MA334      Half Unit
Dissertation in Mathematics

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Graham Brightwell


This course is available on the BSc in Mathematics and Economics and BSc in Mathematics with Economics. This course is not available as an outside option nor to General Course students.

This course cannot be taken with MA324 Mathematical Modelling and Simulation.


Students must have completed Real Analysis (MA203).

This course requires a high degree of independence and commitment from the student, and has to be completed on time by the end of LT. The expected workload is high but also rewarding, and is completed by the end of LT (no exam). Some dissertation topics might require additional pre-requisites which will be specified in the description of the topic provided by the member of staff supervising the dissertation.

Course content

The dissertation in mathematics is an individual project that serves as an introduction to mathematical research. The student will investigate and study an area of mathematical research or apply advanced mathematical techniques to model and solve problems arising in other areas related to the student’s degree programme (e.g., in finance or economics). The student will write a report on their findings and present and discuss their findings in an oral examination. The project may include some programming. The dissertation topic will normally be proposed by the Department.


5 hours of seminars in the MT. 4 hours of seminars in the LT.

This course is delivered through seminars and computer workshops that total a minimum of 10 hours across Michaelmas and Lent Term, which give general and practical information, plus personal supervision time, which is scheduled independently with student supervisors. The seminars in MT 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, managing a research project and the writing up process. The computer workshops in MT will provide guidance on preparing a manuscript using mathematical text processing software (in particular, LaTeX).The seminars in LT will cover how to give a presentation about the findings in the dissertation and how to prepare for the oral examination. Each student will be assigned a supervisor who will monitor their progress and provide appropriate guidance thorough the MT and LT. Normally students will have three individual supervision meetings each term.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 presentation and 1 other piece of coursework in the LT.

Indicative reading

This will depend on the topic of the dissertation. Students will be guided by their supervisor. 


Dissertation (75%) in the LT Week 10.
Presentation (25%) in the LT Week 11.

Assessment is based on the dissertation and an oral examination.

Three hard copies and one electronic copy of the dissertation must be submitted by week 10 of Lent Term.The report may include some computer code relating to the project. The dissertation excluding the bibliography must not exceed 20 pages of A4 paper, where the dissertation is required to have 1.5 line spacing at a minimum (at most 33 lines of text/mathematical formulae per page), 11-point font and 1-inch margins all around. If the dissertation contains any computer code this should be placed in the appendix of the dissertation and does not count towards the page limit.

The oral examination consists of a 15-minute presentation to an audience of two members of staff on the main findings contained in the dissertation. This will be graded and worth 25% of the course grade. Students will be given support in the seminars on how to prepare, how to present, and what is expected.

Key facts

Department: Mathematics

Total students 2021/22: 10

Average class size 2021/22: 10

Capped 2021/22: Yes (15)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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Personal development skills

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