This key introductory OU level 1 module provides a gentle start to the study of mathematics. It will help you to integrate mathematical ideas into your everyday thinking and build your confidence in using and learning mathematics. You’ll cover statistical, graphical, algebraic, trigonometric and numerical concepts and techniques, and be introduced to mathematical modelling. Formal calculus is not included and you are not expected to have any previous knowledge of algebra. The skills introduced are required for successful study in many subject areas, such as in computing, economics, science, technology, social science, humanities, business and education. And they’re needed if you plan to study further mathematics modules, such as Essential mathematics 1 (MST124).
What you will study
In order to study this module successfully you should expect to be actively doing mathematics, rather than just reading it. You will also be encouraged to develop skills in interpreting and explaining mathematics, and this aspect will be assessed in some of the assignment questions.
Providing you have the appropriate background knowledge, you should expect to study for about eight hours a week. Many of the topics covered in the module depend on your understanding of topics in earlier units. So, if you have not fully understood earlier material, you may find later material more difficult and time consuming. This is particularly true of graphs, formulas and algebra. Naturally, the study time required for the module tends to increase before an assignment deadline.
You can find the full content list on the Open mathematics and statistics website.
You will learn
Successful study of this module should begin to develop your skills in working with mathematical concepts and using them to solve problems.
You will learn about:
- key ideas in mathematics, including some statistics, algebra, geometry and trigonometry
- mathematical vocabulary and notation introduced and developed in the module
- selection and use of mathematical techniques for solving problems
- interpretation of results in the context of real life situations
- simple mathematical arguments
- how to explain mathematical ideas from the module in writing
- development of skills in learning mathematics
- use of relevant ICT tools for learning and for working on mathematical problems
- describing problems mathematically
- analysing mathematical reasoning.
The module contains many real world contexts such as journey planning, glaciers, supply and demand, depreciation, poverty levels, chance events, and medical conditions (such as cancer), to help illustrate mathematical topics.
This module is sometimes accepted as an acceptable equivalent qualification to GCSE grade C in mathematics by teacher training institutions, but always at the discretion of each institution. So, if you hope to use it for this purpose, you are advised to check as early as possible with your chosen teacher training institution(s).
There is no formal pre-requisite study.
You can check you’re ready for MU123 and see the topics it covers here.
You can find out which module is your best starting point in mathematics 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.
You’ll have access to a module website, which includes:
- a week-by-week study planner
- course-specific module materials
- audio and video content
- relevant computer software and associate guidance
- 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 Module Guide and Handbook.
You will need
A scientific calculator. We recommend any Casio scientific calculator with ’natural display’, as these enable you to key in calculations in the same order as they usually appear in written text, and have a two-line display so that you can see both your calculation and the answer. Some instructions for using the Casio fx-83ES, and compatible models, are provided in the study materials. Any other scientific calculator is also acceptable provided that you know how to use it before the module starts, and you have access to the appropriate calculator manual (these are often available to download from the manufacturer’s website). Please note that you do not need to have a graphics or programmable calculator to study this module.
(If you have studied Science, technology and maths Access module (Y033), you can use the calculator from that module providing you have access to the manual.)
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.