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MSc in Mathematics

This MSc enables you to delve deeply into particular aspects of pure and applied mathematics through a wide choice of modules in areas such as fractal geometry, coding theory and calculus of variations. The choice of modules is sufficient to be of interest to not only mathematicians, but also mathematically inclined scientists or engineers looking to advance their career by gaining a high-level qualification. You’ll complete your MSc with a piece of independent study, exploring a mathematical topic in detail, and conclude this with a dissertation.

Key features of the course

  • Ideal for mathematically inclined scientists and engineers as well as mathematicians.
  • Extends your knowledge and refines your abilities to process information accurately, and critically analyse and communicate complex ideas.
  • Develops an enhanced skill set giving you an advantage in careers beyond mathematics, such as education, computer science, engineering, economics and finance.
  • The UK's most popular MSc in Mathematics.

Masters degree

Course code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
How long it takes
Minimum - 2 years
Read more about how long it takes
Study method
Distance learning
Find out more in Why the OU?
Course cost
Postgraduate loan available
See Fees and funding
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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Course details


To gain this qualification, you need 180 credits as follows:

30–60 credits from:
Entry-level modules Credits Next start
Calculus of variations and advanced calculus (M820)

M820 Calculus of Variations and Advanced Calculus covers functionals, Gâteaux differential, Euler–Lagrange equation, First-integral, Noether’s Theorem, Second variation/Jacobi equation and Sturm–Liouville systems.

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30 No current presentation
Analytic number theory I (M823)

This entry-level pure mathematics module introduces several concepts from number theory, and culminates in a proof of Dirichlet's theorem on prime numbers in arithmetic progressions.

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30 No current presentation

90–1501 credits from:

Intermediate-level modules Credits Next start
Advanced mathematical methods (M833)

Advanced mathematical methods using the algebraic computing language Maple. Perturbation expansions, accelerated convergence, Padé approximations, asymptotic expansions, eigenvalue problems, Green’s functions.

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30 No current presentation
Analytic number theory II (M829) 2

Sequel to M823, based on the second half of Apostol’s Introduction to Analytic Number Theory. Includes a proof of the prime number theorem.

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30 No current presentation
Approximation theory (M832)

This module, based on M.J.D. Powell’s ‘Approximation Theory and Methods’, will develop your understanding of the mathematics behind many methods of approximating functions and data.

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30 No current presentation
Coding theory (M836)

This module examines error-detecting and error-correcting codes built on algebraic structures, with associated encoding/decoding procedures and applicability, concluding with elements of cryptography.

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30 No current presentation
Fractal geometry (M835)

This module deals with the geometry of fractals, sets that are often very beautiful and contain copies of themselves at many different scales.

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30 No current presentation
Galois theory (M838) NEW

This postgraduate mathematics module explores the relationship between groups and fields as described by Galois in the 19th century.

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30 No current presentation
Nonlinear ordinary differential equations (M821)

The theory of nonlinear ordinary differential equations is introduced with emphasis on geometrical aspects, approximation schemes and the determination of stability and periodicity of solutions.

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30 No current presentation
Or, subject to the rules about excluded combinations, the discontinued modules M431, M822, M824, M826, M827, M830, M841, M860, M861, MZX861, PMT600 and PMT601.
1Only under exceptional circumstances may you study 150 credits at intermediate level, i.e. without first studying an entry-level module.
2If you choose Analytic number theory II (M829), you must take Analytic number theory I (M823) first.

30 credits from:

Module Credits Next start
Dissertation in mathematics (M840)

Dissertation in Mathematics is part of the MSc in mathematics. Students undergo a guided, independent study of a one of a range of mathematical topics.

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30 No current presentation

You should note that the University’s unique study rule applies to this qualification. This means that you must include at least 60 credits from OU modules that have not been counted in any other OU qualification that has previously been awarded to you.

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 17 March 2020.

Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment

The learning outcomes of this qualification are described in four areas:

  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Cognitive skills
  • Practical and professional skills
  • Key skills
Read more detailed information about the learning outcomes.

On completion

On successful completion of the required modules you can be awarded an MSc in Mathematics and entitling you to use the letters MSc (Maths) (Open) after your name. You will have the opportunity of being presented at a degree ceremony.


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. 

Entry requirements

You should normally have a minimum of a 2:2 honours degree in mathematics or a 2:1 honours degree in a subject with a high mathematical content. Whatever your background, you should assess your suitability for our MSc by completing our diagnostic quiz.

If you’re new to postgraduate study in mathematics, start with a single module: either the applied mathematics module The calculus of variations and advanced calculus (M820) or the pure mathematics module Analytic number theory I (M823).

How long it takes

Most students study this qualification in six years at the rate of one module per year. The minimum time to complete is two years. There is no maximum time limit for completing this qualification but we cannot guarantee that the same selection of modules will continue to be available. Not every module is presented each year.

Career relevance

Mathematics postgraduates can be found throughout industry, business and commerce, in the public and private sectors. Employers value the intellectual rigour and reasoning skills that mathematics students can acquire, their familiarity with numerical and symbolic thinking and the analytic approach to problem-solving which is their hallmark.

There are a variety of reasons for studying mathematics at postgraduate level. You may want a postgraduate qualification in order to distinguish yourself from an increasingly large graduate population. You may find that your undergraduate mathematical knowledge is becoming insufficient for your career requirements, especially if you are hoping to specialise in one of the more mathematical areas, which are becoming more sought after by employers. Or you may want to move on to a PhD in Mathematics. The extent of opportunities is vast and mathematics postgraduates are equipped with skills and knowledge required for jobs in fields such as finance, education, engineering, science and business, as well as mathematics and mathematical science research.

Careers and Employability Services have more information on how OU study can improve your employability.