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Discovering mathematics

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 will be needed if you plan to study more mathematics modules, such as Essential mathematics 1 (MST124), and are also required in other areas, such as computing, economics, science, technology, social science, humanities, business and education.

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Module

Module code
MU123
Credits

Credits

  • 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.
30
Study level
To enable you to make international comparisons, the information provided shows how OU levels correspond to the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ).
OU FHEQ
1 4
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
See Entry requirements

Student Reviews

This module was well paced and I feel it was not overly daunting to subjects that I had no previous...
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Nice re-introduction to mathematics after a break of 20 years. It starts really easy. Books C and D were slightly...
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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.

Samples of the study materials, including example assessment questions, are available from our MathsChoices website.

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.

Read the full content list here.

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.

Professional recognition

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). 

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Throughout your module studies, you’ll get help and support from your assigned module tutor. They’ll help you by:

  • Marking your assignments (TMAs) and providing detailed feedback for you to improve.
  • Guiding you to additional learning resources.
  • Providing individual guidance, whether that’s for general study skills or specific module content.
  • Facilitating online discussions between your fellow students, in the dedicated module and tutor group forums.

Module tutors also run online tutorials throughout the module. Where possible, recordings of online tutorials will be made available to students. While these tutorials won’t be compulsory for you to complete the module, you’re strongly encouraged to take part. If you want to participate, you’ll likely need a headset with a microphone.

Assessment

The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You can choose whether to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) on paper or online through the eTMA system. You may want to use the eTMA system for some of your assignments but submit on paper for others. You may also submit the end-of-module assessment (EMA) online or on paper. This is entirely your choice.

The first interactive computer-marked assignment (iCMA), covering Unit 1, is to be submitted about two weeks after the start of the module. The first TMA is to be submitted about a month after the start.

TMA questions typically involve calculating, creating and/or interpreting a graph or diagram, using algebra, and explaining your work and conclusions. The latter is one factor that makes this a university-level module and it is a new approach for some students, who may find it challenging initially. Some TMAs may also include a short question covering a wider aspect of studying maths. 

As there is no examination, the end-of-module assessment (EMA) aims to consolidate your learning across different aspects of the module. It covers the whole of the module, and is compulsory if you wish to pass the module.

Future availability

Discovering mathematics (MU123) starts twice a year – in February and October.

This page describes the module that will start in February 2021.

We expect it to start for the last time in February 2026.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

    Course work includes:

    4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
    5 Interactive computer-marked assignments (iCMAs)
    End-of-module assessment
    No residential school


    Entry requirements

    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.

    Preparatory work

    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.

    Register

    Start End England fee Register
    30 Jan 2021 Sep 2021 £1548.00

    Registration closes 14/01/21 (places subject to availability)

    Register
    This module is expected to start for the last time in February 2026.

    Additional Costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as set books, a computer and internet access.

    If your income is not more than £25,000 or you are in receipt of a qualifying benefit, you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after your module has started.

    Ways to pay for this module

    Open University Student Budget Account

    The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments.

    You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

    • Register now, pay later – OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
    • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your monthly fee and number of instalments based on the cost of the module you are studying. APR 5.1% representative.

    Joint loan applications

    If you feel you would be unable to obtain an OUSBA loan on your own due to credit history or affordability issues, OUSBA offers the option to apply for a joint loan application with a third party. For example, your husband, wife, partner, parent, sibling or friend. In such cases, OUSBA will be required to carry out additional affordability checks separately and/or collectively for both joint applicants who will be jointly and severally liable for loan repayments.

    As additional affordability checks are required when processing joint loan applications, unfortunately, an instant decision cannot be given. On average the processing time for a joint loan application is five working days from receipt of the required documentation.

    Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).  

    Employer sponsorship

    Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU courses are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to complete. They also value the skills that students learn and can apply in the workplace.

    More than one in ten OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the module you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could approach your employer to see if they will sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. 

    • Your employer just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.
    • You won’t need to get your employer to complete the form until after you’ve chosen your module.  

    Credit/debit card

    You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. 

    We accept American Express, Mastercard, Visa and Visa Electron. 

    Mixed payments

    We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. For example, you may wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Account (OUSBA).


    Please note: your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and therefore the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fees and funding information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2021. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees. 

    This information was provided on 29/11/2020.

    What's included

    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.)

    Computing requirements

    A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

    Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

    A desktop or laptop computer with either an up-to-date version of Windows or macOS.

    The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).

    Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.

    If you have a disability

    The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying MU123 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

    To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our Disability support website.