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Student and tutor module reviews

Pure mathematics

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  • Points: 60
  • Code: M208
  • Level: 2

Student reviews

A great course. As an engineer by background (and therefore I've majored on very applied maths), this was a real eye opener.

This is where maths really does change from what you're used to at school/college to University-level pure maths. There's still lots of the standard algebraic equations, for sure - but the course is much more about structure (group theory especially) and rigour. Let me emphasise that last point: you must reference your thinking appropriately, quoting the relevant mathematical theory that supports your supposition.

Some practical advice: when starting M208, immediately print out the last few years' exam papers (available from OUSA) and ensure you make notes, as you progress through the course, on how to answer the (standard) exam questions. While a laudable aim, you don't need to remember (or understand) absolutely everything.

The online course forums, by the way, are superbly supported. Simply ask your question - and, sometimes within minutes, a very kind tutor will give a very clear answer.

Recommended for anyone with a love of maths.

Stuart Reynolds

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: August 2013

Overall, I am satisfied with the course. Some parts are quite challenging, however, this should not be taken as a demoralising comment.

The support from the tutors was great. I can, without hesitation, recommend this course, especially if you intend to study Level three.

For the exam, go through the previous four to five years of exam papers and you are likely to perform well.

Course starting: January 2012

Review posted: August 2013

This is an excellent and well written course covering all subjects in a rigorous manner. You need to be very careful how you answer an analysis question in part 2 of the exam paper. I am sure the OU is more particular than most universities - perhaps this should be explored! I was advised at the revision weekend to avoid analysis questions in part 2 so I did the group theory question instead and of course everyone does the linear algebra question.

Overall a good course which prepared me well for M337 which I have just finished. As I am doing M336 next year the material for revising group theory is very good. I can recommend this course.

John Moffat Scott

Course starting: January 2012

Review posted: June 2013

After completing Mst121 and Ms221, I embarked on the challenge of studying M208. I thoroughly enjoyed this course, despite the fact that it is a real step up from the previous two courses I studied. There are hundreds of proofs that I found difficult to follow, although, a lot of them I skipped but still managed to understand the main concepts and achieve a distinction for my final grade.

As I recently completed A-level maths at my sixth form before deciding to begin an OU degree in maths, the previous knowledge I had helped significantly in completing this course. I would strongly advise anyone who is planning to study this course, to have a thorough knowledge of MST121 and MS221 before attempting this course, in particular, calculus, matrices, vectors and the graph sketching strategy covered in MS221.

When preparing for the final exam if you practise lots of past papers, you will notice that many of the questions are similar in style and wording but have different values or functions to work with. My advice is to revise the examples in the course books so that you become familiar on how to present your answers in the examination. Also the Black Badge Press website contain answer booklets that you can buy which have unofficial mark schemes to aid students with their past papers. I strongly recommend purchasing this book as the way they present their answers are easy, concise and totally in line with the way the OU present their examples to the questions in the course books.

On the whole this is a very satisfying course and the next logical step to take if you have completed MST121 and MS221 towards a degree in mathematics.

Joshua Robinson

Course starting: January 2012

Review posted: January 2013

In my opinion an excellent course. I particularly liked the way that analysis was taught. The groups section was hard but satisfying. There was quite a long introduction section so this course is ideal for anyone who neeeds a refresher. Exam was very fair and my extensive use of past papers served as excellent revision.

Course starting: January 2011

Review posted: June 2012

A well-designed course covering many aspects of Pure Maths. The module texts are well-written with many examples. The accompanying audio-visual parts are not up to the same standard, but I ended up ignoring them as I thought they added nothing to the understanding of the Maths. The exam is highly predictable if you do as many past papers as you can. Note, this also helps with deciding which parts of the course to concentrate on for intensive revision.

Course starting: January 2011

Review posted: December 2011

A nice module covering Analysis, Group Theory and an introduction to Linear Algebra.

The course notes are very well written and help students that are not, lets say, ''talented'' to understand university mathematics. This is really important, since subjects like analysis often frighten students.

However, this course will let down a student that looks for challengig problems in TMAs... All TMA or exam problems can be solved by just applying a standard stategy and require almost no thinking.

Course starting: January 2009

Review posted: August 2010

I very much enjoyed the content of this course. I found it refreshing to come across new material,(non A-level) even though at first glance some of it looked a bit daunting. On the downside I found it difficult to make any tutorials through the location offered and feel my studies may have suffered a little in comparison to the one on one tutorship I more or less enjoyed on MS221. I don't want to be unfair to my tutor because I don't think it was his fault, but for me this was very remote learning.

Have started MST209 which geographically stretches my new tutor even further but now we have Elluminate!-- let's hope it does.

Stick out the matrice and eigenvector sections of M208, they are all revisited in MST209. Unfortunately so is Mathcad but you can't have everything. I found the exam to be fair in that I did not meet any surprises. Just missed out on a Distinction - you will do better if you choose your questions in Part 2 with more care than I did.
All in all - I recommend.

Alan Adkins

Course starting: January 2009

Review posted: March 2010

This course will give you a basic knowledge of the mathematics (especially analysis and linear algebra) that is needed for subjects such as computer science, statistics, economics, engineering and many more.

Note that, although it is a course about pure mathematics, most of the exercises and assignments are very practical and test your ability to use the material you have just learned, rather than your ability to write proofs (except for some very straightforward cases, where you can apply standard rules).

This course covers some difficult materials, particularly towards the end, but the assignments and exam, on the other hand, are quite easy (in my year 30% of the students got a distinction).

If you really want to learn how to write proofs, then there is still a long way to go after this course. You could start with trying to reproduce some of the proofs without looking at the text. Believe me, this is often far from easy! You might also want to have a look at some of the standard textbooks that have exercises with full solutions.

I very much liked this course, and I almost signed up for the Groups and Geometry course afterwards (but then I came back to my senses again!)

Course starting: January 2009

Review posted: February 2010

A good course covering only (some of the) topics that should be required knowledge for any maths degree.

It would be unfair to complain about the absence of this topic in linear algebra (e.g., Cayley-Hamilton theorem) or that one in real analysis (e.g., Cauchy sequences): there is only so much that one can put in a 60-point course that also includes a delightful introduction to group theory.

The course materials may appear to be a bit too verbose, but they are absolutely terrific for a beginning student - short of maths-chip-implant science fiction stories, I cannot think of an easier way of learning these topics.

If I really had to find something negative to say about this course, I would pick on the TMAs. They were not particularly stimulating (too close to the examples and exercises in the text) and the grading enforced an excessively pedantic attitude to writing proofs (e.g., Problem: prove X; Answer: here is a proof that W implies X and here is a proof of W; Grader: you lose a point because you have not concluded your answer by saying that ((W implies X) and (W is true) imply (X is true)).

Course starting: January 2008

Review posted: November 2009

This is a course where rigour is vastly important. But tutors help. Even if you get 90+ for an assignment, they will write pages about how you can improve.
It deals with the difficult bits such as continuity, differentiability and convergence very well. I put the audio for these on my mp3 player and listened to them time and time again as I worked out at the gym.

I was disappointed that no Mathcad was built into the course, but there were some suggestions.

In the exam, I panicked on one of the section 2 questions, so did another one. Getting section 1 questions done quickly is important. So practice.

Vincent James Lynch

Course starting: January 2008

Review posted: August 2009

Overall, a demanding but very interesting course. A lot of information needs to be taken in, but the OU material is very explanatory. TMAs were a good indication of whether you understood the material or not and practise papers with answers were very helpful in preparing you for the exams. I did enjoy the course and am pleased with what I have learnt.

Course starting: January 2008

Review posted: April 2009

I really enjoyed this course. I found it challenging enough to be interesting, but not so difficult that I felt like giving up. The tutorials were excellent and well worth the effort to get there, as was the revision weekend. Having worked through all the past papers nothing in the exam came as any surprise.

Course starting: January 2008

Review posted: January 2009

Good course, very thorough in approach for the topics that matter.

It can be a struggle to get it all down because the concepts are quite abstract and parts of the units really push forward quickly compared to other courses (which can open your mind: imagine four vectors all perpendicular but facing in different directions?) but you'll get there in the end if you keep up with the deadlines. A good piece of advice is to start studying the next unit at the right time, even if it means under-completing a TMAa. Otherwise you might end up on a carrot on a stick chase.

The group theory part of this course is quite substantial and can seem dull until it becomes more familiar but I eventually found a strength with it and scored higher on that part for TMA's and exams. There are harder parts to the course.

I have to say that despite the blood, sweat and tears I can grit my teeth and admit to myself that I enjoyed the challenges and difficulties of the course.

Despite my low exam grade (but high assignment grades) the exam did seem fair and familiar, I would recommend highly to get through as many past exam papers as possible before the exam. I know that I would have excelled if I'd done this instead of going on holiday for two weeks!

Ben Glancy

Course starting: January 2008

Review posted: January 2009

An extremely hard Maths course in my opinion! I found this course very tough academically, though the workload was not particularly hard. The concepts were quite hard to grasp at first, especially the 'Linear Algebra' block, which does not have any DVD programmes associated with it. Unlike previous reviews, I found the audio CDs very useful when going through the blocks. Also, 'Group Theory' was suprisingly useful, especially the 'counting theorem'.

Our tutor was excellent, very knowledgeable and helpful, although there were not as many tutorials as previous maths courses. But I understand that is 'par for the course' for Level 2.

I did this course as it is compulsory for the B31 BSc Mathematics degree. My tutors recommended doing this before MST209. It's not a course I would have chosen to do, as I am more of an 'applied maths' person, coming from an engineering background. That said, I plan on doing some 'pure maths' courses at Level 3 in a few years time, and I feel much more confident about doing so now, having got a grade 2 pass in M208. This is a recommendation for M337 Complex Analysis, which I hope to study in 2011.

Christopher Bernard Clarke

Course starting: January 2008

Review posted: December 2008

Please note

Each of the views expressed above is an individual's very particular response, largely unedited, and should be viewed with that in mind. Since modules are subject to regular updating, some of the issues identified may have already been addressed. In some instances the faculty may have provided a response to a comment. If you have a query about a particular module, please contact your Regional Centre.


Module satisfaction survey

The figures below are taken from a survey of students who sat the exam/completed the end-of-module assessment for the October 2013 presentation of M208. The survey was carried out in 2014. 41.4% of our students responded to the survey covering what they thought of 10 aspects of the module. See this page for the full text of questions and more information about the survey.

Overall, I am satisfied with the quality of this module 93.6 %
Overall, I am satisfied with my study experience 92 %
The module provided good value for money 77.2 %
I was satisfied with the support provided by my tutor/study adviser on this module 91.6 %
Overall, I was satisfied with the teaching materials provided on this module 88.6 %
The module met its stated learning outcomes 91.9 %
I would recommend this module to other students 86.6 %
The module met my expectations 90.1 %
I enjoyed studying this module 84.7 %
Overall, I was able to keep up with the workload on this module 77.2 %
Faculty comment: "We are pleased that M208 continues to receive very high scores in this survey, in particular the satisfaction of students with the quality of the module (93.6%). The team will work to ensure that these high standards are maintained. "
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