William Parnell

Professor of Applied Mathematics

William Parnell

The course units are taught by leaders in their field who can link the material with exciting, current research problems.


How do you make sure that the course is up-to-date and relevant? What have you had to update this year?

This Masters course began in 2012. We felt that applied maths students needed a course that provides a relatively broad training in applied mathematics but also one that gives important skills for entry into a research career or industry.

The course units are taught by leaders in their field who can link the material with exciting, current research problems. Furthermore, the course has very strong links with industry and the tasks set for dissertations are set by our insdustrial partners, ensuring that the problems are up-to-date and very relevant to the real world. 

What kind of balance do you strike between teaching facts and developing skills?

The course has a challenging applied mathematical content and it is important for students to understand, apply and extend the material that is taught. We encourage a variety of transferable skills to be developed throughout the course by doing mathematics in a variety of ways.

We encourage group work via mathematical modelling sessions, writing mathematics effectively, communication through oral presentations and preparation of posters, which motivates a concise presentation of material. Once again, the engagement with industry encourages this aspect. So, the balance between facts and skills is enhanced by developing the skills simultaneously with learning techniques and solving problems.  

How does research feed into the syllabus?

Leading researchers are teaching this courseand therefore can motivate work with important research problems. Dissertations are intended to be research focused, with industry problems being current, important problems to industry.

How do you make sure that the course meets the needs of industry and business?

As course director I work with several industrial collaborators so I am used to dealing with industrial organisations. Our School also has an excellent record of dealing with industry. In the first year alone we have links with eight different industrial organisations of varying size, each providing at least one sponsored dissertation. Three companies are invited to give lectures to the students. Students’ interaction ensures they understand the needs of industry. The links also provide opportunity for internships and employment.

What are the course highlights for you?

For me, the highlights include an excellent training in applied mathematics, developing the students transferable skills, and links with industry, enabling sponsorship, internships, opportunities for employment and many other advantages

Why do graduates from your course stand out in the job market?

Graduates will learn key advanced technical skills whilst simultaneously develop important transferable skills. Furthermore their interaction with industry ensures that they understand its needs in advance of employment.

What distinguishes this course from similar ones in other institutions?

The broad training in applied maths, the stress on transferable skills and we would argue perhaps the best links with industry for an MSc in Applied Mathematics in the country including significant sponsorship for strong students.

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