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Student and tutor module reviews

Nonlinear ordinary differential equations

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  • Points: 30
  • Code: M821
  • Level: Postgraduate

Student reviews

I took M821 in it's Oct 15 - Jun 16 presentation and passed. This was my third MSc Maths module, having taken and passed the 'very pure' Analytic Number Theory modules; M823 and M829. IMHO, this course is the polar opposite to those, being 'uber' Applied Mathematics.

I found the module very hard academically and the workload quite a struggle. The highly 'in-depth' TMAs took around 4/5 weeks to complete, whilst working full time. I was doing 2/3 hours per night and making up time at the weekends. As a member of the 'MST209 survivors club', this brought back memories...

The 'fair' exam was also very tough, but similar to the specimen papers. It is good that you have 2 of these to revise from, as other modules only have one. Having my set book with me did not prevent my mind from going blank! Nevertheless, the material is very interesting, and seems relevant to the 'Approximation Theory' topic.

There are many errors in both the set book and the course notes, hence it is wise to pay attention to the online forum. Additionally, the set book is quite large, and awkward to manoeuvre during the exam.

My superb tutor provided excellent online tutorials and screencasts. She was rather harsh in marking the TMAs, but doubtless this was justified!

I also attended both the January and M500 weekends and found them very useful. I personally credit my pass in M821 to both the tutors. I would certainly advise attendance, time and funds permitting.

I recommend this course to MSc Maths students, but please expect a struggle. I am sticking to my plan of only studying one L8 module per year. Mathematics at 'post graduate' level is supposed to be hard! For all I know, veterans of M820 may find M821 less of a shock. However, I want a mix of 'Pure' and 'Applied' Maths on my MSc.

Christopher Bernard Clarke

Course starting: October 2015

Review posted: August 2016

Having completed M820 the previous year, I thought I would stick to applied modules for now and give M821 a go.

This is the first masters module I have tried where you learn alongside a set book. This took a bit of time to get used to, particularly as there are a number of errors in this set text. The Course Notes do help though.

I also attended an OU masters study weekend which really boosted my confidence.

Managed to pass with a very good result and am now beginning to believe I can go further on the MSc. As a result I am taking M836 this year.

All in all, a very interesting course, which delves deeper into mathematical models using high level calculus - definitely one for the applied minded!

Mark Hobbs

Course starting: February 2012

Review posted: March 2013

I really liked the course which was well presented.The exam was a true reflection of the knowledge acquired. I found the Tutor very helpful, however harsh at marking the TMAs.
Recommended.

Urim Metuku

Course starting: February 2010

Review posted: December 2010

I found this course very interesting and demanding and at times it is not obvious which methods you are intended to apply in addressing questions. The questions have to be read carefully to see exactly what is being asked.

The course notes and the text book contained many errors which were highlighted by students on the course conference and the exam contained a question on chapter 11 of the textbook which was not included in the prescribed chapters in 2008 although it is for 2009.

Nevertheless a most interesting course.

Course starting: April 2009

Review posted: June 2009

A good course with TMAs 1-3 very approachable and TMA 4 losing the plot a bit. I found it very difficult to relate the material in the last TMA to the course notes and book. It's refreshing to have a course book that's also very clear with good-quality examples.

However, the exam is far from straightforward, and although some questions follow the pattern of the TMAs, others seem totally unrelated. After going through the sample paper line by line, I went into the exam thinking that it could be the first exam I would fail in my life, despite my excellent comprehension in the TMAs. Fortunately I scraped through, but the exam should be more of a test of the TMA material to make the course fairer.

Don't let the TMAs lull you into a false sense of security. To pass well you'll have to do much more than just the TMAs.

Neil Reynolds

Course starting: February 2008

Review posted: December 2008

Having already studied the now defunct course MS323 and gained some expertise in using Maple ( but not much maths) from M833 I was very well prepared for this course. Using Maple brought the early parts of the course to life.

If you are just interested in getting a pass (however, I have not met many OU students who satisfy this criteria!) I would say that it was not a particularly demanding course. TMAs were fair to easy but I found the exam algebraically demanding. The set text was OK in places but tended to use some very involved examples where the concepts were buried deeply beneath some very complex algebra.

Ideally the Course Notes should have contained more help and particularly more accessible exercises. The author could also have given more thought to the order in which the exercises were set as often the first one often turned out to be hard or required a mathematical 'trick'. I even struggled to understand some of the answers which too often either did not actually answer the question or left out details of complicated algebra; as a result I spent too much time on the details and often did not understand the underlying ideas.

Overall I would say that the course was barely satisfactory - although personally I was very disappointed as it was the one I was most looking forward to. With some well written Course Notes it had the potential to be so much better.

Ross Anthony Walker

Course starting: February 2005

Review posted: December 2005

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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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 2016 presentation of M821. The survey was carried out in 2017.

23 students (a response rate of 40.4%) responded to the survey covering what they thought of 10 aspects of the module.

Please note that if the percentage of students who responded to this module survey is below 30% and/or the number of responses is below 23 it means that only a small proportion of students provided feedback and their views as shown here may not be fully representative of all students who studied the module.

See this page for the full text of questions and more information about the survey.

% Count
Overall, I am satisfied with the quality of this module 100 22
Overall, I am satisfied with my study experience 95.7 22
The module provided good value for money 82.6 19
I was satisfied with the support provided by my tutor/study adviser on this module 100 23
Overall, I was satisfied with the teaching materials provided on this module 95.7 22
The learning outcomes of the module were clearly stated 86.4 19
I would recommend this module to other students 91.3 21
The module met my expectations 90.9 20
I enjoyed studying this module 87 20
Overall, I was able to keep up with the workload on this module 91.3 21
Faculty comment: "With over 40% of students responding, the survey results were very positive for all criteria, the lowest being 82.6% (still high) for value for money. Of particular note was the 100% satisfaction for tutor/study adviser support, which reflects the high standard of our excellent tutors, who have also provided invaluable support through the running of online tutorials and the production of screencasts."
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