Your feedback is important to us
Please take two minutes at the end of your visit to help us improve our information and services.
Skip to content The Open University

Pure mathematics

On this page

Pure mathematics is one of the oldest creative human activities and this module introduces its main topics. Group Theory explores sets of mathematical objects that can be combined – such as numbers, which can be added or multiplied, or rotations and reflections of a shape, which can be performed in succession. Linear Algebra explores 2- and 3-dimensional space and systems of linear equations, and develops themes arising from the links between these topics. Analysis, the foundation of calculus, covers operations such as differentiation and integration, arising from infinite limiting processes. To study this module you should have a sound knowledge of relevant mathematics as provided by the appropriate Level 1 study.

Modules at Level 2 assume that you are suitably prepared for study at this level. If you want to take a single module to satisfy your career development needs or pursue particular interests, you don’t need to start at Level 1 but you do need to have adequately prepared yourself for OU study in some other way. Check with our Student Registration & Enquiry Service to make sure that you are sufficiently prepared.

Register for the course


Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£775.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2016.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£775.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2016.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£1625.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2016.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£775.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2016.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£775.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2016.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£1465.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2016.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£2632.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2016.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£2632.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2016.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£775.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2016.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£2632.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

See below for information about part time tuition fee loans available for study towards a qualification.

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2016.

*Fees may vary by country.

What you will study

Pure mathematics can be studied for its own sake, because of its intrinsic elegance and powerful ideas, but it also provides many of the principles that underlie applications of mathematics.

This module is suitable whether you want a basic understanding of mathematics without taking the subject further, or to prepare for higher-level modules in pure mathematics, or if you teach mathematics (it includes a good deal of background to the A-level mathematics syllabuses, for example).

You will become familiar with new mathematical ideas mainly by using pencil and paper and by thinking. You will need a scientific calculator but will not need it in the examination. You do not need a computer, though there are many opportunities to use one to reinforce your understanding of new topics if you so wish. 

Introduction Real Functions and Graphs is a reminder of the principles underlying the sketching of graphs of functions and other curves. Mathematical Language covers the writing of pure mathematics and some of the methods used to construct proofs. Number Systems looks at the systems of numbers most widely used in mathematics: the integers, rational numbers, real numbers, complex numbers and modular or ‘clock’ arithmetics.

Group Theory (A) Symmetry studies the symmetries of plane figures and solids, including the five ‘Platonic solids’, and leads to the definition of a group. Groups and Subgroups introduces the idea of a cyclic group, using a geometric viewpoint, as well as isomorphisms between groups. Permutations introduces permutations, the cycle decomposition of permutations, odd and even permutations, and the notion of conjugacy. Cosets and Lagrange’s Theorem is about ‘blocking’ a group table, and leads to the notions of normal subgroup and quotient group.

Linear Algebra Vectors and Conics is an introduction to vectors and to the properties of conic sections. Linear Equations and Matrices explains why simultaneous equations may have different numbers of solutions, and also explains the use of matrices. Vector Spaces generalises the plane and three-dimensional space, providing a common structure for studying seemingly different problems. Linear Transformations is about mappings between vector spaces that preserve many geometric and algebraic properties. Eigenvectors leads to the diagonal representation of a linear transformation, and applications to conics and quadric surfaces.

Analysis (A) Numbers deals with real numbers as decimals, rational and irrational numbers, and goes on to show how to manipulate inequalities between real numbers. Sequences explains the ‘null sequence’ approach, used to make rigorous the idea of convergence of sequences, leading to the definitions of pi and e. Series covers the convergence of series of real numbers and the use of series to define the exponential function. Continuity describes the sequential definition of continuity, some key properties of continuous functions, and their applications.

Group Theory (B) Conjugacy looks at conjugate elements and conjugate subgroups, and returns to the idea of normal subgroups in this context. Homomorphisms is a generalisation of isomorphisms, which leads to a greater understanding of normal subgroups. Group Actions is a way of relating groups to geometry, which can be used to count the number of different ways a symmetric object can be coloured.

Analysis (B) Limits introduces the epsilon-delta approach to limits and continuity, and relates these to the sequential approach to limits of functions. Differentiation studies differentiable functions and gives l’Hôpital’s rule for evaluating limits. Integration explains the fundamental theorem of calculus, the Maclaurin integral test and Stirling’s formula. Power Series is about finding power series representations of functions, their properties and applications.

You will learn

Successful study of this module should improve your skills in working with abstract concepts, constructing solutions to problems logically and communicating mathematical ideas clearly.

Entry

This is a Level 2 module and you need a good knowledge of the subject area, obtained either from Level 1 study with the OU or from equivalent work at another university. 

You should have a good basic knowledge of elementary algebra, coordinate geometry, Euclidean geometry, trigonometry, functions, differentiation and integration. It would also be helpful to have met vectors, matrices and groups, though these are not essential. 

The ideal preparation would be good passes in both Essential mathematics 1 (MST124) and Essential mathematics 2 (MST125) (planned for October 2014), or their predecessors MST121 and MS221. Students are more likely to complete this module successfully if they have acquired their prerequisite knowledge through passing these modules. Our diagnostic quiz Am I ready to start M208? will help you to determine whether you are adequately prepared for this module.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service

Preparatory work

If you need to revise the subjects described in Entry, or you want to do some preparatory work, try reading some current A-level textbooks, such as the MEI Structured Mathematics texts on Pure Mathematics and Further Pure Mathematics published by Hodder. They contain plenty of exercises to get you used to regular study. 

For an exciting and accessible introduction to pure mathematics, try From Here to Infinity by Ian Stewart (Oxford Paperbacks).

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

If you have a disability

Please be aware that the module contains a large number of diagrams. The study materials are available in Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader and mathematical, scientific, and foreign language materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. Written transcripts are available for the audio-visual material. The books are available in a comb-bound format. Our Services for disabled students website has the latest information about availability.

If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Visit our Services for disabled students website for more information, including:

  • help to determine your study requirements and how to request the support that you need  
  • Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs)
  • using a computer for OU study
  • equipment and other support services that we offer
  • examination arrangements
  • how to contact us for advice and support both before you register and while you are studying.

Study materials

What's included

Module books, DVDs, CDs, website.

You will need

DVD and CD players.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this course as it includes online activities, which you can access using a web browser.

  • If you have purchased a new desktop or laptop computer since 2007 you should have no problems completing the online activities.
  • If you’ve got a netbook, tablet or other mobile computing device check our Technical requirements section.
  • If you use an Apple Mac you will need OS X 10.6 or later.

You can also visit the Technical requirements section for further computing information including the details of the support we provide.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. We may also be able to offer group tutorials or day schools that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to attend. Where your tutorials are held will depend on the distribution of students taking the module.  

Contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.

Assessment

The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

Please note that TMAs for all undergraduate mathematics and statistics modules must be submitted on paper as – due to technical reasons – we are unable to accept TMAs via our eTMA system.

Professional recognition

This module may help you to gain membership of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA). For further information, see the IMA website.

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in October 2014. We expect it to be available once a year.

Students also studied

Students who studied this course also studied at some time:

How to register

To register a place on this course return to the top of the page and use the Click to register button.

Student Reviews

“A great course. As an engineer by background (and therefore I've majored on very applied maths), this was a real ...”
Read more
“Overall, I am satisfied with the course. Some parts are quite challenging, however, this should not be taken as a ...”
Read more

Distance learning

The Open University is the world’s leading provider of flexible, high quality distance learning. Unlike other universities we are not campus based. You will study in a flexible way that works for you whether you’re at home, at work or on the move. As an OU student you’ll be supported throughout your studies – your tutor or study adviser will guide and advise you, offer detailed feedback on your assignments, and help with any study issues. Tuition might be in face-to-face groups, via online tutorials, or by phone.

For more information read Distance learning explained.

Are you already an OU student ? Go to StudentHome for information on choosing your next module.
Course facts
About this course:
Course code M208
Credits 60
OU Level 2
SCQF level 9
FHEQ level 5
Course work includes:
7 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
Examination
No residential school

Course satisfaction survey

See the satisfaction survey results for this course.

Your questions

Try our frequently asked questions.

Come and meet us at an event near you.

Or contact an adviser by Email or call +44(0) 845 300 60 90 +44(0) 845 366 60 35

Employers' questions

Contact Corporate Enquiries
Visit our website for employers or Email us

Get a prospectus

Download or
order