A year in review: TM111, MU123 and TM112

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

As the first year of Stage 1 of my BSc (Hons) Computing and IT draws to a close, time to run through the highlights of studying with the Open University.

Module materials

If you are yet to study TM111, TM112 or MU123, then I hope you like receiving big boxes of books! For both TM111 and TM112, you get three or four thick textbooks. TM111 divides Block 2, which introduces OU Build, into two spiral-bound textbooks.

MU123 splits the units over four thick books, labelled A to D. You also get a DVD with a handful of short videos that relate to exercises in the books. If you do not have a DVD player, then they are all available on the module website. For all the modules, there are several other bits of paper, including a useful study calendar. Making a large copy of the study calendar and sticking it on the wall above my desk helps a lot!

The books have an accessible style, occasionally taking an informal approach. I would have preferred more examples and exercises in the programming sections of TM111 and TM112. However, with OU Build in TM111 there are challenges to carry out and discuss on the module forums. If you want more Python, the Open University tutors are happy to suggest useful third-party books or websites.

There are plenty of worked examples and exercises to try in all the MU123 books. It took a while, but I benefitted from going through all the exercises. It helps because I could then spot similarities between these and the TMA questions.

Course content and structure

TM111 and TM112 offer a broad introduction to computing and IT. They cover a lot of interesting topics at a basic level to steer your further study ambitions. For example, TM111 introduces you to hardware, web development and networking, among many other topics. The use of mathematical concepts, especially binary maths, and logic run through both TM111 and TM112. Studying MU123 alongside both modules certainly proved an asset when running into the maths exercises.

Programming is a strong component of both TM111 and TM112, but each module approaches it in a different way. TM111 introduces you to basic concepts through OU Build, a visual programming language similar to Scratch. You get one big block of programming in the middle of the module.

TM112 uses the popular Python programming language but spread the Python sections throughout the module. In theory, you could do all the Python sections in each block together, either before or after the other sections. This approach gets over the problem of forgetting what you were doing after a week or two’s break from programming.

Many others will disagree, but I would have welcomed a bit more Python programming in TM112. The intention is not to teach you programming but more examples or challenges would have been useful. Particularly if you want to take the programming-heavy modules in Stage 2, such as M269 (Python) and M250 (Java).

MU123 is great refresher of GCSE maths and helps you take this a little further into AS Level territory. If you already have some A-Level maths or are confident with maths, then you might be looking at MST124.

For the less confident, MU123 takes you gradually from the basics and through algebra, trigonometry, and exponentials, among other topics. The books explain things very well explained. There are some worked examples, occasionally with short videos on the module website. It gets progressively harder. Some of the later units can be tough depending upon your confidence and experience with maths.


I had some great face-to-face tutorials for TM111. Sadly, I could not attend any for MU123 and TM112 due to clashes and the Covid-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, there were plenty of online tutorials for TM111 and TM112.

You will get access to a variety of tutorials given by tutors within your geographical cluster. Tutors record some, though arguably not enough, tutorials. At the start, there will be a lot of introductory tutorials. They are good for getting a feel of the module and different tutors. At the risk of going over the same ground, I benefitted from experiencing the styles of each tutor. As the module progressed, I became more selective and went to those tutorials where I thought I would most benefit. As TMA deadlines approached, I did not have the time to go to every tutorial, even if so inclined.

It is a similar format for MU123, with one exception. If they are running, I recommend attending the series of tutorials that cover one unit at a time. There is usually one tutor in each block running what often seems to be one tutorial every other week. It is great for planning your time. Aim to finish a unit before going to the relevant tutorial. You can use the tutorial as a test of whether you have understood things.


When you study two modules side-by-side, there will come a time when the TMA deadlines come thick and fast. Thus, I advise getting ahead and, if possible, staying ahead. Of course, this is not always possible and, indeed, it was not for me.

For TM111, you will have three TMAs. If you start in October, they will be due in November, January, and March. The TMAs are a mix of practical activities, programming questions and short essay writing questions. There are iCMAs, due in October, December and February. All these assessments count, to varying degrees, towards your final module mark.

My advice is to do the iCMA and TMA questions as you study the relevant section in the book. Better to have a draft answer when you finish a block, rather than a blank sheet of paper with a week to go.

TM112 is slightly different. You still have three TMAs (unusually all available at the start of the module) but no assessed iCMAs. The TMAs, if starting in April, are due in May, July and September. You must do them, however, and, unlike TMAs, you can discuss the questions in the module forums. The TMAs are a mix of programming questions and short essay writing questions.

MU123 has a lot more TMAs. Well, it has four TMAs and one EMA (think a TMA on steroids). There are also five iCMAs. They all count, again to varying degrees, to your final module result. Everything apart from the EMA is worth 50% of your final mark. The EMA is worth the other 50% of the mark (and you must get at least 30% to pass). When you submit your EMA, expect to wait almost two months for your mark and overall module result.

Looking to the future

TM111 and TM112 set the groundwork nicely for modules in Stage 2 and 3 of the degree. They introduce a range of topics that you can explore in more detail later in the course. For example, you can take TM257, Cisco Networking (CCNA) Part 1, in Stage 2 to study networking in more depth. Or the new TM256, Cyber Security, module to build upon the digital forensics and cryptography sections in TM112.

MU123 is a good foundation for the mathematical concepts that I except to encounter in later computing and IT modules. However, I plan to go over some topics from MST124 using third party resources such as Khan Academy. TM129, Technologies in Practice, is next. Pleasingly, this looks more practical than TM111 or TM112 and covers networking, robotics and AI, and operating systems (Linux mainly).

Join the Conversation


  1. Really enjoyed reading your review. I am working on these modules and was wondering what was coming up in TM112 and TM129 so found this information very useful. Thanks!!

    1. Thank you for those kind words Amanda. I am glad you found it useful. Good luck with TM112 and TM129!

  2. Currently doing the same Year 1 as you and was nice to see you have the same views as myself

  3. Hi Luke,
    That’s an excellent review – many thanks.
    I’m about to start T111 in April, but I’m a little concerned – as my background is in software development (25+ years). I also have an honours degree with the Open University in a similar subject, so I’m hoping that this module will not be too easy (i.e. boring!)

    1. Thanks Stephen. You may find that to be the case, particularly as you have a lot of previous IT experience. Hopefully, later modules like TM112 and, certainly, those in Stages 2 and 3 should provide more of a challenge. Still, I have noticed that other students in a similar position to you seem to be doing additional non-Open University online courses if they have the time. They are also very helpful on the module forums with advice to other students, like myself, who are new to the world of IT!

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