maths study via The Open University

Only gone and done it

Done what, you say?
Done your TMA?
Made your tea?
Been caught dancing to a Madonna track?

Only gone and quit work.

Four weeks to go…. eeeek. What have I done?

Let me back up and explain….

Work has recently acquired new management. And things have changed.
And I’m not enjoying it. And neither are many of my colleagues.

Many have quit. Though they did find alternative employment first.

Not me. I stepped over the edge, not knowing how far up I was. And, consequently, how far there is to fall.

Now approaching free-fall, I have to say it’s not at all scary.

I always wanted to go to uni full-time but never got there – always landed decent jobs with some quick-tongued reasoning which bypassed the uni questions.

But now, I can. Sort of.

I am going to add SM358 – the quantum world – to M337, plus two, if not three, actuarial exams.

The equivalent of full-time study, met in the comfort of my own pad.

It’s only for a year. And I am seriously looking forward to it.

40-50 hours a week of study, at the times I want, where I want, and with whom I want.

I can spend days at relatives’ houses, at friends in London, Manchester, wherever really.

This isn’t justification for quitting my job, it’s just fact.

I didn’t consider the justifications – I just decided to walk off the edge.

The landing may be abrupt, or it might be lined with springy, spongy foam.

Right now, I don’t care – I owe myself that year of “full-time uni”. And I’m taking it.

Man against text book. Like a holiday. Only better.

Block B of complex analysis starts next week.
So does study for the actuarial CT1 and CT3 exams which I was going to sit last year, but ran out of free time.
I’ll also need to brush up on angular momentum, vector calculus, Fourier series etc for the quantum course, which has a February kick-off.


8 responses

  1. James Williams

    That’s what I’m doing except working 10 hours a week cleaning also. The maths in the quantum course is very easy and you certainly won’t need to revise any of those things, the course is more about understanding quantum mechanics and there is some matrix addition/scalar multiplication as well as some vector spaces but it is all very basic maths so you should be fine. Quantum is the most interesting course I ever did however I had the exam a day before electromagnetism so I doubt I got a first in either. Also avoid electromagnetism it is really not fun at all

    November 18, 2012 at 1:38 PM

  2. James Williams

    I don’t think Fourier series was in quantum at all

    November 18, 2012 at 1:40 PM

  3. Hey mate,
    Great to see you back here. 🙂
    I thought the quantum course was heavy on the techniques learned in MST209 – maybe not then. 🙂
    Was talking to a physics teacher the other day who was telling me of alternative views that could be taken regarding quantum stuff – but isn’t usually taught. He reckoned it was a straight-forward topic at the undergraduate level.
    Hope all is going ok for you – I’ll probably take a one day a week job at some point in the year – lots of call centres and warehouses around here.
    What courses are you doing now?

    November 18, 2012 at 6:56 PM

  4. Tiernan

    I think you’ve made a really sound decision there. You might remember I jumped ship about this time last year to do the 2nd level full time (MST209 / M208 / MSXR209) all in one go. I’ve never worked so hard, especially around the residential school (easily doing 60 hours a week then), though total immersion really helped in “joining the dots” between the subjects. Nervously awaiting now the results of my labours.

    I’m pushing on now until summer with the MST326 / M337 / M373 combo as well as a day a week attempting to apply some fluid mechanics on a little project with a biology prof. I used to work for. With 90 points remaining after that, exhaustion levels will determine what happens next !

    Best of luck with the year ahead. It’ll be fun!


    November 19, 2012 at 8:54 AM

    • James Williams

      MST326 (which looks boring but easy, easier than MST209) the textbooks are very colourless and dull which is a shame. Unlike quantum which has really awesome textbooks and is fun to learn. In Feb I’m starting 2 project courses sxp390 and sxp288 which will be my final modules 🙂 when are you hoping to graduate?

      November 19, 2012 at 12:57 PM

      • Good luck on graduating James – two project courses sounds like a lot of organisation will be needed.
        Interesting what you note about MST326 – it has quite the reputation for being tough.
        I’m hoping to have the maths degree signed off in June 2014, so about 18 or 19 months from now, as well as five actuarial modules, just leaving me four to complete the “CT” series of exams (at which point, I think you can call yourself a part-qualified actuary).
        Just have to juggle the cashflow a bit, but I am seriously looking forward to this.
        All the best mate.

        November 19, 2012 at 7:25 PM

    • Hi Tiernan,
      Yes, I remember you basically committing to giving up everything but maths study.
      Hats off for those 130 points all in one go – absolutely massive workload.

      Your 90 points this year sounds hectic, too – I have an old copy of the M373 Optimization notes here and have got stuck a couple of times reading through the first few books – seems like the sort of topic I’d need to be phoning a tutor for clarity on quite regularly.

      Really good to see some other students doing full time OU study – was speaking to a PhD student at a posh London uni on the weekend and he was saying one of his lecturers holds the OU notes in high regard for clarity and content, and is amazed that people can teach themselves the topics essentially from a book and the odd DVD.

      Good luck, might see you on the M337 forum but I don’t use them much to be fair.

      November 19, 2012 at 7:18 PM

    • Fred Ingram

      Hi Tiernan & oumaths
      I was searching for someone who had access to the MST373 Optimization and TMA booklets electronically as I would like to get a headstart on this during July and August, before the course starting next Sept. I saw on its webpage that someone had given unfavourable feedback, but a tutor has said materials had been re-jigged and improved. Still, I would like to use the summer holidays productively. Any chance you could email the booklet and TMA files to me at
      Currently I’m doing MST221 and MS208; last year did MST121 and MST209 and MSXR209. All the courses have been great fun! Next year I plan to do MST373 and S207.
      Thanks very much.

      January 7, 2013 at 5:50 PM

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