This blog is about the typical week of a Maths student.
I’m currently in my fourth year, studying four modules this term in addition to working on my final-year project. I also volunteer as a PAL (Peer Assisted Learning) Leader, I’m one of the 4th-Year course representatives, and I work for the Department of Mathematics at Open Days. I like to stay busy, so I tend to have quite a lot on during the week!
Mondays are always a full-on start to the week. I have four lectures – one for each of the modules I am taking this term.
One of those modules I’m studying is Analytic Number Theory. In the lectures for this course, we have been learning about some of the properties of the Riemann zeta function, which is the subject of the famous Riemann Hypothesis, which you may have heard of. It’s really cool to be studying something that leads to such deep mathematics.
In the afternoon, I had a meeting with my fellow course representatives. Basically, this role involves gathering feedback from everyone in my year and sharing it with the Department at regular meetings. There’s a meeting with staff happening later in the week, and we had a pre-meeting to talk through the agenda items and prepare.
I had two lectures in the morning, and then spent the rest of the day working in the undergraduate study space in the Department of Mathematics. I spend quite a lot of time in there – there are chalkboards you can use, and lots of friends to discuss maths with.
Today I had two lectures and a seminar. Seminars are small group teaching sessions, where you can ask questions and try out problems for yourself.
One of these seminars is Metric Number Theory. This module is one of my favourites this term. The course is exploring how well we can approximate any real number with rational numbers (fractions).
Recently, we have been looking at Khintchine’s Theorem, which gives a way to find out the size of a particular set of numbers we are interested in. The lecturer teaching this course is actively researching this area of maths, and has used the results we are learning in his own work, which really helps bring lectures to life.
Wednesday afternoons are my favourite time of the week! I work as a Student Ambassador, helping at Visit Days. I get to chat with prospective students, give tours of campus, and even run a mini-seminar to give a taste of uni-style learning.
Today was super busy due to a lecture being rescheduled from Friday. One of my classes was a problems class – this is where the lecturer goes over lots of examples and shows you how to answer questions. This class isn’t held in the Maths building, so I got the chance to wander across campus, which was looking very autumnal and lovely.
I also helped at a PAL (Peer Assisted Learning) session for 1st-Years. Each week we give an hour-long session to support their introductory stats and probability module. We give hints for the homework, and talk through how to answer questions. This has been a really great experience – it’s definitely true that teaching a topic helps you to understand it better yourself.
On this particular week, I didn’t have any lectures on Friday, so it was a nice relaxing end to the week. I went along to help at the 1st-Year drop-in session – this is a session where 1st-Years can ask older students, PhD students and lecturers any questions that they have about their modules. The transition to university maths can be a bit of a jump, but there are lots of activities such as this to make it as smooth as possible.
I also try to schedule some time each Friday to work on my final-year project. I am exploring the abc Conjecture, which is a problem in number theory. At the moment, I’m reading lots of papers to try and understand the topic, and later on this year I’ll be writing it all up.
Saturday and Sunday
Although I spent a bit of time working on some assignments that were due the following week, I try to keep my weekends fairly free of uni work. I usually end up spending some of the time doing “chores” – this week I had to go shopping, do laundry and give my flat a tidy.
On Saturday afternoon, I went round to a friend’s house for a board game night. It was really nice to unwind and forget about maths for a while – although we did end up discussing the optimal card shuffling method while we played UNO!