Lectures, Problems Classes and Assessment
Lectures, Problems Classes and Assessment
Learning and Teaching
In the Mathematics degree programme, you will learn though a combination of lectures, problem classes, tutorials, computing lab classes, group work and self-study. Support for learning, in the form of tutorials and problem classes, is tapered over the years. It is greater in the early stages of the programme, allowing students to develop into fully-independent learners by the end of the programme.
One thing you will quickly notice once they start at College is how different learning is at university. Most module information is given through lectures or reading assignments 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 your 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 revise at home. Lecturers also set aside certain times each week for office hours when they are available to help students.
Much of your time at university will not timetabled. You will need to plan out a weekly schedule to allocate time to studying your lecture notes and books, revising and solving problems, in addition to enjoying the social life at the College and London.
FIRST YEAR PROGRAMME
In the First Year, all students take the same core modules, with lectures and 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 programming language Python. The year ends with an independent research project.
In the First and Second Years, students on the G104 Mathematics with a Year Abroad 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 a variety of 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 lectures together with problems classes to support the learning.
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. Students take core and optional modules. The optional modules available at Second Year level should be regarded as an opportunity to familiarise yourself with areas of special interests. Some of the optional modules will be pre-requisites for third and fourth year modules.
Third Year students take eight modules from over 40 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 complete an extended independent research 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.
You can read more about the modules and options in the Programme specifications.
In order to be able to work with large data and challenging computations, students are currently taught Python in their first year. In the third year optional modules have included other programming languages, 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."
Problem Classes and Tutorials
Every core module in the First and Second Year also holds regular problems classes. The main purpose of the classes is to discuss the lecture material and to sort out any difficulties arising from problems sheets set by the lecturers. Students are given regular sets of questions to tackle outside of class and you will be expected to prepare for these classes by working on these problem sets. Activities in the classes can include: working in small groups with the assistance of a GTA or the lecturer; engaging with presentations of solutions to the problems or working on challenging unseen problems individually or in groups.
In addition to the problems classes, lecturers have office hours or Q&A sessions where you can ask more questions, and in your first year, you will also have an extra small weekly tutorial with a peer tutor in which to go over problems in more depth with peers. 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.
Problems classes also take place for Third and Fourth Year modules and form part of the cohesive lecture series. Individual lectures will set the pace for the modules and problems classes will be held appropriately.
Office hours or Q& A sessions continue to provide extra support for Second through Fourth Year modules just as in the First Year. Students are also encouraged to form their own small study groups for group study and discussion.
Learning is assessed in a number of ways in the Mathematics Department, including, for example: timed tests, on-line quizzes, take-home coursework, short portfolio assignments, projects and oral presentations. Some assessments are individual, some may be group assesments. 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. Coursework for modules with examinations is marked and returned to students during the term for feedback.
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 Year students complete a year long intensive independent research project. Students on a three-year programme may opt for an independent research project as one of their final year modules.
Final examinations for mathematics modules are held in May each year, with resit examinations for Years 1 and 2 in September.
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 current degree classification information, please read information in the Programme specifications.
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 College guidance can be viewed online. Students are recommended to seek advice when unsure about how to correctly reference their work.