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This flexible course will be of interest to mathematically inclined scientists and engineers as well as to mathematicians. It offers a wide choice of modules enabling you to tailor your studies to your particular area of interest, and is applicable to work in industry, business and commerce – as well as providing a firm foundation for additional study at masters and doctorate level.

Key features of the course
• Develops your problem-solving and decision-making capabilities
• A wide choice of modules enables you to tailor the course to your needs
• Helps you stand out in a crowded jobs market.

This certificate is the first stage of a study programme that progresses to a postgraduate diploma and finally a masters degree. You can step off at any point, or study the whole programme.

Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment
The learning outcomes of this qualification are described in four areas:
• Knowledge and understanding
• Cognitive skills
• Practical and professional skills
• Key skills

Entry requirements

You should normally have a minimum of a 2.2 honours degree in mathematics or a 2.1 honours degree in a subject with a high mathematical content. Whatever your background, you should assess your suitability for this certificate course by completing our diagnostic quiz.

If you are new to postgraduate study in mathematics you are advised to start with a single module; the applied mathematics module Calculus of variations and advanced calculus (M820) or the pure mathematics module Analytic number theory I (M823).


Minimum - 1 year.

Most students study this qualification in two years at the rate of one module per year. The minimum time to complete is one year. There is no maximum time limit for completing this qualification but we cannot guarantee that the same selection of modules will continue to be available. Not every module is presented each year.

Number of credits

60 credits

Careers or further progression

Career relevance
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 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. Or you may want to move on to a PhD in Mathematics. 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.

Careers and Employability Services have more information on how OU study can improve your employability.

Further enquiries

Tel: (01) 678 5399
Fax: (01) 678 5442

Subjects taught

To gain this qualification, you need 60 credits as follows:
30 credits from one of the following entry-level modules. You must start with an entry-level module before moving on to an intermediate-level module.
Entry-level modules
Calculus of variations and advanced calculus (M820)
Analytic number theory I (M823)

30 credits from the following intermediate-level modules (you may include 30 credits from the other entry-level module above). Most intermediate-level modules start once every two years – in October.

Intermediate-level modules
Advanced mathematical methods (M833)
Analytic number theory II (M829)*
Applied complex variables (M828)
Approximation theory (M832)
Coding theory (M836)
Fractal geometry (M835)
Nonlinear ordinary differential equations (M821)

Or, subject to the rules about excluded combinations, the discontinued modules M431, M822, M824, M826, M827, M830 and M841.

*If you choose Analytic number theory II, you must take Analytic number theory I first.

You should note that the University's unique study rule applies to this qualification. This means that you must include at least 20 credits from OU modules that have not been counted in any other OU qualification that has previously been awarded to you.

The modules quoted in this description are currently available for study. However, as we review the curriculum on a regular basis, the exact selection may change over time.


On completion
On successful completion of the required modules you can be awarded a Postgraduate Certificate in Mathematics entitling you to use the letters PG Cert Maths (Open) after your name.

You may continue your studies and add a further 60 credits to your certificate to gain a Diploma in Postgraduate Mathematics (E23), or a further 120 credits to obtain the MSc in Mathematics (F04).

Recognition in your country
If you intend to use your Open University qualifications to seek work or undertake further study outside the UK, we recommend checking whether your intended qualification will meet local requirements for your chosen career. Read recognition in my country.

Credit transfer
For this qualification, we do not allow you to count credit for study you have already done elsewhere.

Remember to mention gradireland when contacting institutions!