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Lectures and Learning

Lectures

Lecture in progressOnce things are back to "normal" most of your modules will be taught in lectures, and in the first year most will be large lectures of approximately 300 to 400 students. Obviously, to begin with, this will not be possible due to social distancing restrictions and so modules will be largely delivered online through a mixture of synchronous (live) and asynchronous (pre-recorded) lectures with additional support online and through your Supervisor and Personal Tutor (see below).

The format of these lectures, and how they are delivered, will vary depending on the lecturer. Most should provide printed lecture notes at the start of the module which you can annotate or these will be made available as the module progresses. Once we have live face to face lectures again the majority will expect you to copy down notes from the blackboards; taking notes is an important technique to learn and you will find that some lecturers write faster than others, some will write extensive notes, others only the main points and you should try to annotate with your own comments. It is important by the end of the module to have a good set of notes to revise from, but more importantly to be reading and thinking about the material between lectures, so you should also think carefully how to produce your own set of lecture notes from online material (we will give guidance on this, and some ideas, but ultimately it will be for you to work out what works best for you).

Above all, University mathematics is not about us spoon feeding you all the information to absorb just before an exam, we want you to understand the material, which means struggling with it, and working through areas you don't understand independently, although do use the help and support that we do provide.

You will have opportunities in all your modules to fill in module evaluation forms to give the lecturer feedback on how you find their lectures, but if they are for example going too fast, you cannot hear them, or they are giving too much information at once, don't wait until these forms come round, talk to the lecturer, they won't bite! This year especially lecture delivery will be very different to previous years, and there are almost certainly going to be some hiccups along thew way, so please be patient!

On the other hand, in face to face lectures please treat your lecturer with respect, turn off mobile phones and don't talk all through the lecture. If you are busy talking or texting then you are not concentrating on the lecture and you might as well not be there; moreover you will be distracting other people sitting around you.

Every first year mathematics lecturer will provide weeky or fortnightly assignment sheets which typically contribute 15% of the module credit, and most of these are handed in to your Supervisor (see below), on an online portal, who will mark them and return them to you within a week or so. Note that if you miss the hand in deadline for one of these assignments you will get zero for it, even if you hand it in late (it will still be marked so you know how you did, but the mark will not count). This is because as soon as the deadline has passed solutions will start to be made available to supervisors and onwards to you.

In live events don't be afraid to put your hand up and ask questions during a lecture (as long as you're not doing so every 5 minutes), or ask questions in online chat windows that are there for that purpose. It can be quite daunting at first to ask a question amongst a lot of your peers, but if you don't understand something then the chances are that 90% of people in the room don't either.

Supervisions

In the first week you will be allocated, and meet, your "Supervisor". This is a 4th year MMath student, or a Postgraduate student, who you will meet either online, or face to face, for an hour a week along with the rest of your tutor group. They will mark your weekly assignments for you and go through the answers with you as well as give you help understanding the material you cover in the lectures. It is important that you attempt the assignments yourself and do not just copy someone else's. Apart from it being a discliplinary matter if you are caught, your assignments give your Supervisor feedback on what you are happy with and what you need help with. If you are ill and cannot attend a supervision or hand in an assignment please tell your supervisor, and in the latter case make sure you hand in medical evidence (e.g. a doctor's note) to the Undergraduate Office so that allowances can be made at the end of term.

Tutorials

You will also meet your Personal Tutor regularly, in term 1 this should be twice a week, and this gives you another opportunity to ask questions about lecture material as well as general chat about how things are going. Your Tutor is there to help you mathematically as well as with advice. You will also be carrying out some group projects with the rest of your tutor group which your Tutor will help guide you through.

University mathematics is very different to school maths, and requires practice and perseverance to really understand what's going on.

Books

All modules will come with recommended books. We do not expect you to go out and buy all of these, but if you are struggling with a particular module or want some more exercises then you should seriously consider buying some as with 300 students you cannot be guaranteed to find copies of all the books you want in the library. There are also resources on the web which are easy to find (Wikipedia or MathWorld for example) but be warned that some sites by not be entirely accurate so don't rely on them.

The aim for the first year is to gradually turn you all into independent learners. Do not expect to be spoon fed all the answers, but learn how to find out the answers for yourself.