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Department of Mathematics & Statistics

MATH151 General Mathematics

First SemesterAlso available:  Summer School
18 points

Mathematics occurs in almost every field of study and certainly in every quantitative discipline. Getting on top of even basic mathematical techniques is an important step to being able to understand the analytical processes in those fields — processes that deal with, for example, chemical reactions, financial models, population interactions between species, and the stresses in the structural members of a bridge.

Paper details

This is an ideal paper for those who need or want to take at least a service paper in mathematical methods and do not yet have a background in mathematics sufficiently strong to join the MATH 160 class. Emphasis is placed on understanding via examples, and you will use the methods taught to study a variety of practical problems. In the process your manipulation skills in algebra and calculus will improve, and you will gain insight into the usefulness of the techniques. It will also provide you with an appreciation of the value and power of Mathematics and the motivation to progress to further MATH papers.

In particular you will cover such topics as linear and quadratic models, linear programming, functional notation, differentiation, rates of change, graphing of functions, optimization problems, exponentials and logarithms, compound interest, exponential growth and decay, simple integration.

Potential students

This course is intended for students whose mathematical background is insufficient to embark on MATH 160 but who want to improve their maths skills, either to assist in their studies of other subjects or to prepare themselves to take MATH 160.


NCEA Level 2 Mathematics

Main topics

  • Basic algebraic manipulation
  • Equations of lines
  • Systems of linear equations
  • Quadratics
  • Arithmetic progressions
  • Compound interest
  • Linear programming
  • Rates of change
  • Differentiation
  • Graphing functions
  • Optimization problems
  • Simple integration
  • Finding areas
  • Exponential, log and trig functions
  • Differential equations

Required text

None. Course materials will be available on the resource page.

Useful references

Reviewing of texts from year 12 or year 13 mathematics may be useful from time to time. There are also two books available on close reserve at the Science Library, Foundation Maths and Maths for Higher Education.


Associate Professor Boris Baeumer, room 213

Lectures (Semester 1)

Lectures: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 10 am

Tutorial (Semester 1)

You will be streamed into a two-hour tutorial per week. All labs are in the Science III building (same building as Math department). You are guaranteed a seat during your allotted time slot and are invited to attend other tutorials as long as there is room available. Your homework must be submitted during one of the tutorials.

Internal Assessment (Semester 1)

There are four computer Skills Tests which count 20% (T) of your final mark. Your assignment mark A counts 15% and is based on 10 on-line assignments. The on-line assignments have to be submitted during the tutorial. The remaining 65% of the final mark comes from the examination.

You can check your marks by clicking on the Resources link at the top of this page.

Terms Requirement

You have to fulfill the terms requirement in order to be allowed to sit the final exam. In this paper, to pass “terms” you need to gain a mark of 5 or better on the first three Skills Tests before the end of the 12th week.

Final mark

Your final mark F in the paper will be calculated according to this formula:

F = 0.65E + 0.15A + 0.2T


  • E is the Exam mark
  • A is the Assignments mark
  • T is the Tests mark

and all quantities are expressed as percentages.

Students must abide by the University’s Academic Integrity Policy

Academic integrity means being honest in your studying and assessments. It is the basis for ethical decision-making and behaviour in an academic context. Academic integrity is informed by the values of honesty, trust, responsibility, fairness, respect and courage.

Academic misconduct is seeking to gain for yourself, or assisting another person to gain, an academic advantage by deception or other unfair means. The most common form of academic misconduct is plagiarism.

Academic misconduct in relation to work submitted for assessment (including all course work, tests and examinations) is taken very seriously at the University of Otago.

All students have a responsibility to understand the requirements that apply to particular assessments and also to be aware of acceptable academic practice regarding the use of material prepared by others. Therefore it is important to be familiar with the rules surrounding academic misconduct at the University of Otago; they may be different from the rules in your previous place of study.

Any student involved in academic misconduct, whether intentional or arising through failure to take reasonable care, will be subject to the University’s Student Academic Misconduct Procedures which contain a range of penalties.

If you are ever in doubt concerning what may be acceptable academic practice in relation to assessment, you should clarify the situation with your lecturer before submitting the work or taking the test or examination involved.

Types of academic misconduct are as follows:


The University makes a distinction between unintentional plagiarism (Level One) and intentional plagiarism (Level Two).

  • Although not intended, unintentional plagiarism is covered by the Student Academic Misconduct Procedures. It is usually due to lack of care, naivety, and/or to a lack to understanding of acceptable academic behaviour. This kind of plagiarism can be easily avoided.
  • Intentional plagiarism is gaining academic advantage by copying or paraphrasing someone elses work and presenting it as your own, or helping someone else copy your work and present it as their own. It also includes self-plagiarism which is when you use your own work in a different paper or programme without indicating the source. Intentional plagiarism is treated very seriously by the University.

Unauthorised Collaboration

Unauthorised Collaboration occurs when you work with, or share work with, others on an assessment which is designed as a task for individuals and in which individual answers are required. This form does not include assessment tasks where students are required or permitted to present their results as collaborative work. Nor does it preclude collaborative effort in research or study for assignments, tests or examinations; but unless it is explicitly stated otherwise, each students answers should be in their own words. If you are not sure if collaboration is allowed, check with your lecturer..


Impersonationis getting someone else to participate in any assessment on your behalf, including having someone else sit any test or examination on your behalf.


Falsificationis to falsify the results of your research; presenting as true or accurate material that you know to be false or inaccurate.

Use of Unauthorised Materials

Unless expressly permitted, notes, books, calculators, computers or any other material and equipment are not permitted into a test or examination. Make sure you read the examination rules carefully. If you are still not sure what you are allowed to take in, check with your lecturer.

Assisting Others to Commit Academic Misconduct

This includes impersonating another student in a test or examination; writing an assignment for another student; giving answers to another student in a test or examination by any direct or indirect means; and allowing another student to copy answers in a test, examination or any other assessment.

Further information

While we strive to keep details as accurate and up-to-date as possible, information given here should be regarded as provisional. Individual lecturers will confirm teaching and assessment methods.

Struggling to decide which 100-level Mathematics paper to take first? Our placement tools can help you.

The Bright’nWarm Greenhouse people are installing a new lighting system. To provide light and warmth to their plants through overhead lighting they must decide on how many incandescent bulbs and fluorescent tubes to use to achieve the effect they want. Each bulb gives off 4 units of heat and 6 units of light while each tube gives off 2 units of heat and 9 units of light. The bulbs cost \$3.00 each and the tubes cost \$4.00 each. The system must provide at least 20 units of heat and at least 54 units of light. How many bulbs and tubes should they use to minimize the cost?

Much of the basic mathematics we learn today can be traced back thousands of years. In Babylonian times (2000 to 1500 B.C.) quadratic equations could be solved, both by substituting into a general formula and by completing the square. Some cubic equations and biquadratic equations were also discussed. Tablets have been unearthed listing hundreds of unsolved problems involving simultaneous equations.

Their algebraic approach to solving geometric problems pre-dates by many centuries the advent of what we now call algebraic geometry. From an 1800 B.C. tablet: An area X, consisting of the sum of two squares, is 1000. The side of one square is 10 less than 2/3 the side of the other square. What are the sides of the squares?

Can you solve this problem?

A large ship manoeuvring towards its berth travels at a speed (in km/hr) of $t^3-3t^2+4$ (starting from time $t$=0). How long does it take to come to a stop? How far does it travel over that period of time?