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Postgraduate Certificate in Mathematics

The Postgraduate Certificate in Mathematics is awarded on successful completion of 60 credits of postgraduate mathematics study. The certificate course is a valuable qualification in itself or it can be the first qualification in a programme of mathematics study leading to a postgraduate diploma or an MSc. The modules offered may well be of interest to mathematically inclined scientists and engineers, as well as to mathematicians.

Study Mode

Online Education, Distance Learning & External study modes available

Career relevance and employability

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. It is no surprise therefore that 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, particularly if you are a professional programmer or work in finance, 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. 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.

There is more information about how OU study can improve your employability in the OU's Employability Statement from our Careers Advisory Service. You can also read or download our publication OU study and your career and look at our subject pages to find out about career opportunities.


For this postgraduate certificate you require:

60 credits from the following optional modules:

Postgraduate optional 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 course.

See full description.

Analytic number theory I (M823)

This course introduces number theory - which is still undergoing intensive development - using techniques from analysis, particularly the convergence of series and the calculus of residues.

See full description.

30 Feb FINAL
Analytic number theory II (M829)

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

See full description.

30 Feb FINAL
Applied complex variables (M828)

Complex variable theory pervades many subjects, and this course teaches topics that are useful in the theoretical sciences and of interest in their own right.

See full description.

30 Feb
Approximation theory (M832)

Develop your understanding of the mathematical theory behind many approximation methods in common use. The course is based on M.J.D. Powell's Approximation Theory and Methods.

See full description.

30 Feb FINAL
Calculus of variations and advanced calculus (M820)

This course, 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 Feb
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.

See full description.

30 Feb
Fractal geometry (M835)

This course examines the theory of fractals - whose geometry cannot easily be described in classical terms - and studies examples to which it can be applied.

See full description.

Functional analysis (M826)

This course, based on Elements of Functional Analysis by I.J. Maddox, examines sets of functions, and looks at mapping from one set to others.

See full description.

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.

See full description.

30 Feb

Or, subject to the rules about excluded combinations, the discontinued modules M431, M822, M824, M827, M830 and M841

Educational aims

This qualification will:

  • provide you with the opportunity to build on the knowledge and skills that you acquired through your successful study at undergraduate level
  • provide you with the opportunity to gain support and guidance as a postgraduate learner
  • enable you to study Mathematics at taught postgraduate level required by the National Framework for Postgraduate Certificates.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

On completion of the Certificate you should be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the following:

  • To know and understand advanced concepts, principles and techniques from a limited number of topic areas.
  • To know and understand the advanced concepts and apply the mathematical methods learnt.
  • To understand a range of advanced mathematical concepts and techniques, and how to apply them.

Cognitive skills

  • Understand how to solve a range of problems using the methods taught.
  • Assimilate complex mathematical ideas and arguments.
  • Develop abstract mathematical thinking and physical intuition, where appropriate.

Practical and/or professional skills

There are no specific or professional skills.

Key skills

  • Develop the ability to advance own knowledge and understanding through independent learning.
  • Communicate clearly knowledge, ideas and conclusions about mathematics.
  • Develop problem-solving skills and apply them independently to problems in one or two areas of pure and or applied mathematics.
  • Communicate effectively in writing about the subject (using precise notations and coherent arguments of a variety of kinds).
  • Improve own learning and performance (e.g. ability to organise study time, to study independently, exploit feedback and meet deadlines).

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