Essential mathematics 1 (MST124)
In this section you’ll find further information about MST124, together with a taster pack. By browsing through this material you should get a feel for the level of the module, its general style and approach, some of the topics covered and the time you are likely to need to allow for studying.
MST124 provides a broad introduction to the nature of mathematics and its uses in the modern world. It shows how mathematics can be used to investigate and answer relevant questions from physics, engineering, economics and everyday life. Essential mathematics 1 (MST124) assumes good skills in algebra, trigonometry and geometry, and familiarity with the main functions on a scientific calculator, such as the sine and exponential functions.
Providing you have the appropriate background knowledge, you should expect to spend about 10 hours per week overall studying MST124. It includes the use of mathematical computer software. There are four tutor-marked assignments, a number of short interactive computer-based assignments, and an examination, all of which count towards your final MST124 result. The module is presented twice in each year, and lasts about eight months.
As well as giving you 30 credits at Level 1 successful completion of MST124 offers the following benefits.

  • Experience of a range of mathematical topics employed in many areas of such as computing, economics, engineering, physics and science. This includes:
  • applying algebra, number systems and functions to solve problems;
  • expressing mathematical ideas, arguments and procedures clearly;
  • using vectors and matrices to investigate mathematical structures;
  • using calculus to solve a range of problems;
  • Experience of using powerful mathematical software.
During your study of MST124 you will cover the following topics
Unit 1
You’ll revise and extend your basic skills in working with integers, rational numbers and real numbers, and in manipulating algebraic expressions, equations, powers and surds.
Unit 2
Graphs and equations
You’ll revise and extend your basic skills in working with straight-line and parabolic graphs and their equations, and in solving simultaneous equations and quadratic equations. You’ll also be introduced to Maxima, a computer algebra system, which you’ll continue to use in later units.
Unit 3
You’ll learn about functions, which are used to represent situations where one quantity depends on another. For example, the distance travelled by a car depends on the time that it has been travelling. You’ll also revise and extend your skills in working with exponential functions, logarithms and inequalities.
Unit 4
You’ll revise the relationships between the angles and side lengths of triangles, and the definitions of the trigonometric functions sine, cosine and tangent for angles of any size. You’ll also meet many useful trigonometric identities.
Unit 5
Coordinate geometry and vectors
You’ll learn how to use an algebraic approach to solve problems involving geometric objects such as lines and circles. You’ll also study vectors, which are quantities that have both a size and a direction, such as speed in a particular direction.
Unit 6
Units 6, 7 and 8 introduce you to calculus, one of the most important and widely applicable topics in mathematics. In Unit 6 you’ll begin to study differential calculus.  You’ll learn how to work with the gradients of curved graphs, and how to use a formula for the distance that an object has travelled in terms of time to deduce a formula for its speed.
Unit 7
Differentiation methods and integration
You’ll learn more about differential calculus, including how to use it to find the maximum or minimum value of a changing quantity. You’ll then start to study integral calculus. For example, you’ll learn how to use a formula for the speed of an object in terms of time to deduce a formula for the distance that it has travelled.
Unit 8
Integration methods
You’ll learn more about integral calculus, including how to use it to find the areas of some shapes with curved boundaries.
Unit 9
You’ll study matrices, which are rectangular arrays of numbers that can be manipulated mathematically. Matrices are used extensively in mathematics and its applications.
Unit 10
Sequences and series
You’ll learn how to work with some commonly-occurring types of number sequences, such as those in which each number is obtained by multiplying the previous number by a constant.
Unit 11
Taylor polynomials
You’ll discover how many functions can be approximated by polynomial functions, which are easier to work with.
Unit 12
Complex numbers
You’ll learn about complex numbers, which include all the usual numbers, and also many ‘imaginary’ numbers, such as the square root of minus one. These numbers have many uses in applied mathematics, as well as being the basis of some fascinating pure mathematics.