Lectures, Problems Classes and Assessment
Lectures, Problems Classes and Assessment
One thing students will quickly notice once they start at College is how different learning is at university. Most course information is given through lectures, in the form of about three lectures per module per week, with great emphasis placed on independent work.
In lectures students will need to be taking good notes so that they can review these later, and although there are usually opportunities at the end to ask questions, most of students “work” and asking of questions will need to be done outside of lectures in their own time. Many lecturers will use the College's VLE Blackboard Learn to display module information (eg. notes, problem sheets, recommended reading), but some will use separate websites. Lecturers will often give recommended reading lists and online notes to support you with your learning, in addition to the notes taken in class. Problems Classes take place to support the students with the problem solving process. A number of modules are recorded through an online system to allow students to watch lectures again and revise at home. Lecturers also set aside certain times each week for office hours when they are available to help students.
Much of your term is not timetabled. You should allocate some of it to studying your lecture notes and books, revising and especially solving problems, in addition to enjoying the social life of the College and of London. You will need to plan your work and you will need some determination.
FIRST YEAR PROGRAMME
In the current First Year programme, students take eight compulsory modules each of which has approximately 30 lectures plus problems classes. These compulsory modules develop a strong foundation in mathematics for all students in Pure and Applied Mathematics and Statistics and Probability. Students also take a computional module, with a weekly lecture and tutorial, learning the progamming tools Maple and Python. You can read more about the modules and their content in the UG Maths Handbook 2017-18.
To assist with the transition from school to university, "bridging" lectures have also been offered in the first term of the First Year to support students with the foundation of their knowledge.
In the First and Second Years, students on the G104 Mathematics with a Year in Europe programme also take an appropriate language module in addition to the mathematics modules. However, students who are especially well prepared in the language for their proposed year of study away may exceptionally have the language module requirements waived.
All students throughout their degree programme may also take not-for-credit Imperial Horizons modules to complement their learning. The Imperial Horizons programme allows students to take a non-maths module from over 80 different options, past modules have included topics as varied as: Introduction to Management, Sound Technology and Korean. The programme has been designed to broaden students’ education and enhance their career prospects.
SECOND, THIRD AND FOURTH YEAR PROGRAMMES
In the Second, Third and Fourth Year programmes, as with the First Year programme, with very few exceptions, each module has nominally 30 lectures or their equivalent, together with support classes.
In academics what I’ve appreciated most is the sheer variety of third and fourth year options. You can become as specialised or stay as general as you like, tailoring your degree to your interests and ambitions and getting exactly what you want from it."
The Second Year programme extends and enhances major themes that feature in the First Year programme of study. The Second Year programme contains ten examined mathematics modules. Seven of the modules are compulsory and students may choose one module from the remaining three course options. The limited option available at Second Year level should be regarded as an opportunity to familiarise yourself with areas of special interests. You can read more about the Second Year Programme and modules in Year 2 Guide to Optional Modules.
Third Year students take eight modules from over 50 of selections from within the Department and from certain modules elsewhere. In the Fourth Year (only for MSci students), students choose six modules made available to them in the Department and from certain modules elsewhere and complete a M4R project equivalent to two lecture modules. The great variety of modules in the Third and Fourth Years allows students to specialise in the area they are most interested in. Read more about the Year 3 Guide to Optional Modules and Year 4 Guide to Optional Modules.
In order to be able to work with large data and challenging computations, students are currently taught Maple and Python in their first year. In the third year optional modules have included ones where C and R are taught, to further students computational abilities and professional skills. LaTeX typesetting skills are taught in the first year as part of the first year independent project at the end of the year.
"In academics what I’ve appreciated most is the sheer variety of third and fourth year options. You can become as specialised or stay as general as you like, tailoring your degree to your interests and ambitions and getting exactly what you want from it: every maths degree from Imperial is unique, so it’s easy to stand out. I stayed very broad in my third year before specialising in my fourth year. Staying broad means I have a very good working knowledge in a number of areas of mathematics, whilst specialising has meant I’ve been taught by several world-leaders in my chosen field: the best of both worlds, and precisely what I need to succeed in further study.
I was on the MSci programme, which has been a great springboard into PhD-level study: the project in particular allows you to work closely with an expert in their field, bringing you right up to the cutting-edge of research."
Every compulsory module in the First and Second Year also holds a weekly Problems Class. The main purpose of the weekly classes is to discuss the lecture material and to sort out any difficulties arising from problems sheets set by the lecturers. Each week students will be given sheets of problems to tackle. It is very important to spend adequate time on these. Students will probably have found Mathematics relatively easy at school or college and should not find it surprising if they find that they need to work much harder at Mathematics at university, where the subject is more about problem solving and rigorous proof than about tackling routine exercises and calculations.
To help students with the transition from school to university level Mathematics, the Department tries to give students as much support as possible in the first year. In addition to the problems classes, lecturers have office hours and students will have two small tutorials—one with our Personal Tutor, an academic, and one with a fourth year peer tutor, in which to go over problems in more depth. The best way to get the most out of these sessions is to have done a good deal of independent work before coming to these tutorials in order to be able to get the help you need, and know what questions to ask. Typically, students will need to spend 40 hours per week on Mathematics (including lectures and tutorials). However, students will find that solving problems and understanding concepts is more satisfying and productive without time constraints. As a previous student has said—first year is all about learning how to “struggle” with a problem, to really understand how to break it down and solve it.
Problems Classes also take place for Third and Fourth Year modules, but are not timetabled with separate times. They form part of the cohesive 30 hours of lectures. Individual lectures will set the pace for the modules and problems classes will be held appropriately.
Office hours continue to provide extra support for Second through Fourth Year modules just as in the First Year. Students should feel they have the support, place and time to ask questions from their lecturers.
Learning is assessed in a number of ways in the Mathematics Department, including in-class tests, take-home coursework, projects and oral presentations. Assessments are designed to motivate and monitor the progress of each student throughout their courses, and allow students to gain feedback on their learning and work.
Most modules in the Mathematics Department are assessed by a combination of coursework during the term and a final exam in May, where the final exam is usually worth 90% of the final mark. Coursework for modules with examinations is marked and returned to students during the term for feedback. Many students find it difficult to write out a mathematical argument at first, and the feedback that you receive can form a valuable part of the process of learning to present an argument.
In the Third and Fourth Years some modules are project based, with no final exam. In the First and Second Year students undertake a short end of the year research project and Fourth Years complete a year long intensive independent research project. Third Year students may opt for an independent research project as one of their modules.
Final examinations for mathematics modules are held in May each year, with resit examinations for Years 1 and 2 in September. All modules must be passed in order to progress to the following year of study.
Current Students should visit the MathsCentral Blackboard module for information on mathematics examinations, including timetables, advice on resits and appeals. Past papers and solution sets can also be found on Blackboard.
Your class of degree is determined by your total mark over the whole programme, but the years do not count equally. We give less weight to the first year, since it is a year of consolidation and acclimatisation to university life.
For degree classification information, please read information in the Scheme for the Award of Honours in Mathematics (2016-2017).
Academic Integrity and Plagiarism
The Mathematics programmes at Imperial are generally very intensive. The concept of academic integrity is fundamental to your student experience at Imperial, particularly your conduct relating to assessments, so as to ensure that your academic achievements are a true reflection of your abilities.
Additionally, the Department and College take plagiarism very seriously. The Mathematics Department has a Departmental Plagiarism Policy is included in the Handbook and all students are given support on understanding the policy and how to site sources correctly. The College guidance can be viewed online. Students are recommended to seek advice when unsure about how to correctly reference their work. Current students can view more information on the Blackboard module MathsCentral.