This website provides information about the project for fourth-year MSci students on Mathematics degrees (single and combined honours). The project is a central part of the fourth-year degree: it is a compulsory module and is worth 30 credits (25% of the total for the year). The project gives you a chance to experience independent research, and as such is quite different from the other taught modules. You will be assigned a supervisor and, having agreed on a project, will work closely with that supervisor on the project through the year, until the submission deadline in March 2023.
You must submit a list of preferred supervisors online by 17th June 2022; supervisors will be assigned soon after this. This should allow you to do some preliminary reading or ground work for your project over the summer vacation, so you are ready to start work in earnest on it in the Autumn Term. You can list three preferences for which supervisor you would like to work with.
Please look at the list of offered projects (link below), and you are strongly advised to get in contact with any prospective supervisors to discuss their projects before you submit your project preferences. You will work closely with your supervisor through the year and so it is important for you – and for them – to learn as much as possible about whether a particular project is appropriate for you, before you commit to that project.
You can navigate this webpage using the links below:
- Choice of Project
- Structure of Project
- Help with the Project
- Project Timetable
- Assessment of MATH0084 Project
See below the list of project titles offered this year. Once you have found projects that interest you, please contact the relevant members of staff to discuss the project(s) with them. Although you will see that some project descriptions contain much more information than others, it is essential in all cases that you discuss details of the projects with the project supervisor to learn more about what will be involved. It is also possible to do a project that is not listed here: please discuss this with a suitable potential supervisor.
Available Project Titles:
Once you have found some suitable projects, please complete the project form (linked here) by entering your list of possible supervisors, in order of preference. This must be done by 17th June 2022. Please note that you will not all be able to do the project with the supervisor you want: members of staff usually supervise only one (occasionally two) projects each year. For this reason, you should include three possible supervisors in your list. Students will be assigned to supervisors in late 2022, and you will be told who your supervisor is shortly after this. You should then contact your supervisor (in person or by e-mail) to discuss preparatory work to be done over the vacation.
If you have any queries or cannot find a suitable project, please discuss this with Dr Duncan Hewitt (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the first instance.
If you are doing one of the combined degrees Maths and Physics or Maths and Statistics, you may be able to do a suitable 30-credit or 45-credit project course in the other department rather than MATH0084 if you wish. Maths and Statistics students, in particular, tend to find many more suitable projects offered by the Statistics department rather than in MATH0084. In this case, you follow the guidelines, timetable, etc, of that project, and the rest of this webpage is not relevant to you. If this applies to you, please contact Dr Hewitt to discuss your options.
The project is a 30-credit course. Thus it accounts for 25% of your fourth-year courses, and can be expected to take up a considerable amount of your time (nominally about 200 - 250 hours). The project has two parts: a written project and an oral presentation.
The written project
This must be submitted by Thursday 9th March 2023, and it must be word-processed. It will be marked by two examiners, the first of which will be your project supervisor, and it will be assigned 70% of the total marks. The exact form of the written project will depend on the project, but it should normally be roughly 5,000 - 10,000 words and it might typically include:
a) an introduction;
b) an exposition of the general area of the project, which should be at an appropriate level, generally assuming knowledge of the first 3 years of a Maths degree;
c) any problems solved;
d) a clear list of references.
The relative weight given to each of these sections will depend on the nature of the project, and you should discuss a broad outline of your project with your supervisor. A project consisting entirely of copied-out book-work would not be acceptable. You will get advice and help on your project from your supervisor.
The oral presentation
This will take the form of a talk to (at least) the examiners and should take place during the period March 15 to March 24, 2023. This will be assigned 30% of the marks and will be assessed principally by your supervisor and the second examiner, with input from any other examiners present. The talk will last approximately 20 minutes, with around 5 minutes for questions at the end. Details of the format of the presentation will be updated through the year depending on circumstances: for the last three years presanctions have taken place online, but they were previously done in-person.
You should meet with your supervisor on a regular basis (once a fortnight during term is a rough guideline; some people meet more frequently than this) to discuss your progress and to get guidance on what to read, what to try to do next, etc. Remember that the project is a chance for you to explore independent research, rather than to be told what to do; nevertheless, your supervisor should be closely engaged in the project and able to provide guidance and input.
Mathematical Writing and Presentation Skills
Projects are normally expected to be typeset using the mathematical word-processing package LaTeX. Presentations are usually delivered using either the LaTeX Beamer package or other presentation software (e.g. PowerPoint, Keynote). Writing up your work and presenting it clearly are very important parts of the project. The ability to plan systematically, layout work clearly, identify keys ideas, and describe a series of steps in a logical manner will be useful skills long after the end of your degree, no matter what your future career.
To help you with this, there will be a short course (or set of videos) on mathematical writing and presentation skills in the Autumn Term 2022, which you should attend (details TBC).
The project is quite a large-scale task and will take up quite a lot of time. It is therefore important that you start to work on it quickly, and follow the timetable given below.
- Start (May/June 2022): start thinking about which project you want to do, contact potential supervisors, etc.
- By 17th June 2022: submit on-line your list of (up to) three preferred supervisors.
- Late June / July 2022: when you know your supervisor, contact them in person or by e-mail to discuss the project.
- Summer vacation: do some background reading/preliminary work as agreed with your supervisor.
- Beginning of Autumn Term 2022: meet supervisor and discuss your progress so far.
- Autumn Term 2022 (dates and details TBC): attend training on mathematical writing and presentation skills.
- Christmas period 2022: typically, substantial progress should have been made on the project by now.
- Early Spring Term 2023: start thinking about producing a full written draft of your project; plan presentation.
- Thursday 9th March 2022, 23:59: deadline for submission of project. Submit via Moodle link (details tbc).
- Wednesday 15th to 24th March 2022: project presentations should take place at some point during this period (details TBC).
This is assessed by all examiners present using the presentation assessment form. The first examiner (the supervisor) and the second examiner decide the final mark for the presentation using this information.
The written project
This is assessed by the first and second examiner independently and then a mark agreed. Rough criteria for the assessment are given in the guidelines for marking MATH0084 project.
The final mark
This is made up of 30% of the presentation mark and 70% of the written project mark. These marks and the projects are considered (in rough subject groups) by a subset of examiners to see if they are all in agreement on the marks assigned, and some changes may be made if necessary. Projects are also seen by an external examiner who may recommend changes to the mark.
The final mark will be made available to you at the same time as the other examination marks.