This page has now been largely updated for 2018-2019
(Small changes will still occur)
Project registration opens on the first day of term.
For Maths-in-Action Projects: the themes are now finalised and can be found below. The procedure for assigning themes is also explained below. It is important that you spend some time exploring each theme before making your choices. Past experience shows that rushing into a choice based on title alone is a bad idea.
The fourth-year Project module comes in two flavours:
- MA4K9 Research (R-Projects): Essential for students intending to pursue further mathematical studies such as a PhD or other research degree. It is also highly recommended for students going on to careers (such as quantitative analysis in finance) in which developing mathematics will be a vital skill. Finally, it is for anyone wishing to experience the joy of mathematical study at the frontiers of research.
- MA4K8 Maths-in-Action (MiA-Projects): These projects are primarily aimed at those who seek to further develop their communication skills in speaking and writing. The projects involve understanding deeply how mathematics underpins a particular topic in the modern world and then communicating this understanding in the form of a presentation, a written popular science article, and a written scholarly report at the MMath level.
IMPORTANT: Please note the Important Dates sections below for the R-Projects and the MiA Projects. Deadlines must be strictly adhered to!
It is your responsibility to make sure you are registered for the correct version of the project on eMR!
In addition, all MMath students must register their project choice by midnight on
Project registration will open on the first day of term.
Aims: The primary aim of the Research Project is to give you experience of mathematics as it is pursued close to the frontiers of research, not just as a spectator sport but as an engaging, evolving activity in which you yourself can play a part.
Content: Before you register for a Research Project, you must first take the following steps:
- Find a member of staff willing to supervise you;
- Agree on a theme suited to your mathematical background and interests, and to your supervisor's expertise;
- Negotiate a title and brief for your project, and discuss its aims and objectives. It is normal for this to need renegotiating as the project evolves and final titles sometimes differ from the title originally registered;
- Discuss the criteria for assessment with your supervisor. This will normally be the standard criteria listed under `Assessment' below.
Project Supervisors and Themes: A list of the Research project themes offered by staff members can be found on the R-Projects Resource page.
If you have your own ideas about a theme for an R-project, feel free to ask any member of staff whether they would be willing to be your supervisor, but remember, staff are under no obligation to supervise an R-project, and are, in any case, discouraged from supervising more than two a year.
Assessment: The Research Projects are assessed on the basis of
- A short progress report in Term 2 (5% of the module credit)
- A written dissertation (80% of the module credit)
- An oral presentation and defence of dissertation (15% of the module credit)
The Progress Report must be signed by your supervisor and submitted to the Undergraduate Office by 2.00 p.m on Tuesday 15 January, 2019. The template for the report can be found on R-Projects Resource page. The short report consists of two sides of A4: one summarising progress to date and two stating the goals and target timetable for the remainder of the project. The summary of progress to date will typically consist of a list of identified sources (books, articles, etc) and specific accomplishments (material that has been read and digested, calculations that have been performed, theorems that have been proved, computer programmes that have been written, etc).
The Dissertation must be word-processed using Latex using the template provided on the R-Projects Resource page (unless you have specific permission from your supervisor to do otherwise). The main body of the dissertation should normally be about 30 pages (excluding the title page, table of contents and bibliography) and strictly no longer than 40 pages. If necessary, additional information may be included in the form of appendices. You must submit your dissertation to the Undergraduate Office by 2.00 p.m on Tuesday, 2 April 2019. If your dissertation does not satisfy these requirements, it may be returned to you and a resubmission required.
The Oral Presentation and Defence will take place on a designated day in Term 3 (typically set between April and Summer exams). Each candidate will be expected to give a prepared talk, lasting between 20 and 25 minutes, on the theme of their dissertation. After their talk, they will submit to questioning and discussion of their work with the staff members in the audience for a further 20 minutes or so; thus, for each student, the examination should normally last no more than 45 minutes. Whenever possible, R-Project candidates will be divided into small groups (of up to four students), in cognate areas of mathematics. Students are expected to attend all the talks in their group and should therefore set aside half a day for the process.
Below we summarise the standard criteria for assessing an R-Project dissertation and oral component. Examiners may give different weighting to the criteria or add further criteria to suit the features of a specific project brief. You are strongly advised to discuss assessment with your supervisor.
Assessment of the R-Project Dissertation
These are the standard criteria for assessing a dissertation; marks awarded on the basis of the dissertation may be modified in the light of evidence from the oral.
- The amount of work and effort undertaken: This might be evidenced by the breadth and depth of your reading and research in the literature, the organisation and presentation of the material, new skills you acquired (e.g. learning to program or to use a mathematical package such as Matlab, etc.), work on examples and calculations.
- The clarity and accuracy of the explanation and justification: Is your exposition of the material well directed at your target audience, easy to read, and logical? Does it have a good story to tell? Are your proofs comprehensive and mathematically correct?
- The level of the material and the depth of understanding: Is the intellectual content deep? Have you assimilated and understood it well, and also convinced the reader of this? Does your exposition carry the stamp of your ownership of the material?
- The quality of the scholarship: Is your written English concise, fluent, correctly spelt and grammatical? Is the quality of the word-processing good (well laid out and free of typos)? Is the mathematics typeset well (with suitable font styles and sizes and well-displayed expressions)? Are your sources reliable, and are they regularly cited (so that the reader can clearly distinguish your own contributions) and listed in a conventional bibliography at the end? Is the material well structured and sensibly numbered for cross-referencing?
- The degree of originality: Originality may be shown in a number of ways, for instance: in the way the material is organised; by making new connections between existing ideas or areas of knowledge; through a new proof or a generalisation of a known result, including perhaps relaxed hypotheses or a stronger conclusion; through the creation of examples that illustrate the theory or establish its limits of validity; by creative use of the library and the resources on the Web.
Assessment of the R-Project Oral Examination
Your mark for the oral examination will be based on the following:
- Your prepared talk: Your talk should be a succinct survey of your work. Your account can be informal and personal but it should (i) show clearly that you have a good knowledge and understanding of the subject and its context and (ii) take into account to the likely knowledge of the students attending your talk. You will be able to refer to notes and use the blackboard, and it might be an advantage to have your own copy of your dissertation with you.
- Your defence of your dissertation: After your talk the examiners may ask you questions about the material in your dissertation and you will be expected to engage in a general discussion about such things as your motivation for choosing the topic, any difficulties you met, and your ideas for taking the work further.
- Your background knowledge and understanding: You will be expected to know something about the background of your theme and its place in the broader scheme of things. The oral will be used to test the thoroughness of your understanding and to identify your own personal contributions as distinct from what is already in the public domain.
Research Project Important Dates: The dates below are strict and marks will be deducted for late submissions!
Aims: The broad aims are: to develop your ability to communicate mathematics to diverse audiences and to give you a deeper appreciation of how mathematics underpins the modern world. Doing a Maths-in-Action project will teach you the art of scholarship; it will help you to acquire a variety of presentation skills and improve your scientific word-processing. Fruitful collaboration is a valuable experience and you will have the opportunity to work cooperatively on a public oral presentation.
Content: The Maths-in-Action Projects will show how some of the mathematics you have learnt at Warwick affects contemporary life and technology. Themes for 2018/19 are:
Theme 1: Mathematics of Bitcoin
Theme 2: Mathematics of Traffic
Theme 3: Quantum Computing
Theme 4: Mathematics of Climate
Theme 5: Biological synchronisation: flocking, swarming, and schooling
Theme 6: Cardiac Arrhythmias
Theme 7: Mathematics of Evolution
It is important that you spend some time exploring each theme before making your choices. Past experience shows that rushing into a choice based on title alone is a bad idea.
Important! Each theme will be restricted to a limited number of takers. The system works as follows:
Theme registration opens on the first day of term. At the end of Week 1, theme assignments will be posted on the Maths-in-Action resources page. As long as no theme is fully subscribed, everyone will get their first choice. If, in Week 1 a theme is oversubscribed, then we will use the Matlab random number generator to select those getting that theme. The remainder will get their second choice.
After week 1, theme choices will be on a strict first come first served policy. Given the number of projects, the majority of students will get their first choice.
Support: The main support for the Maths-in-Action projects are:
- The Maths-in-Action Resources page describing how to get started and what to do next. It also is the main source of news and valuable information for the Maths-in-Action projects. You should consult this page frequently.
- A Project Guide containing advice on how to make good presentations and explaining the criteria that will be used in assessing your work.
- A Theme Guide describing each approved theme, defining the brief and listing some source materials.
(Both guides are available on the Maths-in-Action Resources page.)
In addition to the above:
- The organisers hold two open meetings for all Maths-in-Action project students in Term 1. At the meeting in Week 3 the organisers will discuss project details, offer advice and answer any questions. The meeting in Week 10 is primarily devoted to discussing progress reports and draft posters, but it is also a further opportunity to ask questions. A further opportunity for feedback and questions is provided in Term 2.
- Maths-in-Action projects are not supervised the way R-projects are. The organisers do not generally meet with students to discuss technical details of the projects. However, on occasion the organiser can discuss projects and offer advice on an individual basis. Send an email to the module organisers to start the discussion or to arrange an appointment.
Assessment: The Maths-in-Action Projects are assessed on:
- Scholarly Report and Viva (60% of the module credit).
- Popular Article (10% of the module credit).
- Presentation (20% of the module credit).
- Progress Report (5% of the module credit).
- Peer Assessment (5% of the module credit).
MiA Project Important Dates: The submission deadlines below are strict and marks will be deducted for late submissions!Further information about various submissions and meetings (including possibly additional open meetings) will be posted on the News Items on the Maths-in-Action Resources page. You should check it regularly.