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Choosing Your First Year, First Semester Mathematics Course

Students may have the following questions:

  1. Who needs to take MATH1003, MATH1005, MATH1013, MATH1115, or MATH1113?
  2. Who needs to take Maths Bridging Modules? 

The short answer to question (2) is that any student who needs or wants to take any of the Mathematics courses offered by the ANU as part of their degree program, but does not have the required prerequisite knowledge, should take one or more of the Maths bridging modules running in January-February. Below we address (1) by providing a brief summary of each of our first year Maths courses.

MATH1115  (Advanced Mathematics and Applications I) is part of the MSI advanced level stream. Students who think they might do Honours in Mathematics at the end of their degree should enrol in this course. However, taking MATH1115 does not mean that you have to do an honours year in Mathematics. The honours level courses are intended for those who want an in-depth understanding of mathematics. They are not just meant for mathematics students; many physics, engineering and actuarial students also take the advanced level courses. A number of students who complete Honours in Mathematics go on to study in a variety of other areas. For example some students may complete a PhD in Quantitative Biology.

MATH1115 students who are planning to complete a Specialisation in Advanced Mathematics, or who are in a Bachelor of Mathematical Sciences, or who are likely to do Honours in Mathematics, may want to take MATH2222 concurrently with MATH1115. Depending on your program students might require permission from the MATH2222 course convener to enrol and we encourage students to also talk to the MATH1115 lecturers. Students who wish to enroll in MATH1115, but do not have the required prerequisites should complete Bridging Module 3 (and possibly also Bridging Module 2).

MATH1013 (Mathematics and Applications 1) is our mainstream first year course taken by many STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) students. Although Mathematics is the final letter in ‘STEM’, it ranks first in importance because it is the foundation on which the three other disciplines are built! MATH1013 (or, at a more advanced level, MATH1115) covers single variable calculus and introductory linear algebra, and is a required prerequisite or co-requisite for many ANU courses in engineering, physics, quantitative biology, and environmental modelling. Typically, students taking MATH1013/1115 progress to MATH1014/1116 in second semester. Students who lack the required prerequisites to enroll in MATH1013 should complete Bridging Module 2 (and possibly also Bridging Module 1).  

If students are taking an Advanced Computing, Information Technology or Software Engineering degree, then they may be required to take MATH1005 (Discrete Mathematical Models) or MATH6005  instead of, or in addition to, other mathematics courses (check with the relevant area). Bridging Module 1 will prepare students for MATH1005 or MATH6005 if they lack the required prerequisites.

MATH1003 (Algebra and Calculus Methods) is required in several Science Majors and also provides a pathway to higher level mathematics courses. Bridging Module 1 is designed for students wishing to take this course but who lack the required prerequisites.

MATH1113 (Mathematical Foundations for Actuarial Studies) is chiefly required by students enrolled in programs offered by the ANU Research School of Finance, Actuarial Studies & Statistics. Students who do not have the necessary prerequisites would need to take Bridging Module 3 (and possibly also Bridging Module 2).

Diagnostic Test

The Mathematical Sciences Institute will give students access to an online diagnostic test that they should take as soon as it becomes available. The result in the diagnostic test will determine which bridging module (if any) students will need to complete before enrolling in ANU Maths courses. A link to the diagnostic test website will be available by the end of November.

Take the Diagnostic Test

What if I need to enroll in a Maths course but don’t have the prerequisite knowledge?

For those that do not have the background to take one of the ANU first year Maths courses and who need or want to take the course as part of their degree program, there are two recommended options:

  1. If you delay taking MATH1013 until Semester 2 and can fit an additional first year MATH course into your degree program, then we recommend that you take MATH1003 in Semester 1 first. Then you can take MATH1013 in Semester 2, and MATH1014 later in your degree if it is also required.
    [Note: MATH1014 is offered as an intensive ‘Spring Session’ course in November-December, immediately after the end of the Semester 2 examination period. If you delay taking MATH1013 in Semester 2, it may be that the Spring Session version of MATH1014 is the best option for you.]
  2. If taking MATH1013 in Semester 1 is important for your planned degree progression, but your degree program does not allow the space to take an additional first year MATH course prior to MATH1013, then you must take Bridging Module 2  (and possibly also Bridging Module 1) in January.

If you must take MATH1013 in Semester 1, but do not have the required background, cannot take the bridging module(s),  and cannot complete MATH1003 before taking MATH1013, you can still enroll in MATH1013. However please contact the MSI first year coordinator Adam Piggott for advice and to alert him to the fact you will be taking MATH1013 without the background knowledge. This is generally a very bad idea since there is a high failure rate amongst students who do not have sufficient background knowledge for the Maths course they are taking. Therefore we strongly discourage students from choosing this path.

The three Maths bridging modules are all offered remotely (no need to come to Canberra) but in a fully interactive manner and with plenty of hours dedicated to workshops that allow hands on, peer-to-peer learning and teaching. 

Further Information

You can find additional information about which first year, first semester mathematics course you should take at this link: First Year Mathematics Courses and you can find here a table of prerequisite knowledge expectations.  You may also be interested to see which Majors, Minors and Specialisations you can complete if you desire to take Maths courses beyond first year. Please note, however, that although you may think that you are sufficiently familiar with the Maths material you covered at school, you still need to take the diagnostic test. If your performance in this test is sufficiently good for the ANU Maths course of your choice, you will not be required to take a Maths bridging module. On the other hand, if your performance is below a given threshold value, you will need to complete one (or more) Maths bridging module(s). 

Frequently Asked Questions

"I'm interested in studying the abstract mathematics content in MATH1115 and I have the required background. What can I do to further prepare for the course?"

A recommended (but not required) book for MATH1115 students is How to Study for a Mathematics Degree, by Lara Alcock. You can find it easily from various sources via an internet search. This book is available both as a paperback and as an e-book. Students will understand much more of what to expect from a proof-based mathematics course, and be more able to hit the ground running, if they read this book before semester starts. The second part of the book also covers some general tips about study skills, which every university student would benefit from reading.

"I don’t have the suggested background for MATH1115 (i.e., the highest level of school mathematics available in your state if you are Australian). Can I still take MATH1115?"

The short answer is that yes you can, but you must complete Maths Bridging Module 3 (and possibly Bridging Module 2) first. This is because we will assume that you are familiar with the highest level of mathematics from school. If you are not familiar enough with this required material, you will have to catch up on your own; while also trying to learn all of the new material that we will be going through at a much faster pace than what you are used to from school. It is not a matter of your intention or ability, it is simply that there are a limited number of hours in a day. You would need to have a high degree of aptitude and want to deeply understand mathematics for MATH1115 to work out for you, and it is unusual for someone who did not do the highest level of mathematics available to them at school to fit this category. Abstract mathematics at university is very different from what you are used to at high school. If, against our advice, you are going to take MATH1115 without the required background, you should begin studying Chapters 1 through 6 of the Stewart, "Essential Calculus" textbook as soon as possible (a lot of this content is actually assumed knowledge for MATH1115).

"I don’t have the suggested background for MATH1013, but my degree program or another course I am taking requires me to take MATH1013. What should I do?"

There are two options: (1) Take MATH1003 first, then MATH1013 in second semester and MATH1014 in the Spring Session at the end of the year, or otherwise in first semester of second year. Discuss this option with the relevant authority (one of the sub-deans in your college, or the convener for the first year course that requires MATH1013 as a co-requisite). (2) Enrol in Maths Bridging Module 2 (and possibly Bridging Module 1) first. Option (2) is highly recommended since many students enrolled in double degrees cannot fit an additional course in their sudy program.