotation period about 500 million years ago. Why the rotation has not slowed to 88 days, so that one side is constantly facing the Sun, is unknow.  Most moons behave like this and is called tidal lock so why has it not happened with the Sun and Mercury?

Temperature extremes and polar ice caps

Mercury’s surface has extreme temperature changes due to the fact that it has such long days and an eccentric orbit than most other planets. When at its perihelion (Closest to the sun) surface temperature can reach 470’c, at aphelion the temperature in the same place os 250’c. Its night side can drop to as low as -170’c.

Due to its low axis of rotation (0.1′) mercuary has very little tilt and as a result craters in its polar region may never get any sunlight and be permanently cold.


As the gravity on Mercury is so small it is unable to hold onto an atmosphere.

Even though Mercury has no atmosphere its polar ice caps are thought to have came from comet impacts that. There molecules would have cooled when entering the polar regions and formed ice. This has not been proven but is a credible explanation.

The Interior

Mariner 10’s trajectory in 74-75 gave information into the density of mercury as they it was previously unknown due to there being no satellites orbiting Mercury. This information was very surprising as it showed that even though Mercury is much smaller than the Earth it has nearly the same density as it. This indicates that it core could be made up of an iron rich core making up around 70% of its mass and 40% of its volume. With a core of almost 70% Mercury has the largest core of all the terrestrial planets and also has a very shallow outer core.

It is unknown if its core is solid or liquid, however with its size being considerable smaller than Earths it loses heat quicker so would be assumed that its core it solid. However Mercury has a magnetic field, around one thousandth of the earths. This would sometimes result from a liquid core but as mercury is rotation so slowly it would not be able to produce a magnetic field from it. So it may have once had a liquid core and left what is called Remanent Magnetism in its core from when it once had a magnetic field.

The Surface

So far only 45% of the surface has been imaged.

Mercury looks very ‘Moon like’ but in comparison has fewer impact craters than the moon indicating it has a younger surface than our moon.  The largest impact feature is the Caloris Basin and is 1340km across, and described as a multiringed impact basin as it consists of a series of concentric features.  It is thought to have been caused by an asteroid and judging by the cratering now on top it thought to have happened around 3.85 billion years ago.  The impact would have been a global event and caused the area on the opposite side of the planet was severely disrupted. The floor of the basin that has not been cratered my recent impacts show fracturing and ridging of the surface. This looks like lava flow, indicating that molten rock flooded the basin after its formation.  Other areas of Mercury show the same feature indication lave flows in these areas. However unlike the Moon where these areas would be darker, for an unknown reason the areas on Mercury have much the same brightness than the surrounding area.

Some of these volcanic regions have sharp edges that is consistent with lava flows on earth, but some have less diffuse edges indicating that they may be from explosive volcanic eruptions.

Global Contraction

The Lobate Scarps are the youngest event identified on Mercury, they range from 20 to 200km long and up to 2km in height and are a sign of compression.  This caused a reduction or between 1 to 2km in radius, either by contraction as its mantle cooled or by solidification of a liquid part of its core.  This is thought to have happened several billion years ago and is thought to have been one of the last geological events to happen on Mercury.


There was some maths to do with Scientific notation and orders of magnitude.

And that was it for Mercury, if you see any mistakes please let me know.

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S196 Planets, Chapter 2 Study Notes

Chapter 2 Looks at ‘The Solar System’ and deals with

Local Geography

The Earth and other planets orbit the Sun, the sun is one of hundreds of billions of stars that make up our galaxy. This course look at the planets orbiting our star, known as ‘The Solar System’.  The Sun has a mass 1000 times the size of Jupiter and Jupiter has a mass bigger the the combined mass of all the other planets put together.

Earth orbits at an average distance of 150 million km from the Sun and this is known as 1 AU (Astronomical Unit).

Earth has a mass of (6 x 10 par 24 kg) So 6 million billion billion kg

Keplers Law

The further a planet is from the Sun the longer it takes to orbit.  This is referred to in ‘Kepler’s law of planetary motion’. This relationship is expressed in Keplers third law that states that the square of a planets period of rotation around the sun is proportional to the cube of its average distance from the sun.

The orbits of the planets are very near circles and it was Kepler who realized they where indeed ellipses and this is what’s stated in his first law of planetary motion. The ratio of this law is called the eccentricity of the ellipse.  When the 2 foci coincide this has a eccentricity of 0 (a circle). Earth has a eccentricity of 0.017, Jupiter 0.048 this means they are nearly indistinguishable from circles.

The point of the orbit closest the the sun is called the ‘Perihelion’ and the furthest point is ‘Aphelion’.

Keplers second law states that a line drawn from the planet to the sun will always sweep the same amount of area over a given time

Planetary orbits and planetary spin

the orbits of all the planets lie in a similar plane and orbit the the same direction around the sun, if looking from overhead the sun, they would be rotation in an anti-clockwise direction. this is referred to as prograde, the opposite direction is called retrograde.

The sun and most planets rotate in a prograde direction  but no planet has an axis of rotation that is exactly perpendicular to its orbit.  The amount that this differs is called its axial inclination

History of the solar system

4.6 billion years ago the sun started to form from a gravity driven contraction of a gas cloud containing mostly hydrogen. soon it began to shine and then its centre became hot enough for hydrogen nuclei to fuse to form helium which is what powers the sun today. After about 10,000 years particles in the solar system started to combine and started to measure a centimeter across.  after 100,000 there was lots of bodies 10km across known as ‘Planetesimals‘. After another few tens of thousand years they where forming planetesimals a few thousand km across and starting to gather up smaller bodies.

As the area started to clear there may have been a few hundred of these bodies, now called ‘Planetary Embryos‘ it would have taken another 50 million years for these embryos to reach earth size, and collisions would have be devastating. Sometimes both bodies fragmenting but more likely the smaller of the bodies would merge with the larger . The collisions could have generated enough heat to melt the larger body.  Denser material would have went inwards and lighter material to move outwards creating an iron rich core and a rocky mantle. This is called Differentiation. This created a crust and a mantle, a further distinction in the crust is the strong and rigid outer shell  and then the the topmost mantle knows as the lithosphere and is about 100km think.

Impact crators

All the terrestrial planets where impacted with junk left over from the creation of the solar system.  These left impact craters, craters are still formed to this day but reduced to current intensity around 3.9 billion years ago.  This has provided us with a way to date surfaces and is knows as Cratering Timescale.

The Growth of the Giants

The above example of planets forming only applies to the innermost planets, out to Mars. Further out than this the process took several million years longer. These planets grew much larger than the inner planets, the reason for this was that past 5AU from the sun it was posable for frozen water to condense directly from the solar nebula. These outer planets started as rocky bodies like Earth but once it grew to about 10 Earth masses it became a good gravitational scavenger of hydrogen and other gases and grew even more. Jupiter and Saturn grew the quickest with Uranus and Neptune’s growth being cut short with an event called the ‘T Tauri Wind‘.  This lasted about 10 million years and blew away the remnants of the solar nebula but also any atmospheres that the planets had built up. Since then matter has always escaped the sun and is called the ‘Solar Wind’ and travels at about 250 km per second however its density is extremely low and the sun has only lost about a ten thousandth of its mass this way. They have also collected a disc of gas and dust around them, resembling mini solar nebula.

Left-overs on the Fringes

collisions beyond neptune where so rare that planetesimals couldn’t form.  Several hundred bodies have been found in what is now known as the Kuiper Belt, this ranges from 30 to 50 AU and estimates suggest there could be as many as 70,000 bodies more than 100 km across in the Kuiper Belt. Pluto is know know to be one of the largest Kuiper Belt objects.


The chemistry of our solar system can be found out out by finding what our sun is made of, this can be done my looking at the spectrum of light from the sun. By doing this we know that there was about 73% hydrogen, 25% helium and 2% of others.

Some of the water that we have on earth came from comet impacts, but most would have came from our own solar nebula where it was traped in our planetry body and escaped to the surface by  way of volcanic eruptions.

We can find out the makeup of other planetary bodies by using Spectroscopy. Different substances absorb sunlight at different wavelength and through favorable circumstances the make up and proportion can be calculated. Even basic measurements of reflected light can help, Albedo, the amount of reflected light from a planetry body can tell if its clear water ice with a high albedo or carbon based with a low albedo.

Planetary Heat

When the planetary bodies where forming the collisions would have created enormous amounts of energy and heat. This heat has been escaping ever since and larger bodies lose heat slower than smaller bodies due to the smaller surface area, when compared to volume.

We need more heat to be generated as the heat generated during the collisions would have been lost long age. This extra heat comes from two different sources, Radiogenic Heating, this is the decay of radioactive isotopes and tend to be concentrated in rocky areas.  This would mean that rocky planets would generate more heat this way than other non rocky planets. The second form of heating is Tidal Heating, this is caused by the distortion of a planetary body when orbiting a larger body.

Other Planetary Facts

Equatorial Radius – The Distance from the centre of a planetary body to its equator, or for a gas planet, like Jupiter, its cloud tops.

Mass – Usualy expressed relative to earth.

Density – expressed in g/cm3, water and ice are 1 on this scale.

Surface Gravity – Usualy expressed relative to earth.

Rotation Period – The time taken for the body to rotate relative to the stars and is usually quoted in hours or days, earths rotation is 24 hours.


Some basic mathematical skills needed to be learnt like Scientific Notation and Significant figures and Squares and Cubes.

What Qualifies as a Planet?

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) gave the following definitions of what qualafies as a planet.

A ‘planet’ is a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and (c) has cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit.

A ‘dwarf planet’ is a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, (c) has not cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit, and (d) is not a satellite. (This is why Pluto is no longer classed as a planet)

All other objects except satellites orbiting the Sun shall be referred to collectively as ‘Small Solar-System Bodies’.

This covered most of what is on chapter 2, it was a long chapter with lots of different facts and maths to learn. By the looks of it the next few chapters are a little shorter.

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S196 Planets, Chapter 1 Study Notes

Chapter 1 was an nitro to the ‘Planets an introduction’ course so this post should be a short one.

History of the planets

During ancient times there was thought to be 5 planets, not including the Earth. These where the ones that where bright enough to be seen by the naked eye and where, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.  The fact that planets changed position over time was what made them special during these times. The name Planet comes from the ancient Greek word for ‘Wonder’ and they where  named after Greek gods.

Most theories at this time had everything orbiting the Earth and it wasn’t until the seventeenth century that it was widely accepted that the Moon was the only body to orbit the Earth, this was several decades after Nikolas Copernicus published his Sun-centered theory in 1543.

In 1610 Galileo Galilei used the first telescope to discover mountains on the Moon, documented the phases of Venus and also discovered four satellites around Jupiter. By 1700 five satalites had been discovered orbiting Saturn, in 1781 William Herschel discovered Uranus then by 1787 had found two of its Satellites.  Neptune was discovered in 1846 and Pluto in 1930.


Here I was asked to look at the night sky and try to spot any of the planets. Some clues where, Venus is very bright and has no obvious colour and will be close to the setting or rising sun. Mars, Jupiter and Saturn can be anywhere in the southern sky (In the Northern Hemisphere). Mars has a strong red cast, Jupiter and Saturn both have a yellow tinge. Jupiter is the brightest of the two.

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Study Notes for S196 Planets An Introduction

Over the next few days I am going to type out my study notes for the first lot of chapters, just to try and help me do some revision.

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Just finished Chapter 3 in DB123

Ok, so I have just finished chapter 3 and its DVD tutorial, so that means i’m about a week and a half ahead of the study planner.

So what did I learn in Chapter 3 – Expenditure & Budgeting

Economic Influences on expenditure

Housing accounted for the largest proportion of expenditure 20.9% in 2004, then Motoring at 14.6% and then food with 11.1%. Some of the ways expenditure has changed can be seen by looking at 2004 and 1987 figures, Housing up from 15.7% to 20.9%, leisure services up from 3% to 7% but food has decreased from 16.7% to 11.1%.  This may look like we are eating less but actually we are eating the same, but the cost of the food has not increased at the same rate as other items so this in turn frees up more money to spend on other items. The same can be said for basic clothing etc, where it is imported from countries where it is produced cheaper.

Unlike food people may start buying more of an item if it becomes cheaper, for example mobile phones, they where owned by only 20% of households in 96, in 03 they where owned by 70%

The UK economy has also grown, this has meant that the average household can now afford to spend more money on luxury items as they do not need to buy more food etc.

All the figures are quoted here are average figures, the actual spread can be uneven, for example in 2005 the disposable income for the bottom 10% of was £112.80 per person compared to the top 10%  with £903.10.

One surprising fact is that as income increases spending increases in all levels of income, although the higher incomes can save an increased proportion of income.

Symbolic Consumption, Marketing & Advertising

Sociologist Max Webber saw a persons social status as there position in society based on the level of authority and/or prestige that they hold in the eyes of others.  As is with income social status is unevenly distributed, as people with higher incomes have a higher level of status. However this is not always true with an example being ministers of religion can carry high levels of status on relatively low incomes. In UK is is common though for status to be linked to what we can buy. This in turn can be used my marketing departments to influence our spending.

Symbolic Consumption is the act of buying an item that acts as a status symbol, and can be a powerful motivation for spending.

Velban, T (1925) thought that individuals spending was a way of displaying there wealth and that they would buy luxurious items to show how well off they are. For example John buys a large house, now people are saying that John must be loaded as he’s living in such a big house. Velban called this behavior Conspicuous Consumption, and deplored it saying that “upper class lived a life of waste and ostentatiousness.”  This can still be seen in modern day life, however one consequence to this is that less well of people may try to look wealthy to increase there social status, but in doing so they get into debt.

Bourdieu , P (1977) had a different opinion on Symbolic consumption, in that it was a way of distinguishing people by Social Class. Social classes is a complex idea that breaks people down into different classes based on income, occupation education and cultural habits etc.  Instead of people wanting to show there wealth like Velban suggests, Bourdieu suggests people want to show that they belong to a certain social class and try and distinguish themselves from people in lower classes.  They can show this by having more ‘refined’ and ‘artistic’ tastes. An example could be a lower class individual may like wine and enjoy the cheaper bottle from the local shop.  An upper class individual may buy there wine from a special wine merchant and know the history and be able to speak knowledgeably about the wine.

Over time status symbols can change, an example being the brand ‘Burberry’, once an fashion symbol for the upper-class can now be seen worn by many lower-class people due to them wanting others to perceive that they are now upper-class.

Marketing departments fully understand that products have Symbolic characteristics and can use these characteristics rather than the facts and figures about a product to sell to the public.  Advertising can also be highly targeted, and used to target certain types of people by age, class gender etc.  Different TV channels carry different types of advertisements, same with newspapers and magazines.

Two different views on advertising can be that first, it is used to give people information about a product and why they need it. Another is that advertisements create a desire to have a product, even when the desire wasn’t there to start with.


A budget is used to examine and control income and expenditure over a certain time period. It can do this by controlling spending and checking to see if there is enough income to cover spending, it also allows planning to meet goals in life.  A budget has 4 stages

Stage 1 : Assess the situation, this is where an individual sits down and records all there expenses, these can be gotten from a spending diary and bank statements etc.  This moment can be called the ‘reality check’ or the ‘light bulb moment’.  It is important that all expenditures are include, yearly bills for example should be broken down to monthly figures, for example a holiday may cost £1200 putting this figure into one month wont help save for it, so it should be broken down into monthly (£100) or even weekly (£23) figures and added to the expenses.  Once all these are recorded then the expenditures and be taken from the income and then we can see if a surplus or deficit exists.

Stage 2 : Decide on a financial plan, in other words setting a budget.  once a persons desired goals or considered, a budget can be set. Goals can range from wanting to go from deficit to surplus, saving for the future, buying a house or even planning a holiday of a life time.  Now we need to work towards these goals. If people want to increase there surplus money to save for there goals the have two main options, Increase income and/or decrease spending. Increasing income could be doing extra hours, getting a better paid job or even a second job.  If the plan involves cutting expenditure then decisions need to be made as to where these cuts should happen. non-essential spending should be looked at first, what is classed a non-essential  may differ from person to person, for example some people may need there mobile phone to communicate on the move, others may be able to do without it.   Next would be to look at the essential items, these can be harder to reduce but can be done by making sure you have the best deal or rate etc.  When making purchases people sometimes think that higher price usually means higher quality, this is often not the case. Shortcuts like these are called Heuristics and are used in situations where information is limited. Other heuristics could include saying like, ‘Generic products are just main brands packaged differently.’ and ‘Larger stores offer better prices than smaller stores.’ Marketing departments can uses these thoughts to influence our purchases.  On the other side of making purchases cheapest isn’t usually the best option either, the item needs to be weighed up with all information available and a decision made on the best product to fit the job.

Stage 3 : Act on the plan, this can sometime be difficult to implement.  The envelope system is recommended, although it called envelope system this does not necessarily mean using envelopes, although it could do.  Its used to symbolize pockets of money either in an envelope or bank account or multiple bank accounts. The main idea is that once the money in in an ‘envelope’ it cant move to another, so once an envelope is exhausted then no more can be added.  This will keep expenditure under control.

Stage 4 : Review the plan, this will most likely happen after the first month, just to fine tune the expenses. Once this is done the review could be carried out every six months, or when changes happen to income or new goals etc. Inflation should also be taken into account for example items that cost £100 this year could cost £105 next year depending on inflation.

Couples, budgeting and the management of money

Economies of Scale is the result of savings made when 2 or more people use a purchase.  Heating and electricity are examples of this, when heating a house everyone in the house benefits, even though it costs the same to heat if for one person or three people. These type of goods are known as a Public Good. Economies of scale can also apply when shopping, many things can be cheaper per unit when bought in bulk or larger sizes. Food is a good example of this. A households economies of scale can be calculated using the ‘McClements Equivalence Scale’, this uses a household with a couple as the base figure,1, and adding different people to the household changes its total. This can then be used to calculate how much income a household needs to bring in in order to have the same standard of living than another.

It is more complicated for couples to manage there money than it is for individuals, the main question is of what is classed as ‘there money’. Is it jointly sheared or is there a main earner that gives an allowance to the person in charge of the finance. Some of the systems used to manage household money are, ‘Housekeeper Allowance’ where the person who makes the income gives an allowance for the running of the household and keeps the rest for themselves. The ‘Pooling System’ is where all income is pooled into a joint income and household expenditure is taken from this pool. ‘Independent Management’ is where each person keeps there money separate and they split the household expenses.

At times its not easy for couples to manage there money, as individuals may want to spend money differently. However good money management can help avoid the tension between partners.

Children also need to be taken into account when budgeting for the future, in this circumstance the budget need to be looked at carefully as it is likely income will drop when one of the parents come out of work to look after the child.  Budgeting will need to be reworked taking into account the extra expenses of having children, so that any surplus doesn’t turn into a deficit, or if it does there is enough spare cash to cover the deficit.

Symbolic Consumption can also be relevent with children with the parents wanting there status shown through what they have purchased for there children, and when the kids get older and start wanting status symbols for themselves.

So that was chapter 3

Just have to do Chapter 4 now and then it will be time to start working on the TMA02 due in by the 16th July.  I had a quick look at it and it doesn’t look to bad, just have to get used to the writing essays part of it.  Usualy I know what I want to say, I just cant get it onto paper.

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