This certificate of higher education has one stage, comprising 120 credits.
- You’ll normally start Stage 1 with a 30-credit introductory module followed by three further 30-credit modules in pure and applied mathematics and statistics.
Optional Access module – visit Entry requirements to find out about starting this course with a preparatory Access module.
Mathematics is a linear subject – it’s important to have a good understanding of the basics before moving on to more advanced topics. You’ll normally begin with an introduction to key mathematical ideas, ideal if you haven’t studied mathematics to an advanced level; or haven’t studied for some time and need to refresh your skills and knowledge.
If you’re confident studying mathematics at university level and, in particular, have a good understanding of algebra and trigonometry, you can skip the first module and choose from a selection of other modules to complete Stage 1.
To facilitate transferring between qualifications, Stage 1 is common to the BSc (Honours) Mathematics, BSc (Honours) Mathematics and Statistics, BSc (Honours) Mathematics and its Learning, Diploma of Higher Education in Mathematical Sciences and Certificate of Higher Education in Mathematical Sciences.
We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 20 March 2019.
We make all our qualifications as accessible as possible and have a comprehensive range of services to support all our students. The Certificate of Higher Education in Mathematical Sciences uses a variety of study materials and has the following elements:
- using mathematical and scientific expressions, notations and associated techniques
- using and producing diagrams and/or screenshots
- studying a mixture of printed and online material – online learning resources may include websites, audio/video media clips, and interactive activities such as online quizzes
- in some modules undertaking small amounts of practical work
- using specialist mathematical or statistical software.
For more detailed information, see the Accessibility Statements on individual module descriptions. If you feel you may need additional support, visit Disability support to find more about what we offer. Contact us as soon as possible to discuss your individual requirements, so we can put arrangements in place before you start.
Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment
This qualification develops your learning in four main areas:
- Knowledge and understanding
- Cognitive skills
- Practical and professional skills
- Key skills
The level and depth of your learning gradually increases as you work through the qualification. You’ll be supported throughout by the OU’s unique style of teaching and assessment – which includes a personal tutor to guide and comment on your work; top quality course texts; e-learning resources like podcasts, interactive media and online materials; tutorial groups and community forums.
Read the detailed learning outcomes here
If you have already studied at university level, you may be able to count it towards your Open University qualification – which could save you time and money by reducing the number of modules you need to study. At the OU we call this credit transfer.
It’s not just university study that can be considered, you can also transfer study from a wide range of professional or vocational qualifications such as HNCs and HNDs.
You should apply for credit transfer before you register, at least 4 weeks before the registration closing date. We will need to know what you studied, where and when and you will need to provide evidence of your previous study.
For more details of when you will need to apply by and to download an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.
On completion of this undergraduate course, we'll award you the Certificate of Higher Education in Mathematical Sciences.
As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the qualification-specific regulations below and the academic regulations that are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.
There are no formal entry requirements to study this qualification, but it’s very important you’re well prepared to study mathematics at this level. You must be comfortable 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.
Check you’re ready with our self-assessed quiz. We’ve study resources to help you prepare.
If you score very highly on that self-assessed quiz, consider starting at a higher level and at a faster pace – check you’ve the necessary experience and confidence for the intensive start, with this self-assessed quiz.
There’s lots more advice and guidance at our MathsChoices website.
How much time do I need?
- Most of our students study part time, completing normally 60 credits a year.
- This will usually mean studying for 16–18 hours a week.
Find out if you have enough time to study with our time planner
Preparing for study with an Access module
If your study skills are a bit rusty or you want to try out Open University study before committing yourself, don’t worry! The OU offers Access modules designed to introduce the subject area, build your confidence and prepare you for further study, and you may be eligible to study an Access module for free! You'll get:
- a personal tutor providing regular feedback with one to one telephone tutorials
- support from a dedicated team throughout your study
- detailed written feedback.
For this qualification we recommend:
Science, technology and maths Access module
What you will study
This multidisciplinary module is an ideal starting point if you have little or no previous knowledge of the sciences, technology and mathematics, and would like to develop both your subject knowledge and your study skills. The subjects included are science, engineering and design, environment, mathematics, and computing and IT.
View full details of Science, technology and maths Access module
Skills for career development
This certificate course provides skills and knowledge required for jobs in a wide range of fields. It will particularly enhance the following transferable and highly valued skills:
- communicating mathematical ideas clearly and succinctly
- explaining mathematical ideas to others
- understanding complex mathematical texts
- working with abstract concepts
- thinking logically
- expressing problems in mathematical language
- constructing logical arguments
- finding solutions to problems
- interpreting mathematical results in real-world terms
- using relevant professional software.
Career areas directly related to mathematics include:
- market research
- quantitative analysis/risk analysis
Mathematical knowledge is much sought after by a wide variety of employers in fields such as education, engineering, business, finance, and accountancy. A qualification in mathematics also offers opportunities for self-employment – as a financial adviser, for example.
In addition to improving your career prospects, studying with the OU is an enriching experience that broadens your horizons, develops your knowledge, builds your confidence and enhances your life skills.
Exploring your options
Once you register with us (and for up to three years after you finish your studies), you’ll have full access to our careers service for a wide range of information and advice – including online forums, website, interview simulation, vacancy service as well as the option to email or speak to a careers adviser. Some areas of the careers service website are available for you to see now, including help with looking for and applying for jobs. You can also read more general information about how OU study enhances your career.
In the meantime if you want to do some research around this qualification and where it might take you, we’ve put together a list of relevant job titles as a starting point (note that some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience):
- aeronautical engineer
- chartered accountant
- data scientist
- financial risk analyst
- investment analyst
- management consultant
- operational researcher
- pensions administrator
- secondary school teacher
- systems developer.