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Essential mathematics 1

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

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

This is a very intensive module that requires grit, determination and intelligence. The coursework texts are of a very high standard that include excellently written books and well-articulated videos with some lovely accents and choreography. Books C and D were demanding and covered the A-level syllabuses on calculus, complex number and series. Sometimes it was difficult to score high assignment marks as it was easy to misjudge questions designed to test more in-depth knowledge. However, if you do not score well in the coursework tutor-marked assignments and computed-marked assessments this certainly would not debar from passing the module. In fact I found the exam very student friendly and achieved a pass above any of the coursework assessments. It certainly was a rollercoaster ride and is not for the faint-hearted. Having said this the level of maths should be in an achievement band well within the reach of students bordering AS to A-level standard although a pass in GCSE maths would do but you would probably need to work harder to tackle the more difficult topics successfully. One downside was the computer work which relies on older software and led to cumbersome keyboarding. Provided you are prepared to work hard, particularly on the last two books, this course is accessible to anyone with an interest in consolidating mathematical knowledge. One last thing, on the exam it is a straightforward multiple choice format comprising two sections. I found it paid off to concentrate revision on section B where there are four marks allocated to each of seven questions covering the more difficult chapters. It is a challenging module that develops calculus such as the chain, product and quotient rules from simpler equations to complicated functions involving trig. If you want to develop mathematical thinking up to A-level and beyond this module is for you. Good luck!

John Graham Owen

Course starting: February 2018

Review posted: December 2018

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

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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