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Discovering mathematics

This key introductory OU level 1 module provides a gentle start to the study of mathematics. It will help you to integrate mathematical ideas into your everyday thinking and build your confidence in using and learning mathematics. You’ll cover statistical, graphical, algebraic, trigonometric and numerical concepts and techniques, and be introduced to mathematical modelling. Formal calculus is not included and you are not expected to have any previous knowledge of algebra. The skills introduced will be ideal if you plan to study more mathematics modules, such as Essential mathematics 1 (MST124). It is also suitable for users of mathematics in other areas, such as computing, science, technology, social science, humanities, business and education.

Modules count towards OU qualifications

OU qualifications are modular in structure; the credits from this undergraduate-level module could count towards a certificate of higher education, diploma of higher education, foundation degree or honours degree.

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Module

Module code
MU123
Credits
30
Study level
OU SCQF FHEQ
1 7 4
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
See Am I ready?

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What you will study

In order to study this module successfully you should expect to be actively doing mathematics, rather than just reading it. You will also be encouraged to develop skills in interpreting and explaining mathematics, and this aspect will be assessed in some of the assignment questions.

Samples of the study materials, including example assessment questions, are available from our MathsChoices website.

Providing you have the appropriate background knowledge (see Entry), you should expect to study for about eight hours a week. Many of the topics covered in the module depend on your understanding of topics in earlier units. So, if you have not fully understood earlier material, you may find later material more difficult and time consuming. This is particularly true of graphs, formulas and algebra. Naturally, the study time required for the module tends to increase before an assignment deadline.

You will learn

Successful study of this module should begin to develop your skills in working with mathematical concepts and using them to solve problems.

You will learn about:

  • key ideas in mathematics, including some statistics, algebra, geometry and trigonometry
  • mathematical vocabulary and notation introduced and developed in the module
  • selection and use of mathematical techniques for solving problems
  • interpretation of results in the context of real life situations
  • simple mathematical arguments
  • how to explain mathematical ideas from the module in writing
  • development of skills in learning mathematics
  • use of relevant ICT tools for learning and for working on mathematical problems
  • describing problems mathematically
  • analysing mathematical reasoning.

The module contains many real world contexts such as journey planning, glaciers, supply and demand, depreciation, poverty levels, chance events, and medical conditions (such as cancer), to help illustrate mathematical topics.

Professional recognition

This module is sometimes accepted as an acceptable equivalent qualification to GCSE grade C in mathematics by teacher training institutions, but always at the discretion of each institution. So, if you hope to use it for this purpose, you are advised to check as early as possible with your chosen teacher training institution(s). 

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 who 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 local group tutorials or day schools that you are strongly encouraged, but not obliged, to attend. Where your tutorials are held will depend on the distribution of students taking this module. Some tutors may offer online group tutorials in addition to, or instead of, face-to-face tutorials.

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. You must submit parts of the end-of-module assessment (EMA) online.

The first interactive computer-marked assignment (iCMA), covering Unit 1, is to be submitted about two weeks after the start of the module. The first TMA is to be submitted about a month after the start.

TMA questions typically involve calculating, creating and/or interpreting a graph or diagram, using algebra, and explaining your work and conclusions. The latter is one factor that makes this a university-level module and it is a new approach for some students, who may find it challenging initially. Some TMAs may also include a short question covering a wider aspect of studying maths. 

As there is no examination, the end-of-module assessment (EMA) aims to consolidate your learning across different aspects of the module. It covers the whole of the module, and is compulsory if you wish to pass the module.

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.

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.

Course work includes:

4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
5 Interactive computer-marked assignments (iCMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school


Entry

This is a key introductory OU level 1 module. OU 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.

You are advised to have previous experience in mathematics, before commencing this module. In particular, you should be confident with the following topics:

  • arithmetic of numbers, including negative numbers and fractions
  • scientific notation for numbers (sometimes known as standard form)
  • powers of numbers including square roots
  • using your scientific calculator effectively for the above topics, and for working with brackets and π
  • using simple word formulas
  • drawing and interpreting simple charts and graphs.

You are not expected to have any skills in algebra before the module starts.

It is essential that you establish whether or not your background and experience give you a sound basis on which to tackle this module, since students who are appropriately prepared have the best chance of completing their studies successfully and get the most enjoyment out of it. You are strongly advised to follow the recommendations given in the Preparatory work section below.

There are two mathematics entry-level modules, this one and Essential mathematics 1 (MST124). Your choice of which one to start with depends on your mathematical knowledge, experience and on the qualification you have in mind. 

For advice about where to begin your study in maths please look at our MathsChoices website. The website also contains a self-assessment quiz to help you decide if this is the right module for you.

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

Preparatory work

It is recommended that you work through some of the free and open educational resources from the Maths Help website, where there is a module to help you to refresh your knowledge of each of the following topics:

  • Numbers, units and arithmetic
  • Rounding and estimation
  • Ratio, proportion and percentages
  • Squares, roots and powers
  • Diagrams, charts and graphs
  • Language, notation and formulas
  • Geometry.

Alternatively, you could study any textbook that covers the same topics.

Register

Start End England fee Register
04 Oct 2014 Jun 2015 £1316.00

Registration closes 11/09/14 (places subject to availability)

Register

You may need to apply for some payment or funding options earlier. Please check the Fees and Funding information or contact us for information.

31 Jan 2015 Sep 2015 £1316.00

Registration closes 08/01/15 (places subject to availability)

Register

You may need to apply for some payment or funding options earlier. Please check the Fees and Funding information or contact us for information.

This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2019.

Ways to pay for this module

Open University Student Budget Account

The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments.

You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

  • Register now, pay later - OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
  • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your annual fees and spreads them out over up to a year, enabling you to pay your fees monthly and walk away with a qualification without any further debt. APR 5.1% representative.

Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).  

Employer sponsorship

Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU qualifications are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to achieve one. They also value the skills that students learn and can apply in the workplace.

More than one in 10 OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the qualification you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could approach your employer to see if they will sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. 

  • Your employer just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.
  • You won’t need to get your employer to complete the form until after you’ve chosen your modules.  

For more information about employer sponsorship speak to an adviser or request a call back.

Credit/debit card

You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. 

We accept American Express, Maestro (UK only), Mastercard, Visa/Delta and Visa Electron. 

Gift vouchers

You can pay for part or all of your tuition fees with OU gift vouchers. Vouchers are currently available in the following denominations, £10, £20, £50 and £100. 

Mixed payments

We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. You may, for example wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).

For more information about combining payment options, speak to an adviser or request a call back.


Note: Your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and therefore the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fees and funding information provided here is based upon current details for  year 1 August 2014 to 31 July 2015.
This information was provided on 25/07/2014.

What's included

Books, DVD, and a dedicated website containing online activities and resources.

You will need

A scientific calculator. We recommend any Casio scientific calculator with 'natural display', as these enable you to key in calculations in the same order as they usually appear in written text, and have a two-line display so that you can see both your calculation and the answer. Some instructions for using the Casio fx-83ES, and compatible models, are provided in the study materials. Any other scientific calculator is also acceptable provided that you know how to use it before the module starts, and you have access to the appropriate calculator manual (these are often available to download from the manufacturer’s website). Please note that you do not need to have a graphics or programmable calculator to study this module.

(If you have studied Science, technology and maths Access module (Y033) or the discontinued module Y182, you can use the calculator from that module providing you have access to the manual.)

You will require access to the internet at least once a week to download resources and assignments, keep up to date with news and to access the interactive computer-marked assignments (iCMAs).

A headset with a microphone and earphones is recommended in order to participate fully in online tutorials.

Computing requirements

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

  • If you have purchased a new desktop or laptop computer since 2008 you should have no problems completing the online activities.
  • If you’ve got a netbook, tablet or other mobile device check our Technical requirements section.
  • If you use an Apple Mac you will need OS X 10.7 or later.

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

If you have a disability

By its nature mathematics is a visual subject, and this module contains 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 and video 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 materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. Other alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future. 

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. Find out more about our services for disabled students.