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MSc in Mathematics

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. This MSc course enables you to delve deeply into particular aspects of pure and applied mathematics, through a wide choice of modules in fascinating areas such as fractal geometry, coding theory and analytic theory. You’ll complete your MSc with a piece of independent study, exploring one of a range of mathematical topics in detail and concluding this study by writing 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 that will put you at an advantage in careers as diverse as mathematics, education, computer science, economics, engineering and finance
  • The most popular MSc in mathematics in the UK.

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
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 credits from one of the following entry-level modules. You should start with either or both entry-level modules. If you’re thinking of studying both an entry-level and an intermediate-level module in your first year, contact us for advice.
Entry-level modules Credits Next start
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 05 Oct 2019
Analytic number theory I (M823)

This entry-level pure mathematics module introduces a variety of concepts from number theory, and culminates in a proof of Dirichlet's theorem on prime numbers in arithmetic progressions.

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30 05 Oct 2019


120 credits from the following intermediate-level modules (you may include 30 credits from the other entry-level module above). Most intermediate-level modules start once every two years – in October.
Intermediate-level 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.

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30 05 Oct 2019
Analytic number theory II (M829) 1

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

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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.

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30 05 Oct 2019
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.

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30 No current presentation
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.

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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.

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30 05 Oct 2019
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.

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30 05 Oct 2019
Or, subject to the rules about excluded combinations, the discontinued modules M431, M822, M824, M826, M827, M830 and M841.

1If you choose Analytic number theory II, you must take Analytic number theory I first.


30 credits from the following dissertation module. You must pass four modules before you can start the dissertation module.
Dissertation module Credits Next start
Dissertation in mathematics (M840)

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

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30 05 Oct 2019

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.

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 8th June 2018.

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 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.

Recognition in your country

If you intend to use your Open University qualifications to seek work or undertake further study outside the UK, we recommend checking whether your intended qualification will meet local requirements for your chosen career. Read recognition in my country.


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. 

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).

How long it takes

Most students study this qualification in six years at the rate of one module per year. The minimum time to complete is two years. There is no maximum time limit for completing this qualification but we cannot guarantee that the same selection of modules will continue to be available. Not every module is presented each year.

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.