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Essential mathematics 1

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This key introductory module provides a broad and enjoyable foundation for university-level mathematics, but you do require some prior knowledge. It teaches you the essential ideas and techniques that underpin university-level study in mathematics and mathematical subjects such as physics, engineering and economics. You’ll study a range of fundamental topics – including calculus, vectors, matrices and complex numbers – and use mathematical software to solve problems. You’ll also develop your skills in communicating results and defining problems. This is not a module for beginners. Our MathsChoices website (mathschoices.open.ac.uk) contains quizzes, sample material and advice to help you decide if this is the right module for you.

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04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£1316.00
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Registration opens on 30/04/14

31 Jan 2015 Sep 2015
£1316.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2021.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£1316.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

31 Jan 2015 Sep 2015
£1316.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2021.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£440.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

31 Jan 2015 Sep 2015
£440.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2021.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£1316.00
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.

31 Jan 2015 Sep 2015
£1316.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2021.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£865.00
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Registration opens on 30/04/14

31 Jan 2015 Sep 2015
£865.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2021.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£440.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

31 Jan 2015 Sep 2015
£440.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2021.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£440.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

31 Jan 2015 Sep 2015
£440.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2021.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£985.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

31 Jan 2015 Sep 2015
£985.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2021.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£440.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

31 Jan 2015 Sep 2015
£440.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2021.
Start End Fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015
£440.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

31 Jan 2015 Sep 2015
£440.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in October 2021.

*Fees may vary by country.

What you will study

There are twelve study units in this module.

In the first two, you’ll revise and extend the basic mathematical knowledge and skills in basic algebra and graphs that should mainly be familiar to you. This revision material should help you identify and fill any gaps in your previous knowledge, and develop your basic mathematical skills to the level that you’ll need in the rest of the module. Much of the material in these two units will be available online, so you can make a start on your revision even before the module begins, if you wish. The first two units also teach you about communicating mathematics, and introduce you to the mathematical software that you’ll use in the module.

In the remaining study units you’ll cover these topics:

  • Functions: these provide a means of representing situations where one quantity depends on another. For example, the distance travelled by a car depends on the time that it has been travelling. You need to know about functions before you can study calculus.
  • Trigonometry: you’ll revise the relationships between the angles and side lengths of triangles, and the definitions of the trigonometric functions sine, cosine and tangent for angles of any size. You’ll learn many useful properties of these functions, which are used to model a wide range of cyclical phenomena, such as rotating objects, and waves.
  • Vectors: these are quantities that have both a size and a direction. You’ll learn about the mathematics of vectors, and how to use them to model a variety of physical quantities, such as speed in a particular direction.
  • Calculus: this is one of the most important and widely applicable topics in mathematics. It is concerned with quantities that change continuously, such as the distance travelled by, and the speed of, a moving object. You’ll be introduced to differentiation and integration, and learn how to use calculus to model a range of different situations and to solve problems from areas such as physics and economics. 
  • Matrices: these are arrays of numbers, which can be manipulated mathematically in various ways. They’re used extensively in both pure mathematics and mathematical applications.
  • Sequences: you’ll learn how to work with some commonly occurring types of number sequences, such as those in which each number is obtained by multiplying the previous number by a constant.
  • Complex numbers: these form an intriguing set of numbers that includes all the usual numbers, and also many `imaginary’ numbers, such as the square root of minus one. They have many uses in applied mathematics, as well as being the basis of some fascinating pure mathematics.

You’ll work mainly from the module books, which are available in various electronic formats as well as in print. You can view many of the worked examples in the books in an alternative video format, in which tutors work through and discuss the examples. You’ll also use specially-designed software applications to help you understand the concepts taught, and you’ll learn to use a mathematics computer package to solve problems. There are many online interactive practice questions to help you consolidate your learning. 

The module includes a large amount of online study material, and requires you to use mathematical software frequently, so you’ll need regular access to a suitable personal computer.

Samples of the study material, including example assessment questions, are available at our MathsChoices website.

You will learn

Successful study of this module should begin to develop your skills in:

  • expressing problems in mathematical language
  • using mathematical techniques to find solutions to problems
  • communicating mathematical ideas clearly and succinctly.

Entry

This is a key introductory Level 1 module. Level 1 modules provide core subject knowledge and study skills needed for both higher education and distance learning, to help you progress to modules at Level 2.

Although many of these topics are revised, consolidated and extended in the module, we recommend that you have some previous knowledge of:

  • arithmetic of whole numbers, decimals and fractions (including negative numbers, powers and roots)
  • algebraic manipulation, such as multiplying out brackets, factorising simple expressions, solving linear and quadratic equations, manipulating algebraic fractions and manipulating powers of variables
  • percentages, ratio and proportion.
  • coordinates of points in the plane, and the equations of straight lines and parabolas.
  • geometry of plane figures, such as the sizes of angles, alternate and corresponding angles, the areas of shapes, similar and congruent shapes, and the properties of triangles, rectangles and circles
  • geometry of solid figures, such as volumes and other properties of cuboids and cylinders
  • simple inequalities
  • trigonometric ratios – sine, cosine and tangent
  • logarithms and the rules for manipulating them.

A mathematical A-level, or a high grade in GCSE mathematics (or the equivalent), would normally provide this. If you are not familiar with the majority of the topics listed above, we recommend that you study our Level 1 module Discovering mathematics (MU123) before this module.

Essential mathematics 1 is designed to be taken either as your first university-level mathematics module or following on from Discovering mathematics (MU123).

Essential mathematics 2 (MST125) – available from October 2014 – is designed to follow on from Essential mathematics 1. However, if you have plenty of study time and a high level of confidence and fluency with algebraic manipulation you could study both modules in one year.

If you have any doubt about the level of study, or about choosing the most suitable mathematics module with which to start, please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service. or look at our MathsChoices website. The MathsChoices website also contains a self-assessment quiz to help you decide if Essential mathematics 1 is the right module for you.

Preparatory work

The first two units of the module help you to revise, consolidate and extend the basic mathematical knowledge and skills that are required in the rest of the module. Much of the material in these first two units will be available online before the module begins, and it would be a good idea to start working through it as soon as you can, to make sure that you’re as well prepared as possible for the main work in the module. Working through this material will also help you confirm whether this is a suitable module for you: if you find that most of it is unfamiliar to you, we recommend that you consider taking Discovering mathematics (MU123) first.

If you wish to do some extra preparation before starting on the study material, then we suggest that you work through a GCSE Mathematics Higher Level, or equivalent, text book, which may be available online or in a local library. You could also use a book or website to familiarise yourself with the first core module (C1 – the first pure maths module) of AS-Level Mathematics, or equivalent. This will contain some topics which you are not expected to have studied before you start this module but, if you can do some work on those as well, it may help you to get a head start with your studies. The MathsChoices website contains further suggestions for help on topics you may need to practice, for example algebra and trigonometry. 

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

By its nature mathematics is a visual subject, and this module will contain considerable amounts of mathematical notation and graphs, and other forms of diagram. If you have a visual impairment or limited manual dexterity you may experience difficulties with some of the activities and assessment questions which involve the interactive use of ICT or which have a high graphical content.

It is important to note that use of the online activities and resources, which include on-screen dynamically-changing graphs and mathematical notation, will be an integral part of your study. You will need to spend considerable amounts of time using a personal computer, and some of your assignments will be interactive and online.

Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader (and mathematical notation may be particularly difficult to read in this way). Other alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future. 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 and website, including access to computer applications and to optional online tutorials.

You will need

We recommend a basic scientific Casio `Natural’ calculator. The module website includes a calculator guide with references to this series of calculators. Note that programmable calculators are not permitted in the final examination, and many graphing calculators are also programmable.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this course as it includes online activities, for use with a web browser. There is also software to download and install on your computer.

  • 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 you may have difficulties with some software, 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. If you are new to the OU, you will find that your tutor is particularly concerned to help you with your study methods. We may also be able to offer group tutorials (online or face-to-face), that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to attend. The locations of face-to-face tutorials 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.

You can choose whether to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) on paper or online through the eTMA system. You may want to use the eTMA system for some of your assignments but submit on paper for others. This is entirely your choice.

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in October 2014 and February 2015. We expect it to be available twice a year.

How to register

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

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 MST124
Credits 30
OU Level 1
SCQF level 7
FHEQ level 4
Course work includes:
4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
4 Interactive computer-marked assignments (iCMAs)
Examination
No residential school

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