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Course content

This one-year master's course provides training in the application of mathematics to a wide range of problems in science and technology. Emphasis is placed on the formulation of problems, on the analytical and numerical techniques for a solution and the computation of useful results.

By the end of the course students should be able to formulate a well posed problem in mathematical terms from a possibly sketchy verbal description, carry out appropriate mathematical analysis, select or develop an appropriate numerical method, write a computer program which gives sensible answers to the problem, and present and interpret these results for a possible client. Particular emphasis is placed on the need for all these parts in the problem solving process, and on the fact that they frequently interact and cannot be carried out sequentially.

The course consists of both taught courses and a dissertation. To complete the course you must complete 13 units.

There are four core courses which you must complete (one unit each), which each usually consist of 24 lectures, classes and an examination. There is one course on mathematical methods and one on numerical analysis in both Michaelmas term and Hilary term. Each course is assessed by written examination in Week 0 of the following term.

Additionally, you must choose at least least one special topic in the area of modelling and one in computation (one unit each). There are around twenty special topics to choose from, spread over all three academic terms, each usually consisting for 12 to 16 lectures and a mini project, which culminates in a written report of around 20 pages. Topics covered include mathematical biology, fluid mechanics, perturbation methods, numerical solution of differential equations and scientific programming. 

You must also undertake at least one case study in modelling and one in scientific computing (one unit each), normally consisting of four weeks of group work, an oral presentation and a report delivered in Hilary term.

There is also a dissertation (four units) of around 50 pages, which does not necessarily need to represent original ideas. Since there is another MSc focussed on mathematical finance specifically, the MSc in Mathematical and Computational Finance, you are not permitted to undertake a dissertation in this field.

You will normally accumulate four units in core courses, three units in special topics, two units in case studies and four units in the dissertation. In addition, you will usually attend classes in mathematical modelling, practical numerical analysis and additional skills during Michaelmas term.

In the first term, students should expect their weekly schedule to consist of around seven hours of core course lectures and seven hours of modelling, practical numerical analysis and additional skills classes, then a further two hours of lectures for each special topic course followed. In addition there are about three hours of problem solving classes to go through core course exercises and students should expect to spend time working through the exercises then submitting them for marking prior to the class. There are slightly fewer contact hours in the second term, but students will spend more time working in groups on the case studies.

In the third term there are some special topic courses, including one week intensive computing courses, but the expectation is that students will spend most of the third term and long vacation working on their dissertations. During this time, students should expect to work hours that are equivalent to full-time working hours, although extra hours may occasionally be needed. Students are expected to write special topic and case study reports during the Christmas and Easter vacations, as well as revising for the core course written examinations.


Visit the Mathematical Modelling and Scientific Computing page on the University of Oxford website for more details!

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