Further pure mathematics
This module covers important topics in the theory of pure mathematics including: number theory; the algebraic theory of rings and fields; and metric spaces. You will develop your understanding of group theory and real analysis and will see how some of these ideas are applied to cryptography and fractals. To successfully study this module you must have an interest in pure mathematics and ideally should already have studied pure mathematics at level 2 as provided by our level 2 module, Pure mathematics (M208).
What you will study
This module is based around six books with each one developing a particular topic in pure mathematics. A feature of the module is that we identify a core route through each book that is sufficient to pass the module but may not enable you to gain the higher grades.
In the first book we study the integers and prime numbers. In particular we look at classical problems that require integer solutions. For example finding all integer solutions to the equation 2x + 11y = 5. We also develop methods for solving linear congruences such as ax ≡ b (mod n) and in the final chapter we study the classical theorems of Fermat and Wilson.
In the second book we consolidate and build on the group theory presented at level 2 of our curriculum in Pure mathematics (M208). The book leads up to the classification of all finite abelian groups and ends with an introduction to the problem of classifying groups that are not abelian. On completion you will be able to use the Sylow Theorems to analyse the structure of appropriate finite groups.
Numbers and Rings
In the first half of this book we consider the solution of quadratic congruences, ax2 ≡ b (mod n). In the second half we use our knowledge of the integers to define and study the abstract algebraic structures known as rings.
Metric spaces I
In this book motivated by our understanding of how distance works for points in the plane, we define metrics, which can be used to give us an idea of distance between arbitrary objects (such as words or fractals). This allows to generalise the notion of what it means for a function to be continuous.
Rings and Fields
In this book we return to our study of algebra. We start by looking at polynomial rings and then continue our investigation of abstract algebraic structures. This unexpectedly leads to the resolution of some famous problems of antiquity such as ‘squaring the circle’ or ‘trisecting the angle’. The final chapter shows how algebraic ideas underlie the modern theory of cryptography.
Metric Spaces II
In this book we return to metric spaces. We look at the implications of our new definition of distance for understanding what it means for something to be connected. This book culminates in an introduction to the theory of fractals.
There is a non-assessed reader on the module website that provides an overview of the historical development of topological and metric spaces, and modern algebra. Where appropriate the reader includes information and/or links about modern applications and unsolved/recently solved problems.
This module may help you to gain membership of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA). For further information, see the IMA website.
This is an OU level 3 module. OU level 3 modules build on study skills and subject knowledge acquired from studies at OU levels 1 and 2. They are intended only for students who have recent experience of higher education in a related subject, preferably with the OU.
This module is designed to follow on from Pure mathematics (M208). Here's what a student that started in October 2016 had to say:
If you enjoyed M208 pure mathematics, then I recommend you study M303. There are basically four topics of number theory, group theory, ring and field theory and metric spaces. There is also a little bit of applied mathematics to cryptography and ruler and compass constructions which is not examinable. The workload is what should be expected for a 60 credit level 3 module but the abstract nature of the subject matter can make it seem more at times. All the tutors and the module team provide outstanding support and for enthusiasts like myself there is extra-curricular material and some history of mathematics. I studied the third presentation of the module and I anticipate it will become even better as it matures.
To pass this module, you will need:
- to spend an average of at least 16–18 hours per week engaging with the module material
- some familiarity with the following pure mathematics topics: group theory; linear algebra and real analysis.
If you have any doubts about your mathematical knowledge and experience, our diagnostic quiz will help determine whether you are ready for this module.
If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.
There is no specific preparatory work required for this module but it may be helpful for you to revise group theory and continuity of real functions before the module begins.
Six printed module books and a handbook (which can be taken into the examination). Informal online recorded lectures given by the module team. A study planner, history reader, module forums, assessment materials, practice quizzes and optional supplementary information available via the module website.
You will need
A calculator would be useful for the number theory-related parts of the module, though it is not essential. A simple four-function (+ – x ÷) model would suffice.
A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.
Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.
A desktop or laptop computer with either:
- Windows 7 or higher
- macOS 10.7 or higher
The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.
To participate in our online discussion area you will need both a microphone and speakers/headphones.
Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.