MA315      Half Unit
Algebra and its Applications

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Martin Anthony


This course is available on the BSc in Business Mathematics and Statistics, BSc in Mathematics and Economics, BSc in Mathematics with Economics and BSc in Mathematics, Statistics and Business. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.


MA103 Introduction to Abstract Mathematics and MA211 Algebra and Number Theory are essential pre-requisites.

Course content

The aim of the course is to continue the study of abstract algebraic structures and show how these structures can be used to solve concrete problems. There are three strands: Group actions; Rings, polynomials and fields; Applications, including coding and cryptography. Group actions; revision of permutation groups; orbits and stabilizers, the orbit-stabilizer theorem; applications to counting problems. Rings, polynomials and fields: revision of rings; quotient rings; polynomial rings and the Euclidean algorithm for polynomials; irreducible polynomials and factorisation of polynomials. fields; fields as quotients of polynomial rings; construction and properties of finite fields: Applications: Designs and orthogonal latin squares ; Error-correcting codes, including linear codes, cyclic codes and perfect codes; cryptography.


This course is delivered through a combination of classes and lectures totalling a minimum of 30 hours across Lent Term. This year, apart from pre-recorded lecture videos, there will be a weekly live online session of an hour. Depending on circumstances, classes might be online.

Formative coursework

Written answers to set problems will be expected on a weekly basis.

Indicative reading

Lecture notes will be provided. No additional reading is required, but the following books are recommended for further reading.

Introduction to Algebra, Peter J Cameron (OUP 2007);

Codes, N.L. Biggs (Springer, 2008).


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the summer exam period.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 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 differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching 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 2020/21: 10

Average class size 2020/21: 8

Capped 2020/21: No

Value: Half 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