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Essential mathematics 1

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

This module is a step up from AS Level Maths and the MU123-Discovering Mathematics Module.

This course starts with Plotting Graphs and Quadratic Graphs and Equations then covers Functions, Exponential and Logarithmic Functions.

This module then moves onto Trigonometric Functions and Trig Identities, Vectors in 2D and 3D, Differentiation and Integration.

The last aspect this module looks at is Sequences and Series, The Binomial Theorem and Complex Numbers, which is a subject covered in the A Level Further Maths syllabus.

If you are a serious Mathematician and you are studying for a BSc (Hons) in Mathematics like I am, please be rest assured that it is an excellent module and a great stepping stone in terms of students wanting to study the MST125-Essential Mathematics module. The final assessment is a multiple choice examination paper. I found that this examination was quite straight forward, as long as you had covered all of the subjects within the MST124 module and that you prepare for the exam.

Finally, the MST124-Essential Mathematics 01 tutor in 2015/2016 was Jill Friedlander. I sincerely hope that this is your tutor for this module. Jill's tutorials were great and she was always available to help students with aspects of the course, when they were experiencing some difficulties.

Dominic Peter Gecas

Course starting: October 2015

Review posted: December 2016

A good maths grounding. For people considering which combination of maths modules to take please take advantage of the diagnostic tests to test your understanding. If you struggle on this course you'll probably get blown away on MST125.
In my opinion the course rests around 1st year A-Level so if you are significantly below this please consider your options, since the course is so fast moving with so much material to cover, there is no way you can catch up while you study the unit.
I did A Level maths so it was an easy decision for me, but if you have genuine doubts about your maths options, I suggest you do this as your second maths unit.

Marlon Williams

Course starting: January 2015

Review posted: July 2016

I loved this module. Everything about it: the quality of the course text, the availability of my tutor, the support provided on the forums. I'd recommend this course to anyone with an interest in maths.

Stephen Peter Mitchell

Course starting: January 2015

Review posted: July 2016

Actually very much enjoyed this. A real challenge as I went into this with pretty good but not super fresh GCSE maths knowledge and though I struggled, it was a satisfactory experience.

The materials are (almost) all available in book form which helped considerably and was mostly very well written. Some things maybe could have been explained a bit more carefully with more examples (and not presuming that one has learnt the last 10 pages off by heart already would help) and the pacing could be a bit off, with some of the TMAs feeling especially stressful. However, overall the material and assessments were very clearly and logically written and my tutor was very supportive.

The low point for me was the exam. It was my first OU exam and admittedly, I hadn't revised as well as I should of. However, the exam was considerably more difficult than the specimen I'd had no trouble doing under exam conditions the day before.

I'd still highly recommend this course to anyone needed a higher (but not too high) level of maths for their scientific/ analysis based courses. I personally think that anyone doing the Computer Science pathway should reconsider their choices if this course seems beyond them (though don't let the challenge of it deter you).

Richard Sutton

Course starting: January 2015

Review posted: June 2016

I started my Maths studies with MU123 and I'm glad that I did - I would not have coped with MST124 straight off and it would have really undermined my confidence. I think if you are confident in Maths and have a recent-ish Higher or A level you'd be fine. I used an A level book to prepare for the course - in particular getting my confidence up with quadratic equations - and I was very glad that I had.

The worst bit of the course is the introduction to calculus - this does get easier as you go on further in your studies, but be prepared for a very, very tough couple of weeks with chapters 7 and 8.

Overall a great course which prepared me well for MST125.

Pam Currie

Course starting: October 2014

Review posted: June 2016

Excellent module. MST124 was well organised, well thought out and well presented.

Topics were incrementally introduced, to ensure students have the required skills and knowledge to tackle increasingly challenging subjects.

I particularly liked this unit's organisation. Each topic had its taught portion, then an exercise booklet, then a practice quiz, then the computer marker assignment, then the tutor marker assignment. I felt this prepared me well, building up my confidence in successive stages before introducing the marked assignments.

Michael Wyse

Course starting: October 2014

Review posted: January 2016

I studied this module after MU123 and M140, with a level of apprehension as I had failed my (Scottish) Higher Maths 20 years ago, and felt that there was likely to be quite a step up from MU123. I bought an A level Maths book over the summer and while I mainly used this to revise algebra and quadratic equations, I felt this was useful - and gave me a flying start with MST124. I certainly couldn't have tackled this unit without MU123 under my belt first.

The module is challenging, but worthwhile. My advice would be to get ahead in the early sections if you possibly can, and give yourself extra time on chapters 7 and 8 - 3 weeks on chapter 7 is not enough to learn calculus from scratch, and I was lucky in that this fell over the Xmas break, when I had extra time to work on it.

Once you're over that bump, the rest is relatively straightforward, so definitely keep going! I was very nervous sitting my first Maths exam for 20 years, but had such a feeling of achievement when it was done. I'm now completing MST125 and finding that it consolidates much of MST124 (particularly calculus, matrices etc).

Pam Currie

Course starting: October 2014

Review posted: August 2015

I undertook this course, following the MU123 Discovering Maths course - as it had been 24 years since I had last done maths (for Pure and Applied A level).

The course begins with a few units that serve as a refresher to MU123 / GCSE - and then begins to ramp up in terms of intensity / difficulty. The 3 units on calculus really begin to test your mental faculties which sets you up for the last chunk of the course.

I'd recommend doing all the practice exercises as you read through, and the online tests - as these help to further explain different methods for manipulating the maths in order to derive the solution.

I found the materials well written, my least favourite unit being the one focussed on functions. I believe this could be re-worked to be more succinct and hence easier to learn.

I'd also recommend doing the TMA questions as you work through the units, as opposed to waiting near the deadline, and then having to revise and refresh your thinking before tackling. As all maths tutors advise, you cannot practice each topic enough - and doing so will set you up well for success in the final exam.

I've worked far harder on this, than other 30 credit modules within this stage of my degree - but I've found it equally more rewarding than my other modules.

I was very pleased to achieve a distinction - which made all the practice and final month's revision worthwhile.

Stuart Keith Wilson

Course starting: October 2014

Review posted: August 2015

I found this to be a fast paced, intense course which covers a lot of mathematics. Taking on MST124 is a real lifestyle choice - I'm not a natural mathematician so found that just this 30 credit module was all I could cope with and easily spent 3-4 days solid throughout the week studying it.

Having said that....WOW! There were ideas, techniques and concepts that I had no idea existed before and even though I wasn't 'into' maths before, I am now! I found myself getting really excited by parts of the course. Great, busy forum, friendly tutors - a really challenging ride at times, but so glad I did it!

Course starting: February 2014

Review posted: February 2015

I have been progressing through the maths modules starting with the maths openings module then onto the 'gentle start' maths route. I found this a challenging module as I'm not even close to being a natural mathematician!

The pace was brisk with a lot of topics covered which made the exam seem daunting but being able to write notes in the handbook helped hugely on this. Overall, I loved this module - I really felt as though I was moving forward in my understanding and my eyes were slowly but surely being opened to (and honestly, I never thought I'd say this) but maths being beautiful...

Point to note, I was careful to study this module on its own, as I was very determined to understand the concepts in it rather than just get the credits. A hard won 30 credits, but what a ride!

Course starting: February 2014

Review posted: January 2015

I was a little wary of this course as it had been several years since my A-level which hadn't gone very well. However I was pleasantly surprised, the amount of detail given in the books was excellent. Each new concept was explained several times in different ways to best help you understand it, and I found that subjects I'd found very difficult at A-level now made much more sense.

The first couple of books provide some good revision of basic skills that you build on later. Once you hit calculus it gets more challenging, but if you put in the time you'll find there's enough material to give you plenty of practice.

On that subject, the practice quizzes were excellent and I think absolutely essential for consolidating your understanding of the subject. I must have done each one 10 times before taking the relevant iCMA, they were useful because they highlighted specifically which areas you weren't comfortable with, so you didn't have to go back and revise the entire chapter.

A very well put together course, and great support from the tutor, as I have found with all my OU modules so far.

If you have a little maths background but are a bit rusty, this is the course for you.

Olivia Freestone

Course starting: February 2014

Review posted: January 2015

I found this module fine. As its title suggests it is a mathematics module and as such it was the first time I had seem some of the topics it covers, even though I had previously studied at BTec level at college.

Do not be put off by this though. As with all of the OU modules I have/are currently studying it starts off with the basics or at least a recap before it feeds in the new ideas.

I am on the Natural Sciences Physics pathway and the previous modules I had studied put me in good stead for this one.

Surprisingly the assignments do not go towards you final module grade and the exam was multi-choice - yes you read that right! Multi-Choice.

You do however have to carry out the workings but they are not used in the marking process. A specimen paper was provided and various tutors made up their own representative papers as well which were great for revision.
I was happy with my result.

One more note on the exam, you can take your handbook in with you which has so much info including methods on how to solve problems as well as all the equations you will need and something that I found astonishing was you are allowed to annotate your hand book as much as you want as long as you don't add pages or post its. You literally can fill the handbook with examples of every type of question you can think of, my inside covers and margins were full. This helped massively.

So to sum up, challenging, but compulsory for my degree. If you keep up with the timetable do some revision and annotate your hand book as you go, you should get a good result. Good luck!

Edward John Holt

Course starting: February 2014

Review posted: December 2014

Faculty response

Thank you for your review. We would like to clarify that all the assessment on MST124 (iCMAs, TMAs and the Exam) counts towards the final grade for that module.

It is hard to think of a way that this introductory mathematics module could be improved. It provides an essential foundation to further study in five of the main "pillars" of mathematics: arithmetic; algebra; geometry; trigonometry as well as calculus. An essential module for anyone planning to continue to study mathematics at the undergraduate level as it revises all the key topics taught at high school and walks you by the hand - albeit very quickly - to the required standard for SCQF Level 7 mathematics.

Michael MacKay

Course starting: February 2014

Review posted: November 2014

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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