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Mathematical Skills II: Programming & Recent Advances - MAT00027I

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  • Department: Mathematics
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Henning Bostelmann
  • Credit value: 10 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2018-19

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2018-19 to Summer Term 2018-19

Module aims

The skills thread through the programme is designed to help students integrate into the life of the department and find out what it means to be a mathematician early on in their time at York, and then maintain that idea of being part of the wider community throughout their time with us. The programming in the first part of this module will introduce students, in a mathematical context, to one of the key areas of modern life. In the second half of the module, students will have the opportunity to continue to develop their ability to use and communicate mathematics by doing a project. Those students who wish to continue with more advanced programming topics can do so within this second half, whilst others will be able to explore some other exciting recent advances in mathematics.

Module learning outcomes

Subject content


Autumn Term

  • Fundamentals of Java: variables, expressions and assignments; loops and conditional structures; functions; arrays
  • Java class libraries: mathematical operations

·Numerical methods: floating point numbers; roundoff errors; selected approximation algorithms

  • One lecture on how to prepare a letter of application for a summer internship in an area where mathematics graduates are typically employed (e.g., the financial industry).



Spring and Summer Term


All students complete an individual project. This will be completed as part of


EITHER the Programming pathway OR the Recent Advances in Mathematics pathway




This part of the module will further develop of the communication skills introduced in the skills module in Stage 1. Both pathways specifically address the idea that developing the self-discipline of analysing one's own writing critically is a method for achieving better understanding and therefore greater clarity.


Students taking either pathway will also further develop their ability to produce an accurate and accessible record of their work, reinforcing the principles of clear writing and presentation. For the programming component, this will take the form of technical documentation to accompany their program and a short commentary; for the “recent advances” component, this will be a report produced using the mathematical typesetting program LaTeX.


In addition, all students will be required to take material learnt in one context (a lecture or lab) and use it to produce an extended piece of independent work, which is an essential skill for mathematicians to develop.


Specific content for the programming pathway:

  • Objects-oriented programming: objects; dynamic methods; inheritance; usage of these for mathematical applications
  • Collections framework

For the recent advances pathway:


Three recent advances in mathematics will be presented in three lots of three lectures. Students on the Recent Advances pathway then choose one of the three topics and are set an extended assignment which will involve completing a mathematical task based on the lecture material and writing a report to explain what they have done, including putting their work into a wider mathematical and/or societal context.


N.B. Since they will address some exciting themes in modern mathematics, the recent advances lectures will be open to all students to attend, whichever pathway they have chosen.


Academic and graduate skills

  • Any modern mathematics degree should address the computational side of mathematics, and students need to have an understanding of the power and utility of using computers in a mathematical context. On top of this, this module also develops students’ communication and independent study skills.
  • Many of our graduates end up in jobs which use computers, and not just as programmers. An understanding of the techniques and ideas developed in the first part of this module will enhance our graduates’ employability.
  • The second part of the module will help students to see a piece of mathematics in a modern context, either through a more advanced programming project or through an investigation of a recent advance in mathematics. The idea of mathematics as an evolving and up-to-date discipline is very important, but can be difficult to get across when students are learning basic material. At this stage in the degree we can begin to broaden horizons and open up the possibilities of applying what students have learnt so far.
  • The ability to write an effective letter of application for a summer internship in an area where mathematics graduates are typically employed is a valuable graduate skill.

Module content

Letter writing skills will be introduced through a one-hour lecture in week 4 or 5 of Autumn term. The mock letter will be due in Autumn week 7 and assessed by one staff member from a small panel.


Task Length % of module mark
Mock Letter of Application
N/A 5
Online Tests
N/A 15
Programming Assignment I
N/A 5
Programming Assignment II
N/A 25
Project report/Extended Programming Assignment
N/A 50

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

If a student has a failing module mark, only failed components will be reassessed. Model solutions for programming coursework and projects will be released, so the reassessment tasks are programming examinations in a computer lab, testing the same outcomes. Reassessment of Autumn term and Spring programming pathway should be timetabled to create a 3 hour session for any student requiring reassessment on both components. Re-assessment of the mock letter or of the report (recent advances pathway) to be submitted by the first day of the August resit period.


Task Length % of module mark
Re-assessment: Coursework
N/A 5
University - closed examination
Re-assessment: Programming Exam (Autumn)
1.5 hours 45
University - closed examination
Re-assessment: Programming or Report
1.5 hours 50

Module feedback

Current Department policy on feedback is available in the undergraduate student handbook. Coursework and examinations will be marked and returned in accordance with this policy.

Indicative reading

This information will be provided at the start of the module.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): changes to courses

The 2020/21 academic year will start in September. We aim to deliver as much face-to-face teaching as we can, supported by high quality online alternatives where we must.

Find details of the measures we're planning to protect our community.

Course changes for new students