Undergraduate Projects

Final-year MATH projects are core or compulsory for students on some degree programmes, namely MMath, Mathematics with Astronomy, and Mathematics with Biology. For MMath this is a whole-year project coded as MATH6144, and in the other cases it is a Semester 2 project only, coded as MATH3031.  In all other cases the project MATH3031 is optional. The core course MATH3032. Communicating and Researching Mathematics contains substantial elements of individual and group project work, and in some cases it is possible for project work undertaken for MATH3032 to be developed further within MATH3031, in consultation with the student's Programme Coordinator.

The benefits of a project

Students who take a project generally find it very interesting and valuable. It is an opportunity to organize your own study materials and work schedule, and to get to grips with a topic in greater depth than a normal taught course might allow: indeed, the subject itself may be outside the usual curriculum. It gives excellent training in independent learning and investigation that will stand you in good stead for further academic work at postgraduate level or for employment elsewhere.

Types of project

Projects vary considerably in style, and can usually be tailored to the particular interests of the student. Some may be largely reading programmes, while others turn out to be minor research projects. They may involve a large amount of computing or none at all. It is expected that the project will be finally submitted in computer type-set form (using Word or LaTeX, for example).

Choosing a project

Consult your Programme Coordinator about finding a supervisor and a topic for your project. You are well advised to start on this during the semester before the project begins, not only because there may be competition for supervisors and topics, but also because you can be given some preliminary reading that will give you a taste of the topic before you begin serious work. Moreover, you will need to enter the details on your choice-of-options form at the end of the preceding year or semester. You are also invited to consult any of the following members of staff, depending on the general area of mathematics in which you are interested:

  • Applied Mathematics: Kostas Zygalakis
  • Operational Research: Huo-Duo Qi
  • Pure Mathematics: Ashot Minasyan
  • Statistics: Jon Foster

By clicking on the Applied, OR & Statistics or Pure links on the left hand side of this page you will find a list of projects and supervisors in various areas of mathematics. If you are interested in one of these, consult the supervisor directly. Do not worry about the stated level or duration, as topics are usually rather flexible. However, do not forget that these are only suggestions, and that you may write a project on any topic over which you and a supervisor can agree.

Project supervision

You will normally see your supervisor once a week or so to discuss progress and to keep you on track. Your supervisor will give you advice about writing up the project. It is advisable to write up in draft form parts of your work as you proceed (and to keep a safe copy): one thing you will certainly learn from doing a project is that that 'final' writing up takes longer than you think!

Expectations and assessment

We do not expect great new discoveries, but you may well produce some original work in the form of new examples or new angles on familiar material: we are looking for indications that you have personally engaged with the topic, and are not just reproducing standard texts. You will be expected to give an oral presentation (of about 15+5 minutes for MATH3031, while for MATH6144 the presentation at the end of the first semester lasts 15+5 minutes while the one at the end of the second semester  lasts 25+5 minutes, with the last 5 minutes being reserved for questions) summarising the contents of your project, near the deadline for submission. Your supervisor will give you advice on this. The project will be read by two members of academic staff (Supervisor + Assessor) who will be the audience for your presentation and will agree on a final mark. If a project represents a further development of project work begun within MATH3032, then a copy of the earlier project should be included as an appendix; credit will be given only for work which goes beyond the scope of the work undertaken for MATH3032. Technical details regarding thingsd such as format and suggested page length can be found by following the "Guidelines" link on the left hand side of this document. The criteria for assessing projects, with their normal weightings, are:

  • Exposition (mathematical accuracy, clarity, literary presentation, coverage of the topic) 30%;
  • Literature (understanding, relating different sources and finding new sources) 20%;
  • Originality (examples cited or constructed, new treatments and proofs of standard results, simple generalisations, original researches) 10%;
  • Scope of topic (conceptual and technical difficulty, relationship with previous studies, relevance of material included) 20%;
  • Oral presentation (clarity, organisation, relevance, use of resources, response to questions) 20%.

The whole-year project MATH6144 for MMath students will require a deeper level of understanding and maturity than the MATH3031 project. For example, the background reading might include some original research papers, and some awareness of current research issues and evidence of literature searches will be expected: of course your supervisor will guide you on these matters. We would also expect you to acquire some proficiency in LaTeX, which is the standard mathematical typesetting package in use in the academic profession. The project MATH6144 is assessed in two parts  at the end of semester 1 (25% of total), and  at the end of semester 2 (75% of total). The two parts are assessed according to the criteria and proportional weightings given above.  


What should go into the written report?

Your Supervisor will advise you on content, but in general the written report should contain a concise description of what you have done.  It should be pitched so as to be accessible to your peers.  It should adhere to the usual conventions for scientic writing - see the Guildeine tab on the left for more detail.  It is understood that the initial MATH6144 project submission represents only the first semester of a two-semester piece of work, so it is perfectly acceptable for it to contain some elements that have not yet been brought to a full conclusion.  It is also perfectly acceptable for the final MATH6144 submission to build up from the initial MATH6144 report; the final MATH6144 need not be written from scratch.

Project deadlines:

  • Deadline for MATH3030 and initial MATH6144 written reports: 15:00 Thursday 8th January 2015, to be handed in via the Faculty Office. 
  • Deadline for MATH3030 and initial MATH6144 orals: End of Friday 23th January 2015. Orals to take place during examination period, at a time and location of the choosing of the Supervisor, with both Supervisor and Assessor attending.
  • Deadline for MATH3030 and initial MATH6144 supervisors passing completed marking to me (KZ) 15:00 Wednesday 28th January 2015.
  • Deadline for MATH3031 and final MATH6144 written reports: 15:00 Thursday 14th May 2015, to be handed in via the Faculty Office.  
  • Deadline for MATH3031 and final MATH6144 orals: End of Wednesday 3th June 2015. Orals to take place during examination period, at a time and location of the choosing of the Supervisor, with both Supervisor and Assessor attending.  
  • Deadline for MATH3031/MATH6144 supervisors passing completed marking to Dr K. Zygalakis: 15:00 Thursday 4th June 2015.