Discovering mathematics (MU123)
In this section you’ll find further information about MU123, 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.
MU123 introduces some fundamental mathematical ideas and will form a relevant part of many study profiles, including those in the sciences and in the humanities. It involves more reading and writing than you might anticipate on a mathematics module, so if you are not able to read a document such as this MathsChoices website reasonably fluently, then it may take you more time to study the module.
MU123 covers statistical, graphical, algebraic, trigonometric and numerical concepts and techniques, and introduces mathematical modelling. It assumes arithmetical, but not algebraic, skills. Discovering mathematics (MU123) is therefore less mathematically demanding than Essential mathematics 1 (MST124), but will help you to integrate mathematical ideas into your everyday thinking and build your confidence in using and learning mathematics. The development of skills in interpreting and explaining mathematics is an important aspect of the module.
Providing you have the appropriate background knowledge, you should expect to spend about 10 hours per week overall studying Discovering mathematics (MU123). There are five tutor-marked assignments and a number of short interactive computer-based assignments, all of which count towards your final MU123 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 MU123 offers the following benefits.

  • A sound and broad introduction to study at University level, together with the opportunity to improve your skills in mathematical communication and independent learning.
  • An appreciation of how mathematics pervades aspects of our everyday lives.
  • A good foundation in mathematical ideas, such as:
  • introductory statistics, algebra, geometry and trigonometry;
  • mathematical vocabulary and notation;
  • 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 opportunity to learn to use bespoke software to help investigate mathematical ideas.
  • An acceptable alternative qualification to GCSE grade C in maths, or equivalent elsewhere, normally required for entry to teacher training institutions in the UK, though this is at the discretion of the individual teacher training institution.
During your study of MU123 you will cover the following topics
Unit 1
Starting points
Introduction to the module.
Study strategies for mathematics.
Brief revision of some key numerical skills such as rounding, negative numbers and percentages.
Mathematical investigations.
Introduction to fractals.
Unit 2
Mathematical models
Introduction to mathematical modelling.
Route planning including speed, distance, time calculations.
Creating and using formulas.
Using number inequalities.
Unit 3
Introduction to the number system.
Multiples, factors and primes.
Powers and scientific notation.
Rational numbers and reciprocals.
Irrational numbers and surds.
Unit 4
Statistical summaries
Types of data.
Statistical investigations.
Averages and measures of spread.
Accuracy and precision.
Unit 5
Algebraic language.
Simplifying expressions.
Solving linear equations.
Unit 6
Interpreting graphs.
Gradient, intercept and equation of a straight-line graph.
Linear models from data.
Unit 7
Equations and inequalities
Changing the subject of an equation.
Solving equations in two unknowns.
Inequalities involving one variable.
Unit 8
Angles and Pythagoras’ theorem.
Geometrical proof.
Areas and perimeters.
Congruency and similarity.
Unit 9
Expanding algebra
Number patterns and proof.
Brackets and quadratic expressions.
Factorisation and quadratic equations.
Algebraic fractions and rearranging formulas.
Unit 10
Parabolas and their key features.
Completing the square and the quadratic formula.
Quadratic models.
Unit 11
Statistical pictures
Dot plots and boxplots.
Random numbers and variation.
Statistical investigations.
Unit 12
Trigonometric ratios and functions.
Solving triangles and equations.
Radians and circles.
Unit 13
Growth and decay.
The exponential function.
Exponential models.
Unit 14
Mathematics everywhere
Consolidation of the module, particularly in algebra, geometry and trigonometry.
Exploration of an interesting range of uses of mathematics.