There are many things to look forward to about maths at York – I would say there are x amount of things to look forward to where x is a positive integer greater than 6. However, since numbers can get quite big relatively fast I will just list a few of the brilliant things about the maths department at York.
You have probably heard of moodle before – we had one in secondary school that, in all honesty, we didn’t use all that much. However, the maths moodle at York is on a whole new level. Every department has the VLE (virtual learning environment) however in maths we have our own moodle. On here you will find lecture notes, problem sheets, lecture recordings, past exam papers, assignment deadlines and any other resources about the course. Each module has its own page with a discussion forum and announcements section. It’s basically like a mini social network just for maths students. You can also download it as an app on your phone or tablet which makes it really accessible as well so you can quickly check it for things like assignment deadlines.
Coffee & Calculus*
*You don’t have to drink coffee, nor do you have to do calculus it just sounds better than ‘Have a brew and do some maths’.
Every Wednesday afternoon the Department and Maths Society run a drop-in session for 1st years. 2nd and 3rd year students go along and you can ask them any questions you have about lectures or assignments. When I came to university the idea of asking a lecturer for help was quite scary and I found it a lot easier to ask a fellow student for help. It is also a great way to meet other people on your course – sitting and doing maths with other folks is probably something you will end up doing a lot. Plus, there is usually free cake and coffee/tea/juice.
Before coming to university, I knew that the main areas of maths were pure, stats and applied. However, beyond that I didn’t really know much. The first thing I realised is that applied maths doesn’t necessarily mean mechanics or physics. There are lots of module choices at York that really highlight the range of fields within mathematics. When I started university I was certain that pure maths was my favourite bit. However, after taking a module in mathematical biology I have discovered that this is an interesting area of maths even though I’d never heard of it before.
My favourite module so far is Modelling with MATLAB in 3rd year. It was so interesting see how we can use maths and computers to model the real world. My second favourite is Practical Data Science in R because I am learning how we can use machine learning and data to impact the real world. This maths is so interesting.
Don’t worry if these modules don’t sound like your thing, there are lots of other ones too. In first year you all do the same modules so that when you start second year everyone is on a level playing field in terms of mathematical knowledge. In second year you do a few core modules then pick two out of the three streams – pure, applied and stats. Then in 3rd year you get to pick all of your modules and do the maths that you want to do. You get lots of time to decide which modules and don’t worry about what you’re going to do because I had no idea what I’d take in first year!
As you may or may not know every student has a supervisor who is an academic member of staff within their department. Coming to university is quite scary and it is really helpful having a point of contact if you feel like you aren’t doing too good. There are lots of different support services at the university but finding the right one can be difficult so having someone who can point you in the right direction is really useful.
The university is a big place and it can be hard to imagine having a strong sense of community when you don’t know the majority of people. However, within the maths department there is that sense of community and being in a community of people who find maths genuinely interesting is pretty cool. You can really tell that some lectures really do enjoy talking about maths and seeing that enthusiasm is brilliant.
The maths department is located in the centre of the Heslington West campus. This means that it is easily accessible from different colleges. It is in James college so it is also near a costa, catering outlet and the student union building.
So these are just some of the brilliant things about the maths department at York. There are lots more brilliant things but I suppose you will just have to come to York to find out what they are…