Incoming Mathematics Students Induction
Congratulations on obtaining a place at the Mathematics Department here at the University of Warwick! We look forward to welcoming you in September. In the meantime the pages contained here will help you understand what you should be doing before you arrive, and what you will need to do during your first weeks here. During Welcome Week, the first session will be on Wednesday 26th September, at 10am, in the Zeeman Building, MS02. Please try to arrive early so we can start promptly.
You do not need to register for any modules yet; you can prepare by looking at the available options if you'd like, but you can wait until you arrive before registering, and registrations are not binding initially. The first induction meeting will explain how to choose your modules.
Before you arrive you may want to do some reading to get you up and running. You may also want to find our who your Personal Tutor will be and where to find them straight after your Induction Session on the first day.
There will be a further induction session on Friday of the first week once you have all settled in a bit.
Your First Weeks
- Who does what? Where to find help?
- Choosing your modules
- The Diagnostic Tests
- What to bring with you
- How do lectures work?
- Ask a question: the new maths students forum
- Quiz: are you ready to go?
Schedule for Welcome Week and Week 1
- The Maths Staff Student Liaison Committee (SSLC)
- Warwick Bookshop
- Where are the lecture rooms?
- Tabula (including your timetable)
- Online Module Registration
- Online Undergraduate Handbook
- Department Twitter feed
- Department maps: Ground Floor | 1st Floor | 2nd Floor | 3rd Floor
Where to ask questions or find answers before arriving?
Who Is My Supervisor?
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Your First Week
Who Does What? Where to find Help?
Online Undergraduate Handbook
Information is available through the online Undergraduate Handbook, these pages contain basic information about all the course regulations, module descriptions, and things you should be doing. If you have a question regarding your degree these are the first place you should look before you ask anyone else in the department. By the start of term there will be a pdf snapshot available to download, but note that the online version will always be the most up to date instance.
The Undergraduate Office is your destination for most of your day to day needs in the department. It is where you can buy printed lecture notes and for general enquiries regarding modules and registrations. They do not deal with more general University issues such as fees or residences, questions on these should be directed elsewhere. If you have an urgent problem and cannot find your personal tutor you should also start here to get help. On the wall outside the office you will find racks containing various forms for Unusual Options, Changing Course, or Self Certification forms for illness. All of these forms should be handed in to the Undergraduate Office once you have the neccessary signatures (they will then pass them on to the Director of Undergraduate Studies for his signature). They will also make sure that there are copies of assignment sheets and handouts that have been distributed in lectures. They are all very happy to help, but please bear in mind that at certain times in the day they will be very busy so if it's not urgent try to time your visit to miss busy periods.
Your personal tutor is a member of academic staff who is there as a first port of call for problems. They can give you advice on module choices, help with problems you are having with lecture material and should be the first person you see if you are having other difficulties including problems that are affecting your ability to continue your studies. You will see your tutor regularly in your tutor group with other students, but they will also make themselves available to see tutees individually if it is needed through "office hours" or asking you to sign up for meetings on schedules outside their office. They may not always be able to help, but in that case can tell you where to go to get the help you need.
Your Supervisor is a 4th year MMath student or a Postgraduate student who you will meet with twice a week in the same group as for tutorials. They have already been through the first year of a maths degree so know what you are going through and have a good understanding of the material, but some may be teaching for the first time so it is a learning experience for all of you. If you feel that the supervisions aren't helping you as much as they could then discuss this with your Supervisor... they want to help you and the Supervisions are for your benefit.
Professor Roman Kotecky
The Senior Tutor is responsible for the Tutorial system, and is there to help students with serious pastoral problems. If your tutor, or the Undergraduate Office, think that you are having problems and need help they will refer you to the Senior Tutor. Depending on the situation a chat might be all that's needed, or help can be provided either within the department or through the Student Support Services. In extreme circumstances it may be possible to take "temporary withdrawal" to allow students to recover from a medical problem or serious extenuating circumstances, or occasionally students are given help to change degree. If you have a problem, don't just sit on it and hope things get better but seek help.
Director of Undergraduate Studies
Dr. David Wood
The Director of Undergraduate Studies is responsible for all things to do with the Undergraduate teaching in the department from regulations to teaching assistants in Support Classes. In the first week you will see him quite a lot, he is responsible for the initial Induction sessions, and Supervisions. As with the Senior Tutor if you have a problem that needs his help you will be referred to him through either your Personal Tutor or the Undergraduate Office. A lot of his work also overlaps with that of the Senior Tutor so you may find that you are getting help from both if you are struggling for whatever reason. The Director of Undergraduate Studies is ultimately responsible for authorising module choices including Unusual Options and change of degree (most commonly between the 3 year BSc. and the MMath), but mostly he will not need to see you personally and forms should be returned to the Undergraduate Office who will then pass them on to him to sign (although you should get all the other necessary signatures before handing them in).
Head of Department
Prof. John Greenlees
Apart from the Welcome Session during Welcome Week, unless he is your Personal Tutor, it is unlikely you will need to see the Head of Department in your first year, but rest assured he is looking after the department to make sure everyone is happy!
Deputy Head of Department (Teaching)
Prof. Gavin Brown
Apart from being involved in the induction sessions in Welcome Week, much of his involvement in the degree for first years will also be in the background, but you may see his name occasionally.
The Student Staff Liaison Committee
The SSLC is an elected committee of mathematics students who meet twice a term to discuss problems for students in the department with academic staff in attendance... there will be elections for first year representatives in the first couple of weeks of term, but you will be able to contact some members early on if there are problems that you would like to bring to their attention (they have a noticeboard outside the computer rooms in the Zeeman Building). They discuss library issues, building issues, general problems with lectures etc. and are consulted over proposed changes to the mathematics degrees.
Module Choice Term 1
Detailed descriptions on module choices and regulations can be found in the Online Handbook. Descriptions of the options available to you can be found from links on the right hand side of these pages. This page is intended to be a quick guide to get you started in the first week.
Each module has a CAT weighting, for first years most 10 week modules will be 12 CATS, and 5 week modules 6 CATS. The normal load is 120 CATS, and maximum number of CATS you can take is 150. You must do at least the normal load of 120 CATS, if you do more than that then you get some extra credit for tackling a heavier workload. Most first years will do around 132 CATS, or on average take on an extra module over the normal load, if you are thinking of taking any more than that you should discuss it with your Personal Tutor. This flexibility in module choice is one of the most attractive features of the degree but should be used with care.
In the first year you must take all the core modules (totalling 96 CATS) and then make up the rest with modules from List A (these are modules we recommend you take to keep your options most open) or List B (mainly options from other departments such as Physics, Economics, Stats) or you can take any other module as an "Unusual Option". Unusual Options need to be approved by the department, you fill in a form, collect signatures, and hand it in to the Undergraduate Office. You are not guaranteed to be allowed to take these, so get the form in early. The only exceptions are Languages that don't need a form to be filled in.
First Term Modules
In the first term, which is what you need to be concerned about now, the core modules are:
- MA133 Differential Equations 12 CATS
- MA131 Analysis 24 CATS (continues into Term 2)
- MA132 Foundations 12 CATS
- MA136 Abstract Algebra 6 CATS
(Maths Economics students also need to take EC107 Economics I 24 CATS, and those interested in perhaps transferring to Maths and Philosophy are recommended to take PH144 Mind and Reality 15 CATS)
The only List A module is:
- MA125 Introduction to Geometry 6 CATS (starts week 1)
Common List B modules include:
- PX148 Classical Mechanics and Relativity 12 CATS
- EC106 Introduction to Quantitative Economics 24 CATS (not Maths Economics students)
- ST104 Statistical Laboratory I 12 CATS
The first two letters of the module codes denote the department which is responsible for that module, so MA denotes the Maths Department, ST Statistics, PX Physics and so on.
No one is taking a register at lectures, if a module looks like it might be interesting then go along to the first few lectures, if you don't like it then stop going, if you do like it then make sure you register for it on the Online Module Registration system. It is usual to spend the first couple of weeks of terms 1 and 2 going to far too many lectures and then settling down to something sensible.
Lectures and Learning
Most of your modules will be taught in lectures, and in the first year most will be large lectures of approximately 300 students. The main exception to this rule is MA131 Analysis I which is taught in small classes of approximately 30 students.
The format of these lectures, and how they are delivered, will vary depending on the lecturer. Some will provide printed lecture notes at the start of the module which you can annotate during the lecture, the majority will expect you to copy down notes from the blackboards (although some of them will also provide printed lecture notes at the end of the module). 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.
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 or you cannot hear them don't wait until these forms come round, talk to the lecturer, they won't bite! On the other hand 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) via the Supervisors Pigeon Loft 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).
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 for an hour twice 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.
You will also meet your Personal Tutor regularly, 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.
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.
What to bring with you
Unlike some other subjects, mathematics is a subject where you need to bring very little with you!
Every module will have recommended books, and you should plan to buy at least some in your first year rather than rely on the library for all of them. The downside is that maths books tend to be expensive (typically 30 to 40 pounds from new) but we will try to recommend reasonably priced ones. You can also look out for second hand books being sold on campus (many second years will be trying to sell their first year books) or online sources such as the Amazon Marketplace are good places to look. Most modules will provde printed lecture notes for cost price from the Undergraduate Office (2 to 3 pounds) which you may find are sufficient for many of the topics you will study. You may find it useful to bring your old A-level books and notes with you too for reference.
Surprisingly perhaps, a calculator will be of minimal use on the maths degree! As you progress the mathematics you learn will become more and more abstract and you will find that the main use for a calculator is adding up how much money you've got left to spend on the weekly shop. Calculators are not allowed in tests and exams from the mathematics department, and exams from other departments will not allow calculators that are programmable, have more than two lines output or with a graphical output. So the rule is do bring a calculator, but don't think you need to spend a lot of money on a fancy one.
Bringing a computer with you is not essential. There is a minimal amount of computing involved in the first year syllabus, but the University has an abundance of PCs around the campus for which you will have a login code before you even arrive here. If you do bring a laptop or tablet then there are Hotspots around the University which will let you log in wirelessly and every accomodation room on campus should have a network point. Please do not use laptops in lectures unless you have a medical reason for doing so, it is distracting for other students and to the lecturer. Also follow the advice on the IT Services pages, bring a security cable with you and make sure that it is insured!
Mathematics at university concentrates more on how mathematics uses abstraction and proof and less on the techniques that you met at A-level. However, skill and accuracy in the use of these techniques is essential, and it should be an important aim to make sure that you can use these techniques well. In the past we have held a test ("Diagnostic Test") in the first week, but we no longer do this. Instead, before you arrive, there are online versions of the tests for you to attempt. We will not use the result of the tests when you try them, but they are designed to make sure you are ready to start your degree, and so you should attempt them all. If you do not score very highly then it suggests a gap in your preparation and you should do some background reading to get those skills back again.
There are three topics: Differentiation, Integration and Trigonometry.
We expect you to be able to differentiate typical functions such as polynomials and trigonometric functions, find the turning points and type for simple functions and be comfortable with differentiating quotients and their products.
We expect you to be confident integrating standard functions such as polynomials and trigonometric functions both leaving a constant of integration and integrating between limits. This extends to working out the area under a graph and between two graphs, and determining the limits to integrate between. We also expect you to be able to "integrate by parts" which is not always covered at school, so you should look up how to do this and practise.
We expect you to be familiar with standard trig identities such as double angle formulae and product and sum formulae, and be able to use them to solve equalities in fixed ranges. You should not use a calculator or formulae book, it is essential that you know your formulae off by heart.
If you cannot pass these tests then you will struggle to follow logical arguments in many of your lectures, which is why we expect you to be able to solve such problems quickly and accurately.
NOTE: If you are enrolled but still cannot access these tests with your new login please be patient, it may take a few days for the system to update.
NOTE 2: this is not the Diagnostic Test that Stats students (Math/Stats and MORSE) are required to complete, that can be found at this location.
Quiz - Are you ready for the first week?
All the questions below you should be able to find out the answers for online (before you arrive) by reading the Induction pages and following the links, although you may need your University log in details before you can find out all of it (such as your timetable). Good luck!