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Lectures and Learning

Lectures

Lecture in progressMost 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).

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). It can be quite daunting at first to ask a question in a large lecture theatre, 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 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.

Tutorials

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.

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.