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Transferable Skills for Applied Mathematicians

Unit code: MATH65740
Credit Rating: 15
Unit level: Level 6
Teaching period(s): Full year
Offered by School of Mathematics
Available as a free choice unit?: N




To provide the soft skills that are useful and necessary in the working environment, both in industry and academia. In particular, presentation, writing, communication and teamwork skills will be developed. Mathematical modelling skills and practical skills will be gained by working on a variety of applied mathematical case studies.



Note that this course takes place over TWO semesters.

Hours shown below are contact hours; note that significant work is required outside of these contact hours in order to complete the necessary assignments.

Initially students will be taught some essential skills deemed necessary for applied mathematicians. The typesetting language LaTeX will be described and a short course on the programming language Matlab will be taught and discussed with students carrying out a practical example.

A significant proportion of the module will involve working in groups on mathematical modelling problems. Typically these problems will involve one lecture of background material and description of the problem to be modelled. Contact time is then used to work in groups in order to attempt to formulate the problem in mathematical language, do background reading, and then solve the problem by whatever techniques are necessary. In the final session, groups will present their work via a short 15–20 minute presentation. Three modelling problems will be worked on over the duration of the course and students will be assessed on their presentations for each modelling problem. In addition, students will prepare a poster describing one of these problems, including some original work. They will present this poster and describe its contents in Semester 2.

Speakers invited from industrial collaborators will give lectures focusing on specific aspects of importance to them in their work. Students will have an opportunity to discuss the mathematics used with the industrial contacts. At the end of each semester, students will write a short abstract of an industrial lecture of the unit coordinator’s choosing, summarising the content in a form suitable for a general audience.

There will be a taught session in Semester 1 discussing ideas for enhancing students’ writing skills in a mathematical context. Following this, the student will write a 7–10 page literature review on a topic chosen from a list of mathematical research areas. The review should concentrate on one or two aspects of the area but should evaluate and critically compare the existing models, techniques, or algorithms (as appropriate).

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this course unit students will be able to: 

  • Develop mathematical models of real-world problems and provide examples of their application in industry and academic research.
  • Communicate technical results clearly and effectively in oral presentations and posters.
  • Demonstrate the ability to work collaboratively in a team.
  • Integrate and evaluate information from a variety of sources and communicate them effectively in a written report.
  • Build simple computer programs using Matlab.
  • Employ LaTeX to compose technical mathematical reports


Assessment Further Information

  • “How to write mathematics” assignment: 5%
  • Matlab short project: 5%
  • Modelling group talks: 30%
  • Literature review: 25%
  • Individual Poster presentation of one modelling problem: 30%
  • Short lecture abstracts: 5%



  • How to write mathematics [4] Lectures on how to present and write mathematics effectvely. Students will work through a practical example in LaTeX.
  • Matlab modelling classes [4] Practical classes introducing the programming language Matlab, with an assignment set at the end.
  • Teaching sessions on mathematical modelling, poster presentations, and writing skills, taught throughout the year. [4]
  • Modelling Problem 1 [7]
  • Modelling Problem 2 [7]
  • Modelling Problem 3 [7]
  • Invited industry lectures [5] (From various industrial collaborators). Lectures given by invited speakers on a topic of importance to them.
  • Poster presentation event [2]


Recommended reading

  • Handbook of Writing for the Mathematical Sciences, Second Edition, Nicholas J. Higham, SIAM, 1998
  • Learning LaTeX, David F. Griffiths and Desmond J. Higham, SIAM, 1997
  • LaTeX: A Document Preparation System, Second Edition, Leslie Lamport, Addison-Wesley Professional, 1994
  • Mathematical Modelling, Jagat Narain Kapur, New Age International Publishers, 1997
  • Mathematical modelling: classroom notes in applied mathematics, Murray S. Klamkin, SIAM, 1987
  • Mathematical modelling, John S. Berry and Ken Houston, Edward Arnold, 1995



Feedback methods

Assignments whether written, oral, or poster will be marked and the feedback comments returned to students in a timely manner. Further opportunities for discussion of students’ understanding exist in the scheduled sessions, or with the unit coordinator directly.



Study hours

  • Lectures - 36 hours
  • Independent study hours - 114 hours

Teaching staff

Geoffrey Evatt - Unit coordinator

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