Finishing MU123

I completed the first module from my maths degree with the Open University. Highlights were quadratic equations, trigonometry and exponential functions.

Alex Strick van Linschoten


May 14, 2023

I completed and submitted the final exam for the MU123 module that I’ve been studying since October last year. This module is the first step on my journey towards a BSc Mathematics degree from the Open University, something I’m really happy I have the time to do on the side of my full-time job.

Mathematics was always something I enjoyed studying at school, but for various reasons I stopped taking it as a subject by the time I was 15 or so. This means that I skipped many (most) important skills and subjects like linear algebra, calculus and more. (As an aside, looking back now I find it amazing that it was even possible for me to emerge from a supposedly fancy school with such a shoddy grasp — if at all — of basic techniques and concepts.)

Now I get the chance to fill in the missing pieces, pieces that feel increasingly fundamental the further I progress down the rabbit hole(s) of both software engineering and machine learning. The Q31 degree programme is very slow to start, mainly because the early modules take a good amount of time to address people like me who maybe never studied things previously at school. The loose mental model you hear thrown about is that the first set of modules should bring you to a solid A-Level standard, and from then on things get a bit more serious in terms of the topics covered.

This matches my experience so far with MU123. For those for whom mathematics doesn’t feel as distant a memory, there is a fast-track approach where you start a bit further down the tracks, but eventually the idea is that everyone meets up together later on.

I really enjoyed the topics covered in MU123. There was a good mix of variety as well as some depth, especially as we started to reach the later units. This module is often taken by students working towards other degrees (in the sciences, perhaps) so it is purposefully open and welcoming. It was clear that a lot of effort had been taken to make everything approachable and engaging, even if some of the ‘multimedia’ felt a bit old.

I wonder whether the more advanced Maths modules will dispense with the hand-holding and friendly tones of the excellent written materials issued for MU123. For now, though, I don’t have any new classes starting until October, when I’ll be taking a double module together. (Results from MU123 will be issued at some point, though I’m not sure exactly when.) I plan on doing some personal exploration in a couple of areas of mathematics as well as working on some machine learning projects. More on that here in the coming weeks!