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Student and tutor module reviews

Mathematical methods

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  • Points: 30
  • Code: MST224
  • Level: 2
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Student reviews

I found this a very enjoyable module to work through. In the first unit, it allows you to revise the key topics, like differentiation, integration, trigonometry and basic calculus that are used throughout the module. I found first and second-order differential equations, vector calculus and systems of non-linear differential equations particularly interesting. What I also enjoyed about the module is that it gave students a good amount of time to consolidate their learning before submitting their tutor-marked assignments and interactive computer-marked assignments and I also found using and annotating the handbook very useful, particularly when I came to revision for the exam. It does progressively get harder as you go through, but it's very rewarding and helpful for OU level 3 studies.

The tutorials, practice quizzes and screencasts were very helpful in consolidating my understanding of the information and my tutor was helpful in guiding me on my strengths and weaknesses, as well as understanding my situation beforehand.

Course starting: October 2020

Review posted: May 2022

This is a very in-depth and rapid paced module, quite the leap from 'Essential mathematics 1' (MST124) from which it follows. If you have a complete and comfortable understanding of the methods and procedures of MST124 this will be challenging but enjoyable. If you are not comfortable with these methods it will be a struggle.

Course starting: October 2019

Review posted: September 2020

I thoroughly enjoyed the my mathematical modules in the first year (Discovering Mathematics and Essential Mathematics), so assumed that Mathematical Methods would be a natural choice for me in my second year.

However, the moment I started the course I was told that 100% of the final mark was the exam.

This is obviously problematic as having a coursework/exam balance like most other modules is essential at assessing both practical real-world applications of what youve learned (coursework) and knowlege retention (exam).

So this pretty much killed the entire module for me. All coursework had no insentive and if you are unlucky enough to be doing several modules at once you will find your final exam crammed right next to your other exams - making revision is hard.

I wouldnt recommend this module to anyone, especially if they struggle with exams (which is part of the reason why we are back att he OU in the first place).

The OU have failed to understand their students with this.

Simon Tompkins

Course starting: October 2018

Review posted: June 2020

Faculty response

The module MST224 "Mathematical methods" teaches the core methods that are needed for many applications of mathematics in physics, engineering, economics and higher-level mathematics.

The student population of the module is diverse as it reflects the broad applicability of the methods to many disciplines. For this reason the assessment of MST224 focusses on testing the methods themselves rather than any particular discipline. So, although the module contains many case studies where methods are applied in different disciplines, the assessment does not single out any particular discipline.

Both the continuous assessment and the exam are focussed on testing the core mathematical methods, and both cover the learning outcomes of the module. Either type of assessment could in principle be used to determine the final grade, but the exam is preferred because it encourages students to consolidate knowledge from throughout the module in preparation for future studies.

The exam is carefully designed for Open University students so that it does not require memorisation of facts (everything required is written in the exam Handbook, which students can refer to in the exam) or particularly quick calculation (the exam is not a speed test).

The continuous assessment is an important part of MST224 in order to provide necessary practice, as the best way to learn mathematical methods is by actively using the techniques, and then receiving personalised feedback from a tutor. Thus there is a threshold on the MST224 continuous assessment to help ensure students satisfactorily engage with it. It is our experience that students who do so fully generally perform better in the exam and are better placed to study successfully at OU level 3.

This is an important module for all subsequent modules in maths and science.
The mathematical ideas and concepts are narrow in scope (mainly calculus and applied differential equations) but more than make up in complexity and depth. Despite the relativity easy introduction I found the module quickly becoming much harder as it progressed.
The later units expect a very high level of proficiency and are written accordingly.
Nonetheless the mathematics contained is interesting and forming the basis later modules are based upon. A hard and uncompromising module.

Course starting: October 2018

Review posted: November 2019

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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