## at what level *is* this course?

When trying to describe it to the maths teachers in my school I said, “it’s like a first year maths course for engineers and scientists with a dollop of pure maths thrown in”; which, I suppose, is about right. Although if you’re planning to get serious with physics etc. then I think that you’re going to have to do MST209 [Mathematical methods and models] as well.

There *is* a slight oddness about the course; the, aforesaid, maths teachers all commented on the fact that some parts of the exam paper [which I showed them] were incredibly easy, some parts were hard and some parts [second-order homogeneous equations] they hadn’t seen before. What we have here is a mathematical smorgasbord.

What you *should* know is that this course is designed to be studied alongside MST121, if you’re doing any kind of maths degree then you’d be daft not to do them together. I was [and am] daft.

## a good course?

Brilliant, excellent and all the other superlatives! My favourite OU course ever. It should be noted that I may be biased, much of my enjoyment was of a personal nature—I had a great tutor, a lovely bunch of tutor-group-mates and the forums were positively stuffed with wonderful people.

Disclaimer aside this is a fascinating course for anybody who is in any way maths inclined. However, it *is* an appetite-whetter rather than the whole goods—prepare yourself to shell out for more courses.

## what’s involved?

The course is split into four blocks:

- sequences, conics, geometric functions
- iteration, matrices, transformations
- differentiation, integration, Taylor polynomials
- complex numbers, number theory, group theory, proof and reasoning

For me block four was the best bit. Perhaps because that didn’t involve MathCad? [Which, as ever was the worst bit.] Not really, block four is an introduction to another kind of maths—if you like block four then M208 [Pure Mathematics] is your next port of call.

## exam

There can be no doubting this was an issue—time being the problem as always. I don’t suppose that anyone, given time, would find it too hard, but…we didn’t get time and everyone suffered. Other students practiced timed past-papers, I’m not sure that this helps; exams are different, you do strange things [I looked up the chain differentiation rule in my handbook!]. Prepare for the stuffing to be removed from you.

## worth doing?

An emphatic yes. However, for maths students, this is a taster for joys to come rather than a consummation. For scientists there may be an argument for skipping it and heading straight onto MST209 if you have confidence in your math’s skill-set. That said I don’t think that time spent doing this course is time wasted. In fact if you’re doing a degree in Philosophy or Italian do this course—it’s fun and it’ll make you a better person.

Here’s what others said about MS221…

And you’ll need to read Chris F’s blog.