Calculations on whiteboard

MSc in Mathematics

Advance your career with a high-level qualification. Delve deep into the aspects of pure and applied mathematics that interest you, choosing from areas such as fractal geometry, coding theory and calculus of variations. Choose from a wide range of modules. There are topics for not only mathematicians but mathematically inclined engineers and scientists. To conclude, you’ll complete an independent study, exploring a topic in detail and submitting 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
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.

See full description

30 07 Oct 2023
Analytic number theory I (M823)

This entry-level pure mathematics module introduces several concepts from number theory, including congruences, arithmetical functions and their averages, distributions of primes, quadratic reciprocity and Dirichlet’s theorem.

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30 07 Oct 2023

90–1501 credits from:

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

This module uses the Maple computing language to teach: perturbation expansions, accelerated convergence, Padé approximations, asymptotic expansions, eigenvalue problems, and Green’s functions.

See full description

30 07 Oct 2023
Analytic number theory II (M829) 2

This module covers the second half of Apostol’s Introduction to Analytic Number Theory and proof of the prime number theorem.

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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.

See full description

30 07 Oct 2023
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.

See full description

30 07 Oct 2023
Galois theory (M838)

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, M828, M830, M832, 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)

This dissertation module is the final part of the MSc in Mathematics; you’ll undergo a guided, independent study of a one of a range of mathematical topics.

See full description

30 07 Oct 2023

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.

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 successfully completing this course, we’ll award you our Master of Science in Mathematics. You’ll be entitled to use the letters MSc (Maths) (Open) after your name.

If your masters degree is awardable with a distinction or a merit, the qualification regulations explain how you can achieve these.

You’ll have the opportunity to attend 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. 

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 14 March 2023.

Entry requirements

You should normally have a minimum of either:

  • a 2:2 honours degree in mathematics or
  • a 2:1 honours degree in a subject with a high mathematical content.

If you don’t have such a qualification, your application will still be considered, but you may be asked to complete an entry test. Non-graduates will not normally be admitted.

Whatever your background, you should assess your suitability by completing our diagnostic quiz.

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

How long it takes

  • Most students complete this qualification in six years, at the rate of one module per year.
  • The minimum time you may complete this qualification in is two years.
  • There’s no time limit for completing this qualification, but we can’t guarantee the same selection of modules will continue to be available.
  • Some modules start only once every two years.

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.