You are viewing information for England.  Change country.
Calculations on whiteboard

MSc in Mathematics

The MSc in Mathematics course is designed for students who want to continue their mathematics studies by delving more deeply into particular aspects of pure and applied mathematics. The modules may be of interest to mathematically inclined scientists and engineers as well as to mathematicians.

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
See Fees and funding
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

Request your prospectus

Explore our subjects and courses.

Request your copy today

Course details

Suggested routes to the degree

You can take a number of different routes towards your qualification. The routes illustrated below are routes many students are using, or have already successfully followed.

Please bear in mind that other routes are available – see the full module list for all options.


For this 180-credit masters degree you require:

150 credits from the following optional modules:

Postgraduate optional modules Credits Next start
Advanced mathematical methods (M833)

Learn advanced mathematical methods with the aid of algebraic computing language Maple, and explore various forms of approximation on this MSc in Mathematics module.

See full description

30 03 Oct 2015
Analytic number theory I (M823)

This module introduces number theory – which is still undergoing intensive development – using techniques from analysis, particularly the convergence of series and the calculus of residues.

See full description

30 03 Oct 2015
Analytic number theory II (M829)

This module teaches number theory using techniques from analysis, and in particular the convergence of series and the calculus of residues.

See full description

30 No current presentation
Applied complex variables (M828)

Complex variable theory pervades many subjects, and this module teaches topics that are useful in the theoretical sciences and of interest in their own right.

See full description

30 03 Oct 2015
Approximation theory (M832)

Develop your understanding of the mathematical theory behind many approximation methods in common use. The module is based on M.J.D. Powell’s Approximation Theory and Methods.

See full description

30 No current presentation
Calculus of variations and advanced calculus (M820)

This module, which develops the theory of the calculus of variations and other related topics, is the starting point for our MSC in Mathematics.

See full description

30 03 Oct 2015
Coding theory (M836)

Explore the theory of error-detecting and error-correcting codes, investigate the bounds of these codes, and discover how they can be used in real situations.

See full description

30 No current presentation
Fractal geometry (M835)

This module examines the theory of fractals – whose geometry cannot easily be described in classical terms – and studies examples to which it can be applied.

See full description

30 03 Oct 2015
Nonlinear ordinary differential equations (M821)

Relevant to scientists, engineers and mathematicians, this introduction to basic theory and simpler approximation schemes covers systems with two degrees of freedom.

See full description

30 03 Oct 2015

Or, subject to the rules about excluded combinations, the discontinued modules M431, M822, M824, M826, M827, M830, M841, M860, M861

And 30 credits from the following compulsory module:

Postgraduate compulsory module Credits Next start
Dissertation in mathematics (M840)

Undertake independent study of the history of modern geometry or advances in approximation theory, culminating in a dissertation on a topic of your choice.

See full description

30 03 Oct 2015

The modules quoted in this description are currently available for study. However, as we review the curriculum on a regular basis, the exact selection may change over time.

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, and how they are acquired through teaching, learning and assessment methods.

Credit transfer

For this qualification, we do not allow you to count credit for study you have already done elsewhere.

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 following regulations:

These regulations are also available on our Essential Documents 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 this MSc in Mathematics course by completing our diagnostic quiz.

If you are new to postgraduate study in mathematics you are advised to 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).

The modules in this qualification are categorised as entry, intermediate, advanced and dissertation, as follows:

Entry: Calculus of variations and advanced calculus (M820), Analytic number theory I (M823)

Intermediate: Applied complex variables (M828), Approximation theory (M832), Nonlinear ordinary differential equations (M821), Analytic number theory II (M829), Coding theory (M836), Fractal geometry (M835)

Advanced: Advanced mathematical methods (M833)

Dissertation: Dissertation in mathematics (M840).

Guidance about the order in which the modules should be studied is as follows:

  • You must normally pass at least one of the entry modules, Calculus of variations and advanced calculus (M820) or Analytic number theory I (M823), before studying any intermediate module.
  • You must normally pass at least one of the intermediate modules before studying the advanced module.
  • You must pass Analytic number theory I (M823) before studying Analytic number theory II (M829).
  • You must normally pass four modules before studying the Dissertation in mathematics (M840).
  • Some topics for the dissertation have prerequisite modules.

Otherwise within each category modules may be studied in any order, and you may register for a module while studying a pre-requisite for that module (i.e. before you know whether you have passed the pre-requisite module or not).

Further information about how the modules relate to each other is given in the description for each individual module.

All modules are worth 30 credits, and you are advised not to study more than 60 credits worth at a time. Not every module is presented each year, and we cannot guarantee that the same selection of modules will continue to be available.

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.

Career relevance

Mathematics is at the heart of advances in science, engineering and technology, as well as being an indispensable problem-solving and decision-making tool in many other areas of life. It is no surprise therefore that 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.

There is more information about how OU study can improve your employability in the OU’s Employability Statement from our Careers Advisory Service. You can also read or download our publication OU study and your career and look at our subject pages to find out about career opportunities.