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Essential mathematics 1

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  • Points: 30
  • Code: MST124
  • Level: 1
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Student reviews

After leaving my A-levels after the first year, I was worried about studying this module.
However, I found that a large portion does only concentrates on first-year A-level, rather than the more complex second-year stuff. It is tricky for people who have come from this background, however, it is not impossible and with some practice can easily be picked up. The only thing I really didn't enjoy was the software usage required. I had never used software for my mathematics before and using it with this just felt kind of wrong to do? I'm sure it's useful and will grow on me.

Course starting: January 2021

Review posted: January 2022

I thoroughly enjoyed this module. I found it to be quite fascinating and interesting, it was well written and I had a wonderful tutor. I enjoyed the tutor-marked assignments, the questions were great for getting you thinking and really pushing what you have learned and ensuring you have grasped the concepts taught. I haven't studied maths since GCSE's, 17 years ago, and I needed to complete this module as part of the degree path I have chosen.

Prior to the module starting, I had read through some of the GCSE revision books (the CGP ones, I'm sure some will remember these from their GCSE revision days!). I am glad I did, however, the module did revise some of the basics from GCSE level so this isn't essential pre-study study but I actually think it was helpful for me, simply because it had been so long since I had even heard some of the maths lingo.

I found this module really challenging (in a good way), but very time consuming. I was studying this one 30-credit module alone and I definitely spent as much time on it per week as I have on previous 60-credit modules so it was quite intense and tough going (don't make plans to spend time with friends and family from Jan-March which is when we covered Differentiation and Integration). I am very pleased I wasn't studying another module alongside it as I think I really might have struggled. This might just be me, I'm slow with maths, it takes me a long time to work through the book, exercises and questions and I spent a lot of time on the tutor-marked assignments. Others might have rattled through it much quicker. The unit on Taylor Polynomials is omitted from the module and the exam, which meant there was more time to prepare of the exam. The exam was the quickest 3 hours of my life! It's a big exam, a lot of questions and very fast-paced. I think I would have benefitted from spending more time on previous exam paper practices than going over the module materials so much.

I am a bit nervous to go onto 'Mathematical methods' (MST224) (starting in October 2022) - as I hear this is much more difficult and I will be doing it alongside another module. So I am apprehensive. On this basis, I will do some extra work/revision over the summer beforehand on the calculus subjects to enhance my understanding further and ensure I have these subject areas nailed before it gets more complicated.

I did really enjoy this module though, I never thought maths would be so interesting, but it is, and MST124 is quite gripping from the start and ends on a fantastic note with complex numbers which I think was my favourite unit in the module.

Course starting: October 2020

Review posted: August 2021

I have followed a somewhat convoluted route through the OU so far, having done some level 1 (120 credits of computing courses), changed to an open degree at level 2 (doing two astronomy courses), and then headed back to level 1 to complete courses that would allow me to qualify for an astronomy degree. I also really like maths, even though I did badly at school; I only have a C at O'level from 1983!

I always knew that MST124 would be a challenge... I had completed MU123 and found that very easy, but that did not count in my new pathway and MST124 was compulsory. Anyway, I elected to complete MST124 starting in the Feb group and running through to Sep for two reasons; to help deconflict from S111 (only a short overlap) and to aid with MST224 by running straight into that course which started in the Oct. The deconfliction worked well as I found the later part of MST124 a challenge; I found I was having to commit far more time to it than I expected. Preparation for the exam took me a great deal of time, and whilst I got a good pass I was not at all confident going into MST224.

The module is very interesting, and, as usual, the tutor was fantastic. The order of the course is well planned and you learn what you need in a timely fashion. It does seem to be assumed though that you are fluent in that subject as you move through the module, and new ideas are introduced assuming you got the last one. There were times that I struggled to follow examples that "jumped steps"... thank goodness for the tutor!

So I started MST224 in Oct (as per the plan) and instantly felt unprepared. There were a few things that appeared as assumed knowledge in the new module that had not been in MST124 (implicit differentiation for example) and I really felt that my competence at MST124 was not at standard for MST224. I have therefore delayed a year in order to go through MST124 again (on my own), do the bits I missed (as I ran out of time), and generally become more at ease with the subjects.

So, would I recommend MST124... Yes, absolutely (and, I had to do it to get the degree I want!). I enjoyed it most of the time, got a great result I didn't expect, and learned a lot. For me, I was just not ready for the huge jump to MST224. Had I got a background in A'level maths then perhaps I would have been better prepared. Anyway, it's a great module, fabulous materials (Books... real books!) and a great tutor!

Course starting: February 2020

Review posted: October 2020

This is an interesting, but non-intuitive module that can be enjoyable if you learn the methods instead of the applications. Unless you have a good understanding of algebra and have recently studied alternative mathematical modules this will be a difficult module to complete.

Course starting: February 2019

Review posted: September 2020

This module is a good introduction to bringing people up to speed with maths. The first few topics were a revision of GCSE and A level maths with later topics (e.g. complex numbers and Taylor polynomial series) starting to touch upon more advanced topics.

The books and tutorial materials are well written and there are plenty of practise questions to sharpen the maths skills.

I would highly recommend MST124 to individuals who would like to brush up on their maths skills and would like to enhance basic maths knowledge to more advanced levels.

Kevin Cassar

Course starting: February 2019

Review posted: June 2020

Wowee what a ride! Starts gently, then unit C Calculus arrives and before you know it, you hate the module. But, nevertheless, I survived and looking back enjoyed it immensely!

Helen Ghosh

Course starting: October 2018

Review posted: June 2020

I found this a challenging but enjoyable and interesting module. I had studied 'Discovering mathematics' (MU123) first and was glad I had as this ensured I had a good grounding to work from.
I found the study materials well laid out and clear. I found the face to face tutorials useful and enjoyable. My tutor was very helpful whenever I had a question, always responding quickly and with helpful suggestions.
I was however glad that I only did this module this year as I found it very intensive, I had to put in a lot of hours and I am in awe of those who study overlapping with 'Essential mathematics 2' (MST125)!
The exam was a big challenge for me but having the annotated handbook was very reassuring and doing lots of example papers was definitely the most useful revision tool.
Overall a really good module!

Course starting: October 2018

Review posted: July 2019

Really good module, work hard and you can easily get a distinction like I did. Thank you.

Course starting: October 2017

Review posted: June 2019

I found this module tough but very rewarding and felt that the rigorous academic experience and understanding I was yearning for was satisfied by this module. It is a whistle stop tour (but also very in depth) of essential maths for later module choices and career pathways. Some parts of the module materials are very verbose as is the need to cover each topic in detail. Fellow students recommended Kahn academy videos in addition to the examples in the module materials and I too found these almost essential to cement understanding. The exam was a huge shock to the system and I got 30% less in the exam than my OCAS score but ultimately it is good to do an exam in first year study when the stakes are low compared to year 2. Another excellent tutor who would answer questions happily and supportively.

Justin Coleman

Course starting: February 2018

Review posted: March 2019

I enjoyed this module. While starting gentle the units gradually became more advanced and focus is required to keep up with the pace of the module. The units on Taylor polynomials and complex numbers were particularly interesting and well written.
This is a balanced and well presented introduction to Mathematics.

Course starting: February 2018

Review posted: January 2019

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.

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