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Student and tutor module reviews

Graphs, networks and design

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  • Points: 30
  • Code: MT365
  • Level: 3
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Student reviews

This was my second to last module, I wish I could have ended with this one as It would have meant going out on a 'high'. For me it was a thoroughly, engaging and rewarding course and the tutors were both exceedingly knowledgeable and supportive.This was by far my most enjoyable module.

Some people have said that they did not feel the module stretched them as much as other OU level 3 modules but I found it was in the detail and in deepening an understanding beyond what was being presented where my skills and ability to apply them were tested.

The forum was fully utilised, with engaging commentary from student and tutors and there is a plethora of supporting resources to enable you to extend your understanding beyond the course text books. I liked the format of the course material which has a separate book for each subsection of the syllabus, the additional materials were an enhancement rather than a necessity as the text books themselves are more than sufficient to ensure you do well in this module. I found the etutorial recordings in particular most useful to support tutor-marked assignment work. The feedback provided by my tutor was invaluable as was the verbal feedback in the live online tutorials.

I enjoyed the variety of the module and the real life application of the ideas presented, including Spanning Trees, Network flows, and Coding to name a few.

A huge thank you to Bridget, Noel and the team for all your help and encouragement especially in these unprecedented times.

Course starting: October 2019

Review posted: August 2020

Several reviewers describe MT365 as a relatively easy '30-pointer'. That wasn't my experience. I very much enjoyed it but there is a lot of content, and not much connection between that content (which often seemed to me to be a form of advanced geometry) and other mathematics I've studied. True, because much of it is unfamiliar several units start with very simple basics and this is reflected in some fairly easy exam questions. But to get a distinction is another thing altogether. So maybe it is easier to pass but harder to do very well in. Or maybe it's just me. One final thing - brush up on techniques for mathematical proofs. This isn't really covered in the course but is important for both the assignments and the exam.

John Schofield

Course starting: October 2018

Review posted: December 2019

This is an excellent course covering a wide range of mathematics from graph theory to code design.

Some reviewers have said this course is one of the easier ones at Level 3 - a warning: it isn't. While it's certainly the most accessible (you don't need too much background in pure and applied maths), to do well you need to master some very tricky concepts. I'm on a maths degree pathway (so have completed all the maths Level 2 courses, and a couple of other maths L3s) but found mastering some of the algorithms in this course not straightforward, and some graph theory exam questions can hide some astonishing subtleties.

The course's breadth is impressive: for example, the network side of graph theory will certainly help engineers understand bandwidths limits, while the graph colouring part could help you seat 120 wedding guests, some of whom don't get along, at a dozen or so conflict-free tables. So a wide-ranging course!

But do go into this course with your eyes open - it's enjoyable, certainly do-able, but hard in parts. The course forums are well-supported, and the recorded e-tutorials are worth watching. There are also lots of past exam papers (which you can buy from OUSA) and solutions.

Stuart Reynolds

Course starting: October 2014

Review posted: November 2015

Of the modules I'd taken at this point MT365 was my least favourite of all. Unlike other maths modules this does not have a huge amount of calculating to do making it the easiest maths module in those terms. However the majority of your time is spent reading abstract ideas and problems as well as drawing numerous graphs and diagrams. The maths throughout each topic is straightforward, being basic addition, subtraction, division and multiplication.

The main textbooks were dryly written and some sections were rather aimless. Some of the algorithms aren't clear - but advice on the forums and the moderator Noel Eastham did help clear them up. The audio sections were useful in showing basic step-by-step examples of some algorithms. The DVD was rather superfluous. Over the whole course I only watched one of the seven programmes for a TMA question.

While I did learn some useful and interesting networks information, overall I never felt properly engaged by the module nor felt that I benefited from taking it. On completion I've been left feeling that I've squandered 30 credits.

Peter Patching

Course starting: October 2014

Review posted: October 2015

Faculty response

Our modules are designed to suit different interests and MT365 could be described as 'broad but not deep'. We regret that you did not find MT365 very fulfilling. MT365 gets very good results in the module review with the vast majority of MT365 students being satisfied with the quality and the teaching materials for the module.

This was my first OU course after spending 5yrs studying with my local college so I was quite worried about being on my own. But the materials and support available throughout this course was brilliant especially the video tutorials.

The course material was very well presented and easy to follow. The TMAs were even quite enjoyable to do, but check & check again your answers and try and get ahead as they are quite long and very time consuming.

A very enjoyable and surprising course and well worth taking.

Course starting: October 2012

Review posted: January 2014

This was my first ever OU course and I have to admit I thoroughly enjoyed it. The course material on the whole is well laid out and clear to understand, the TMAs & CMAs are straight forward enough but be prepared to do a lot of graphs and charts, I purchased Microsoft Visio for my diagrams and it was money well spent.

The exam itself was not as bad as I expected but I would advise getting hold of as many previous papers as possible & practice against the clock as 3 hours disappears fast when you have to draw & write so much.

The forum is also a valuable tool with excellent support from follow students and tutors.

I highly recommend this module, I was surprised how much relates to everyday events. 9/10

Rob Crump

Course starting: October 2012

Review posted: October 2013

This module seemed very interesting from the description and it did not fail to deliver. There was lots of helpful advice on the OU forum and Noel Eastham is an absolute star with lots of recorded tutorials to watch.

Graph theory was a fab subject along with Networks and design which all had very algorithmic solutions to problems. Lots of real world examples such as travelling salesman and critical path analysis.

TMAs were great fun but make sure you stick to the algorithms exactly or else you will lose marks even if the correct result is obtained.

The exam is in two parts and part 1 questions are quick 5 pointers so easy to revise for and get most of the marks. Part 2 you have to answer one question from each of the sections (graphs, networks,design) and are more detailed and worth 15 points for each. The distinction points are the last five or so marks of these part 2 questions.

A very nice course with great support and you can do very well on this module with effort and the past papers and the residential weekend covers this module too although I did not do it for this module.

Darren Roy Ellis

Course starting: October 2012

Review posted: August 2013

I really wanted to enjoy this course, and there were many parts of the course I did thoroughly enjoy, but for some reason, when put together in to a module, I found it a bit disappointing. It's like ordering your favourite main course and dessert in a restaurant, only to find it is served all in the same bowl.

The course is composed of three parts, hence the Graphs, Networks and Design name. But many of the sections feel very distinct, in particular the Design parts, and the whole course felt very disjointed. While the maths used is often quite straightforward, the course revolves very much around algorithms, which often require a reasonable amount of time to learn, yet once you do, you don't really feel like you've learnt much. What added to the frustration was the description of some of the algorithms in the course materials, which were very obtuse, and indeed in the recorded tutorials a significantly different approach was taken.

Perhaps the biggest issue I found, however, was the constant stream of errata in both assignments and course materials, which given the age of the course materials was very surprising and disappointing.

If you work with the past papers, then it is possible to score well, but even though I scored well in both assignments and the exam, ultimately I don't really feel like I've really pushed my knowledge on with this course.

Course starting: October 2012

Review posted: August 2013

Great course and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The work wasn't difficult but there were lots of different techniques and algorithms to get to grips with.

The recorded tutorials were absolutely fantastic and the course would've been very tricky without them. They were invaluable throughout the TMAs and revision.

Course starting: October 2012

Review posted: July 2013

I found this course very enjoyable. It covers a large mixed bag of subject areas. The graph parts cover graph theory and case studies such as music, chemistry and ecology, minimum connector problems, planar graphs and graphs and computing. The networks covered flows, project planning and scheduling, matchings and logistical problems, and electrical circuit theory. The design parts basically covered geometry, mechanics, coding theory and block designs of experiments and sampling.

The graph parts were pretty easy going throughout. The networks sections were a little more tricky, easpecially the physical networks block which concentrated on electrical circuit theory. I found the design parts the hardest, especially the coding theory and the stuff on kinematics but the geometry and block design stuff was pretty easy.

The TMAs were not too bad, and covered the material well. Overall a great module.

Andrew Scott

Course starting: February 2011

Review posted: August 2012

If you need to do a Level 3 maths course to get your degree do this one. You don't need a calculator, you can safely ignore the course software, you don't need to integrate anything or use the greek alphabet.

This is a gentle backwater "maths" course from which you will learn how to describe a cube in about 500 words and a tube map will take on a whole new meaning.

A couple of the later sections could be classed as hard, the one on codes for example and there is a poor section about electrical circuits.

The bulk however is quite easy and sometimes fun, the bin packing algorithm section could be passed at exam by an average 14 year old. It gets a little harder later in the exam but you should have a Level 2 by then.

Sean Robinson

Course starting: February 2011

Review posted: December 2011

I really loved this course. It covered a lot of ground and tackled some fascinating problems. There was plenty in here very relevant to computer science, which is my primary interest, and there was none of that "messy" continuous maths stuff like calculus.

I'm not big on mechanics so I struggled a bit with physical networks and with kinematic design, but it was still quite interesting. I'm also weak on proofs, so some of the more theoretical graph theory stuff was a bit tough - but you don't need to be good at proofs to do well in this course. Networks is mostly pretty easy - it's just a question of keeping everything straight in your head and methodically applying algorithms.

Design is the most varied and the most fun - Code design, Block Design and Geometric design all seemed to reveal something of the universe's deep structure and beauty. The TMAs were actually rewarding to do and the exam is fine as long as you do lots of past papers (luckily there are decades of them), practice pacing yourself (time is the biggest problem), and put in the effort to annotate your handbook really well over the course of several weeks of revision.

I didn't realize all the good stuff I would study in this course - I actually chose it for more Machiavellian reasons: quite a lot of people who take it (I think about a quarter?) get distinction, and I wanted to boost my degree classification.

Despite being pretty sure I had muffed up the exam, I did just squeeze a distinction, so now I am changing my degree plans so I can count this course! I haven't actually done any other maths courses yet, except MST121 which I studied at the same time as this. I guess I'd better go back and do Level 2 now, as I don't think there's any other L3 maths courses I could get a good grade in without that background. But with this one, it's possible.

Elizabeth Wade

Course starting: February 2010

Review posted: December 2010

I thought this was an interesting and varied course. Having to write a few short essays was a bit traumatic for someone who's been doing maths courses for a while, but they did help me identify the main points of particular subjects. There was a lot to revise, but with plenty of past papers to practice on the exam was fine.

Course starting: February 2010

Review posted: December 2010

Candidates are not allowed to use calculators in the final exam and therefore fantastic mental arithmetic powers are not required. However, you do need to have the analytical approach required for mathematics. As someone undertaking MT365 after several engineering courses, I thought this course was very much more 'M' than 'T'. I thought the Networks and Graphs threads fitted together quite well, but, at least in the first two phases, the Design themes seemed to have appeared from another course. Overall, this was an interesting course with a mixture of divergent themes that I would recommend others to do if they need 30 points to complete their quota.

James Graham Macdonald

Course starting: February 2009

Review posted: January 2010

I'd say MT365 should be the first Level 3 course for most students who are considering it, as it could be more intermediate Level 2 <—> Level 3 than truly Level 3.

It has nicely practical-based ways of presenting pure maths concepts without the annoying aspects of pure maths [proving the origin of the + sign etcetera!]

Most of all, in 2006, ¼ of all students sitting got 85%+ in the OES, so it should be an overall grade improver for most of you!

As a course, it presents a large amount of knowledge, perhaps in nature similar to the kind of knowledge in MS221, at a more advanced level; describing the applicability of Mathematics in various areas, in a way that fits together well, in a way that sticks in the mind, without being particularly 'heavy' on the Maths itself.

Mark Benjamin

Course starting: February 2006

Review posted: December 2006

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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