Dissertation in Mathematics

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Andrew Lewis-Pye


This course is compulsory on the MSc in Applicable Mathematics. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

The Dissertation in Mathematics is an individual, substantial project as an introduction to mathematical research methods. The student will investigate and study an area of mathematical research or application of advanced mathematical techniques, and to write a report on their findings. The project may include some programming. The dissertation topic will normally be proposed by the Department.


A minimum of 15 hours of lectures/seminars across the Michaelmas and Lent terms. This year, some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of virtual classes and lectures delivered as online videos. The ratio of lecture time and seminar time varies each week. Seminars do not include personal supervision time, which is scheduled independently with student supervisors.

Several seminars will include presentations by members of the Department of Mathematics on proposed topics for dissertations that they would be interested in supervising. Additional seminars will cover important aspects of writing a dissertation in mathematics, including: what plagiarism is and how to avoid it, the use of libraries for research, electronic research, general aspects of writing mathematics, and preparing a manuscript using mathematical text processing software (in particular, LaTeX). Each student will be assigned a supervisor who will monitor their progress and provide appropriate guidance thorough the LT, ST, and over the summer.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce an initial report (in LT) and an interim report (in ST) for which feedback will be provided.

Indicative reading

Detailed suggestions for reading will be provided by the supervisor.


Dissertation (90%) in the LT and ST.
Oral examination (10%) in the ST.

Assessment is primarily based entirely on the Dissertation, three hard copies and one electronic copy of which must be submitted by early September (exact date to be specified later). The report may include some software relating to the project. Detailed information about the required format for this submission will be provided during the Seminars.

At the end of summer term, each student will give a presentation to an audience of two members of staff on the topic of their dissertations. If restrictions mean that presentations cannot be given in person this year, then they will be recorded and uploaded for assessment. The presentation will be graded and worth 10% of the course grade. Students will be given support in the seminars on how to prepare, how to present and what is expected.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Mathematics

Total students 2019/20: 40

Average class size 2019/20: 40

Controlled access 2019/20: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills