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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. Mathematical modelling skills and practical skills will be gained by working on a variety of applied mathematical problems, experiments and computational problems.



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, etc.

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 their favourite problem. 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. Past topics have included the Fast Fourier Transform, eigenvalue problems, pre-conditioners, non-Newtonian fluids, etc. 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.

After students have chosen their research dissertation in the early part of semester 2, their supervisor will provide details of one or two important papers relevant to their that dissertation. The student should then study these in detail and write a report on their contents, giving for example a summary of a paper, describing their understanding of the work, describing necessary background material, putting the work in context, describing applications, discussing some simpler examples (e.g. by reducing the dimension of the problem). Codes could also be written, deriving appropriate results and giving examples. In some cases ideas for further work, possible extensions could be proposed.

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

  • Individual Poster presentation of one modelling problem: 30%
  • Paper/literature report: 25%
  • Modelling group talks: 30%
  • "How to write mathematics" assignment: 5%
  • Matlab short project: 5%
  • 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.
  • What is mathematical modelling? [1]  Describes the concept of mathematical modelling. Formulation of a problem in terms of mathematical language, writing down equations, what to neglect,
  • Modelling Problem 1 [7]  First modelling problem. Lecture given on background material followed by splitting into groups working on formulating the problem (or some aspect of the problem) mathematically and then trying to solve.
  • Modelling Problem 2 [7]
  • Modelling Problem 3 [7]
  • Invited industry lectures [6] (From various industrial collaborators). Lectures given by invited speakers on a topic of importance to them.


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

Feedback tutorials will provide an opportunity for students' work to be discussed and provide feedback on their understanding.  Coursework or in-class tests (where applicable) also provide an opportunity for students to receive feedback.  Students can also get feedback on their understanding directly from the lecturer, for example during the lecturer's office hour.  Feedback is also provided via return of marked coursework and presentation/poster evaluations.


Study hours

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

Teaching staff

Gareth Wyn Jones - Unit coordinator

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