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The most formal teaching sessions are lectures, which may now sometimes include online streamed lectures, but the vast majority will be in person. The lecturer is not just a teacher but is someone with considerable professional experience of the subject, who probably knows vastly more about it than you would ever remotely imagine. The lecturer tells you a substantial part of the material you need to know, and the rate of progress is much faster than in A-level teaching. Don't miss even one: even if you copy the notes from a friend or get them from the web, the effect is not the same as the live performance. This is just as applicable to lectures that are streamed live online. (The exception is if you are the student who gets full marks in all the assignments the lecturer sets, and helps all your friends with their difficulties - then if you find that reading an advanced textbook is more useful, you may be able to afford to miss some lectures.) Lecturers usually distribute example sheets and assignments to help you learn. Some assignments may be for credit, or there may be in-class tests. Some modules are not taught by lectures: there are reading modules (you learn directly from a book or similar), laboratories, seminars, essays and projects.


Tip: if you are having problems understanding the lectures, for example you cannot hear the lecturer or they don't write large enough on the boards, don't wait until the Evaluation Forms are distributed... tell the lecturer! They want you to be able to understand what they are telling you, and may not realise there is a problem. They won't bite!


Evaluation forms are made available online twice a term in every module. An initial one near the start of the module for instant feedback to the lecturer about what problems there may be, and a more in-depth one near the end of the module which also allows comments on the back. Lecturers will see the results of these evaluation forms, as will the Head of Department and Director of Undergraduate Studies, and although the final forms will not effect that module, they are invaluable for improving future lectures so please do take the time to fill them in.

Lecture Notes: Many modules will produce lecture notes for you, most commonly as pdfs, these are not an alternative to going to lectures. Many lecturers will go through additional material, or leave gaps in these notes for you to fill in, or at the very least give additional insight into the material. The golden rule however is that they are called "lecture notes" because they are the notes that the lecturer lectures from. Don't be surprised if most of what is written on the boards, or covered in lectures, comes from these notes (but also don't assume that everything they write does either). We no longer sell printed copies of lectures notes from the department.

Try the lectures, taste the module. When it comes to choosing an optional module check out the Course Handbook entry, look up any books mentioned there, go to the first few lectures and then raise any queries with the lecturer to help you in deciding whether to take it. For Mathematics modules, the process of choosing is quite informal: you may have had to pre-register, but you can change at any time until your last chance to register for an extra module by the end of week 2 in term 2. (When you decide not to take a module from another department for which you have pre-registered, you must notify the lecturer in charge, especially if there are tutorials or supervisions or lab sessions involved.)

There are so-called unusual options: there is nothing mysterious about these except that you need to fill in a form and get the agreement of your tutor and the module organiser, which will then be signed off by the Director Of Undergraduate Studies subject to certain conditions. Please be aware that timetable clashes may occur when you take List B options or unusual options. We try very hard to minimise them, but eliminating them altogether could only be done by cutting substantial sections from our very popular flexible system.

Lecture Observation and Peer Review

One of the procedures the Department uses to support the continuous development of individual teaching practice, and to ensure that teaching continues to be innovative, engaging and high quality is to use Peer Dialogue on Teaching, which is the observation of academic staff and their teaching practice by their academic peers. The procedure is particularly beneficial to identify good practice that can be shared amongst peers, as well as recognising opportunities for development and improvement.

From 2020/2021, all modules in the Maths department being delivered within an academic year will be included in the Peer Dialogue process. This process is required for all Academic staff and optional for Postgraduate Research Students who teach. It is managed by the Director of Education and student who have questions about this process should discuss this with the Director of Education in the first instance.

Please see the links below for further details:

Peer Dialogue on Teaching University Policy Statement