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Starting with maths

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Mathematics, as well as being a fascinating subject, underpins practically every aspect of modern life. Whether you’re keeping tabs on a budget, tackling a DIY project or devising a formula for a spreadsheet, you’ll need to understand maths. This Openings Access module introduces a range of key ideas to help you tackle everyday mathematical problems and also gently introduces you to OU study – ideal if you’re a beginner or returning to study. You'll also try out learning online; the perfect way to gain the basic computing skills you’ll need for the next step in your studies.

This Openings Access module is only available if you live in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales.

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No current presentation - see Future availability

This course is expected to start for the last time in March 2014.

What you will study

If you are particularly interested in maths, or you want to study a maths-based subject or one where maths will feature significantly, Starting with maths offers a friendly introduction. The Openings Access module will help you to feel more confident in using maths in a variety of different situations – at home, in work or in your other studies.

There are four main themes developed in the module:

  • improving your mathematical skills including using a calculator effectively
  • developing problem-solving strategies so that you know what to do when you get stuck
  • practising general study skills to help you become an effective learner
  • learning how to use your computer for studying.

Using mathematics in the real world is sometimes quite different to tackling a clearly-stated problem in a textbook. During the module, you will consider several real-life examples, including a case study based on a conservation issue, so that you can see the differences yourself, and feel more confident in using mathematics in your own life to solve problems and make decisions. Being able to communicate using mathematical ideas is important, whether you are reading the work of others or explaining your own solutions. The module will help you develop these skills, in particular using notation and language appropriately and writing good mathematical solutions that are easy to understand.

As well as maths that is useful in everyday situations, such as using fractions, decimals and percentages, numbers, graphs, word formulas, geometry and handling data, this module also includes puzzles, bits of history and some mathematical ideas that are fascinating in their own right.

You will find the module useful whether you are building up towards regular, structured study or are simply interested in finding out about mathematics and its place in our lives. In this module the mathematical ideas are emphasised more than the technological and scientific ones, although the skills are equally appropriate for anyone who intends to study technology or science.

These ideas are explored further on the website where you can study two more chapters online. You will have the opportunity to gain skills such as working with podcasts, using online forums, using spreadsheets and searching the internet for information. This experience will provide you with a gentle introduction to using a computer to support your study, and will equip you with the basic computing skills you will need for the next step in your studies.

You only need to use a computer for the last part of the module once you've completed the book, so if you don’t currently have one you’ve plenty of time to make arrangements. You can use your own computer or one at a library or drop-in centre. Please note that you can study and pass this module if you don’t have access to the internet and a computer.


Like all Openings Access modules, this module is ideal if you’re a beginner or returning to study, we will help you to develop your study skills and become a confident learner.

You can study this module as an additional preparatory stage of your chosen qualification, or as a standalone module but whichever option you chose, you will receive all the preparation you need to be a successful university student.

The study materials have been prepared with the needs of new learners in mind. No special knowledge or previous experience of studying is required. You will develop key study skills such as time management, note taking, reading for study purposes and reflection on your own learning.

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

Outside the UK

This Openings Access module is only available if you live in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales.

If you live in England, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, or if you have a British Forces Post Office (BFPO) address, we offer a choice of three 30-credit Access modules:


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

Alternative questions will be provided for any assignments that depend on visual or aural material. 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, scientific or foreign language materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. The study materials are available on audio in DAISY Digital Talking Book format. 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.

To do the online element of this module you will need to make use of a personal computer and the internet. If you use specialist hardware or software to assist you in operating a computer or have concerns about accessing the type of material outlined, talk to the Student Registration & Enquiry Service before registering about the support which can be given to meet your needs.

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, DVD, a calculator and a website where you can access the online resources.

Digital copies (PDFs) of most study materials, and transcripts of the DVD can be found on the website. Transcripts are also available on the DVD itself, if it is accessed through a computer.

You will need

Access to a telephone (preferably a landline) for contact with your tutor; and the equipment to play and watch a video DVD e.g. a television and DVD player or a personal computer with DVD drive.

You will need access to the internet and a computer to study the last two chapters of this module and if you wish to receive and send email and use our online services.

Computing requirements

This course includes optional, online, computer activities, which you can access using a web browser.

To take part in the online activities you will need a computer with internet access.

  • 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 keep in touch by a combination of telephone, written correspondence and, if you want, email. There are no face-to-face tutorials; all tutorials are conducted between you and your tutor on the telephone. Your tutor will help you to plan your work and to think about the ideas explored in the module. Your tutor will also comment on and help you with your written work. At the end of the module you will discuss your progress with your tutor, and you will work together to review your learning.

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


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.

The interactive computer-marked assignment (iCMA) must be submitted online.

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in June and November 2013 and March 2014 when we expect it to be available for the last time. Each module lasts for a maximum of 20 weeks.

How to register

Student Reviews

“Y182 really is an easy start. I chose this as my only maths background was an 'O' level taken decades ...”
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“I decided to do this course, since I had not studied for a while. Also wanted to brush up on ...”
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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 Y182
Credits 15
OU Level 1
SCQF level 7
FHEQ level 4
Course work includes:
2 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
1 Interactive computer-marked assignment (iCMA)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

Course satisfaction survey

See the satisfaction survey results for this course.

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