This module is designed to teach you about a variety of mathematical methods which are used in modelling through their application to solving real world problems. These methods include differential equations, linear algebra and vector calculus. You will become familiar with new mathematical skills mainly by using pencil and paper and by thinking. This module will give you a good foundation for higher-level study and is essential preparation for most OU level 3 mathematics, statistics or physics modules. To study this module you should have a sound knowledge of algebra, calculus, and geometry as provided by the appropriate OU level 1 study.
What you will study
The mathematical methods covered by this module are the core analytic methods that are useful for modelling the real world. The analytical (as opposed to numerical) solution of first and second-order ordinary differential equations is discussed, followed by linear algebra (vectors, matrices and determinants). We develop the elements of the calculus of functions of several variables, including vector calculus, which is followed by an introduction to methods for solving partial differential equations.
These mathematical methods are illustrated by putting them in the context of real world applications (such as simple mechanical systems). You will be assessed only on your mathematical skills, not on your knowledge of the context used. The module teaches ‘pencil and paper’ mathematical skills: although it explains where numerical methods are important, there is no programming or special software required.
You will learn all the core mathematical methods that are needed for further studies in applied sciences. In further study you will begin to appreciate the power of the methods introduced here – they are applicable in a very wide variety of situations.
The module is delivered as printed material in four books. There are some optional supporting materials on the website.
You can find the full content list on the Open mathematics and statistics website.
This module may help you to gain membership of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA). For further information, see the IMA website.
You must have passed one of the following modules:
Or be able to provide evidence you have the required mathematical skills.
You can check you’re ready for MST224 and see the topics it covers here.
Talk to an advisor if you’re not sure you’re ready.
You should aim to be confident and fluent with the concepts covered in the Are you ready? quiz here, and follow the advice in the quiz.
The key topics to revise include:
Essential mathematics 1 (MST124) is ideal preparation, and Essential mathematics 2 (MST125) is also useful.
T194 is an alternative to MST124 for engineering students. However, we recommend you’ve also studied Core engineering A (T271) and Core engineering B (T272) to reinforce your skills in algebra, calculus and geometry.
You’ll have access to a module website, which includes:
- a week-by-week study planner
- course-specific module materials
- audio and video content
- assessment details, instructions and guidance
- online tutorial access
- access to student and tutor group forums.
You’ll be provided with printed books covering the content of the module, including explanations, examples and activities to aid your understanding of the concepts and associated skills and techniques. In addition, you will have a printed handbook.
You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11) or macOS (11 'Big Sur' or higher).
Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.
To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).
Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.
Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.
It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop, as described above.