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BA/BSc and MMath final-year project

Course category: 
3rd year
Module code: 
Dr Gustav W Delius

Note: there are separate modules for the BA/BSc projects (module code 0530999 40 credits) and for the MMath projects (module code 0540499 40 credits) which differ in the level of the mathematics involved but share the same aims and the same procedures and are therefore described together on this page.

Computer Science and Mathematics final year students who have already taken the Computer Science project in their 3rd year take the Project MMath (module code 0540520, 30 credits) which is similar to the MMath project described here but which does not involve attendance at the Autumn and Spring term lectures and practical sessions, as this material has been covered in the Computer Science Department in your third year.


To develop your ability to carry out an independent investigation of a mathematical topic and to present a clear account of your findings.

Choice of project topic

You can choose the mathematical topic that you want to investigate in your project. You can either make a selection from a list of suggestions for project topics or come up with a topic of your own. You should choose a topic that interests you and that allows you to demonstrate your independent research skills. Topics that are already well treated in textbooks or popular articles may make it difficult for you to do something original or to demonstrate your skills in researching information yourself. A successful project on such a topic would need to demonstrate your powers of analysis and presentation of the material.

The mathematics in your project should be at a level comparable to that of other 3rd year modules for BA/BSc projects and other 4th year modules for MMath projects.

If you have your own idea for a project you need to find a project supervisor for it. If you do not know which member of staff to approach you could initially talk to your personal supervisor who may be able to suggest a suitable member of staff. Once a member of staff has agreed to act as your project supervisor, you and your supervisor will need to draw up a brief project description and email it to the project organiser, Dr Gustav Delius.

If you would like to do a project from the list of suggested project topics, you need to submit a rank-ordered list of four choices using the project choice form that will be made available on Moodle at the end of the summer term of your penultimate year. The reason you need to submit 4 choices is that your top choices may not be available, either because other students have chosen the same topic or because the supervisor is oversubscribed. Project topics will be allocated in such a way that as many students as possible get a topic which is high on their list of choices.

The list of suggested project topics for 2012/13 will become available in week 8 of the summer term. However to get an impression of the types of topics you can look at the list for 2011/12.

Project choices that are submitted by the end of Monday of week 10 of the summer term will, in most cases, be allocated before the end of that term so that you can start reading about your project over the summer if you wish. All project choices must be submitted by the end of week 1 of the autumn term.

Teaching and Support Teaching

This is a 40 credit module, so you should expect to be spending about 400 hours working on the project. In the Autumn and Spring terms you will have lectures and computer practical classes that will teach research and presentation skills. There will be several assignments on this material; your marks on these will contribute 10% to your total for the module. Most of your independent research work on your project should take place in the autumn and spring terms.  How you distribute the work over the two terms is up to you.

Throughout your work on the project your supervisor will be available to provide guidance and advice. You should schedule supervision meetings directly with your project supervisor. The first meeting should take place at the beginning of the autumn term. Supervision may take place via email, for example if your supervisor is away for research purposes. The amount of supervision necessary will depend on your independence and on your chosen topic. The approximate total time taken by the meetings with your project supervisor will usually not exceed 4 hours.

In the Easter vacation of the third year you should finish writing a first draft of the project report which you must give to your supervisor for comments at the start of the summer term. The draft will not be used for assessment. You will revise your project report in the light of your supervisor's comments and submit the final version on Monday of week 4 of the summer term. You will also prepare a presentation of your project to take place later in the summer term. This takes the form of a poster if you are a BA/BSc student or an oral presentation if you are an MMath student.


Coursework 10%, Project report 80%, Poster (BA/BSc) or oral (MMath) presentation 10%. 

(Please note that the 30 credit Project MMath for Computer Science/Mathematics final years does not include the coursework component and the assessment for that module will be: Project report 90%, oral presentation 10%.)

All work submitted must represent your own individual effort. Of course you are permitted and indeed encouraged to discuss your work with others and get inspiration from them, but if you use any one else's ideas in your project you must acknowledge that by properly citing the source. Failing to do so constitutes academic misconduct, see University Regulation 5.4 (a) (v) and the departmental Policies and Practices for Undergraduates (part of the Undergraduate Handbook).

Work submitted late will be penalised at a rate of 10% of the available marks per day (or part thereof) that it is late (including weekends), up to a maximum of 5 days, after which it will be given a mark of zero. 
An MMath candidate who fails to give an oral presentation or a BSc candidate who fails to present a poster at the scheduled time will be awarded a mark of zero for the presentation.

Project report

We expect all project reports to be written using the LaTeX computer typesetting system, which provides access to every conceivable mathematical symbol and font, and permits you to create all manner of mathematical expressions and formulas, no matter how complicated. LaTeX will be taught during the module. A typical project report, mainly expository in nature, should be about 25 to 35 A4 pages long when presented in LaTeX (12 point fonts with margins). However, projects which contain a substantial number of computer programs and accompanying documentation, or which contain many tables and diagrams, will probably be longer.

The final report must be handed in to the departmental office, printed on A4 paper, unbound. In addition you need to submit an electronic copy in pdf format on Moodle. The electronic copy should be identical to the paper version and thus must contain all figures, tables, etc. The report must be submitted in both paper and electronic form by noon on Monday of Week 4. Late submission will normally only be authorized in cases of illness. Late submission without authorization will be penalized by a progressive deduction of marks: 10% of the total available marks will be deducted for each day (or part thereof) ; the timing will be from midday to midday and it is the date by which both the electronic and the paper copy have arrived that is relevant. Zero marks will be awarded for reports handed in more than 5 days late. Reports can be handed in only during office hours.

The guidelines for the marking of project reports are available on our website.

BA/BSc poster presentation

Towards the end of the summer term, after the end of the exam period, there will be a poster fair where you will present aspects of your projects. Guidance on preparing and presenting a poster will be given during the module.

MMath oral presentation

MMath students will give a 15 minute oral presentation about a topic related to their project, rather than a poster. These talks will take place in parallel to the poster session. Training on how to give a talk will be given during the module.

Recommended texts

Departmental web pages about LaTeX and the resources listed there.

Writing Mathematics:

  1. L Gillman, Writing Mathematics Well: a manual for authors, MAA (S 0.149 GIL).
  2. N J Higham, Handbook of Writing for the Mathematical Sciences, SIAM. (S 0.149 HIG).
  3. E E Knuth, T Larrabee and P M Roberts, Mathematical Writing, MAA (S0.249 KNU).
  4. S G Krantz, A Primer of Mathematical Writing, American Mathematical Society (S 0.149 KRA).

Elective Information

This module is not available as an elective.

Edited 7 Jan 2013 - 20:00 by admin

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