Online Teaching and Learning
MSc in Mathematical Finance
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ONLINE TEACHING AND LEARNING
During the Certificate and Diploma stages each student is assigned to a personal tutor, with whom they are meeting during 1-to-1 online tutorials to discuss the material covered in all the modules taken by the student during the current stage. The tutor is also responsible, jointly with module lecturers, for marking the work submitted by the student.
1-to-1 Online Tutorials
"Oxbridge style" 1-to-1 online tutorials are at the core of the teaching and learning strategy for this distance learning programme.
The 1-to-1 tutorials are conducted over the Internet using voice (and video whenever desired), screen sharing and handwriting facilities (by means of a tablet attachment, digital pen or tablet computer) to facilitate communication in the symbolic language of mathematics. The software keeps record of all written (including handwritten) communication exchanged during the sessions for later reference by students and tutors.
During the Certificate and Diploma stages each student attends 10 one-hour 1-to-1 online tutorials scheduled at regular intervals. During the Dissertation stage there are 6 one-hour 1-to-1 tutorials, and six readings of dissertation drafts between the meetings, with detailed comments provided in writing. The last tutorial at the end of each stage of the programme is devoted in part to an online viva.
A major advantage of 1-to-1 tutorials is that students have the undivided attention of their personal tutor and receive personalised feedback and support, tailored to their individual needs. Students attending 1-to-1 tutorials are strongly motivated to prepare thoroughly for each meeting, facilitating an intensive learning process.
1-to-1 tutorials also allow for some flexibility of scheduling, very important for distance learners and particularly for people with substantial time commitments during the working week or who live in different time zones.
Interactive Presentations on CDs/DVDs
The contents of each taught module are delivered by means of hyperlinked interactive presentations recorded on CDs or DVDs (or downloadable via the Internet) in lieu of lectures, which include spoken commentary and demonstrations to illustrate the material. Please examine the Presentation Sample.
Support by Lecturers
Each taught module is supported by a lecturer, usually the main author of the CD/DVD presentation, taking overall responsibility for the module (similar to a lecturer for a traditional campus-based course). The module leader's role is to provide email support to students and personal tutors, to moderate and animate the discussion forum associated with the module, to maintain and update the module materials in the Virtual Learning Environment, to prepare exercises and solutions, set questions for assessed work, to oversee the marking of assessed work, and the like.
Before the start of the Dissertation stage students are provided with a list of topics complete with brief descriptions to choose from, and are assigned to a dissertation advisor. Students are also welcome to propose their own topic, subject to approval by the Programme Director and subject to finding a dissertation advisor willing to oversee the proposed topic.
The dissertation topics are unique for each student, and are typically based on recent publications in leading journals or preprints by leading researchers in the field of mathematical/quantitative finance.
During the Dissertation stage students submit 6 drafts and received detailed written feedback. There are 6 one-hour 1-to-1 online meetings with the dissertation supervisor scheduled at regular intervals in order to discuss the drafts and written feedback, review progress, and provide advice on any problems encountered. At the end of the Dissertation stage students submit their MSc dissertation for assessment, which is followed by a recorded online viva.
There are no strict rules as to the length of the dissertation (the average length is about 50 pages, with standard deviation of 30). What the examiners are looking for is not necessarily volume but mathematical substance and evidence of professional maturity. Original research results, while laudable, are not required, but students need to demonstrate their ability to understand and critically analyse current literature and, where relevant to the topic, the ability to implement the results and methods on a computer.
Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)
The online programme uses a web-based Virtual Learning Environment, shared with the whole Mathematics Department, to post teaching materials, announcements, exchanging messages between participants, provide discussion and news forums, upload assignments, assessed coursework and feedback, and much more.
Apart from supporting for the online programme, the VLE also gives access to the wider community of staff and students in the Mathematics Department.
It is very important that distance learners can communicate, collaborate and exchange ideas and experiences. This is facilitated by an asynchronous discussion and news forum associated with each module, provided within the VLE and moderated by the lecturers. A dedicated discussion and news forum will be devoted to issues concerning the online programme as a whole.
Online taught modules are assessed by means of 4 coursework assignments per module, submitted at regular intervals throughout the teaching period, and a recorded online viva at the end of the Certificate and Diploma stages of the programme.
There is also a recorded online viva at the end of the Dissertation stage, with the written dissertation refereed and marked by an internal and an external examiner.
Each student is assigned to a personal supervisor, normally for the entire degree programme. The personal supervisor's role is primarily to provide pastoral support and to advise on general matters.
Advice and study support in individual taught modules is delivered by the tutors and lecturers, and in the case of the dissertation by the dissertation advisors.
Administrative support is provided by the departmental Postgraduate Administrator.
The departmental Computer Officer is on hand to help with computer and VLE issues.
Admissions matters are dealt with by the Postgraduate Administrator and Admissions Tutor.
Online students have email and internet telephony access to all relevant staff members. Ad hoc online meetings can be arranged as required. The VLE is used to disseminate and distribute information.
The University Library offers a dedicated service for distance learners, see Library Services for Distance Learners.
The Programme Director has overall responsibility for the MSc in Mathematical Finance by Online Distance Learning and can deal with any queries and problems that cannot be resolved otherwise.
Department of Mathematics, University of York, Heslington, York, UK. YO10 5DD