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 2022.
You must submit a list of preferred supervisors online by 9th July 2021, and supervisors will be assigned in mid July. This should allow you to do some preliminary reading around the subject of your project over the summer vacation, so you are ready to start work in earnest on it in the Autumn Term.
Before submitting preferences for your project, you should look at the list of offered projects and contact any prospective supervisors to discuss their projects. It is always sensible to contact supervisors before listing them as a preference: you will work closely with your supervisor through the year and so it is important for you – and them – to learn as much as possible about whether a particular project is appropriate for you.
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 some 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. If you particularly wish to do a project on a topic that is not offered, this may be possible; please discuss with a suitable member of staff.
Available Project Titles:
Once you have found some suitable projects, please complete the project form (link) by entering your list of possible supervisors, in order of preference. This should be done by 9th July 2021. Please note that you may not necessarily be able to do the project with the supervisor you want; members of staff cannot supervise too many projects and will need to believe that the project they are offering is suitable for you. For this reason, you should include three possible supervisors in your list. Students will be assigned to supervisors in mid July 2021 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 will probably be able to do a suitable 30-credit or 45-credit project course in the other department rather than MATH0084 if you wish. 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 10th March 2022, 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 16 to March 25, 2022. This will be assigned 30% of the marks, and will be assessed principally by your supervisor and the second examiner, with some input from 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 two years presanctions have taken place online, but they were previously done in-person.
You should meet with your supervisor on a regular basis (probably once every week or two weeks) to discuss your progress and to get guidance on what to read, what to try to do next, etc. Remember that while the project is a chance for you to explore independent research, rather than to be told what to do, 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 the LaTeX Beamer package or other software (e.g. PowerPoint, Keynote). Writing your work up 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 on mathematical writing and presentation skills in the Autumn Term 2021, 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 (June 2021): start thinking about which project you want to do, talk to supervisors, etc.
- By 9th July 2021: submit on-line your list of choice of supervisor.
- Mid July 2021: when you know your supervisor, contact them in person by e-mail to discuss the project.
- Summer vacation: do some background reading/preliminary work as agreed with your supervisor.
- Beginning of Autumn Term 2021: meet supervisor (possibly online) and discuss your progress so far.
- Autumn Term 2021 (dates and details TBC): attend training on mathematical writing and presentation skills.
- End of Autumn Term 2021: a brief report on progress completed by supervisor and student and returned. Substantial progress should have been made on the project by this stage.
- Early Spring Term 2022: You should be thinking about producing a full draft of your project to discuss with your supervisor. You might want to practice talks to groups of fellow students.
- Thursday 10th March 2022, 4.00pm: submission of three copies of your written project to the Departmental Office, Room 610, 25 Gordon Street, and/or submission of electronic PDF copy to email@example.com.
- Wednesday 16th to 24th March 2022: project presentations take place.
- After that: preparing for your exams!
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.