Maths at Bristol Watch

Goldenratio
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#1
Report Thread starter 11 years ago
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Any details/personal opinions would be much appreciated!
Could you tell me a little about what you thought of the modules?


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majikthise
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I'm bored, so I'll write my summary of the first year modules:

Calculus- If you did further maths at A-level, this will contain much of the material from the Core units and little else- complex numbers, differentiation, hyperbolic functions, integration, fourier series and the like. Not very interesting, but vital to ensure every student is up to the same level in terms of basic technique. The format is much the same as A-level, ie. not nearly as rigorous as...

Analysis- The first "real" maths you'll see. Starts off with a grounding in formal logic and the rigorous proof of the painfully obvious, before moving on to the rigorous proof of the not-quite-so-painfully-but-still-fairly obvious (basically proving things about functions, continuity etc). Despite sounding dull and being hated by a fair number of students, I actually enjoyed this module.
Mathematics is the one subject in which theorems are "perfect"- they will always remain true- and it's nice to take this luxury to build a solid foundation on which to work upon. Once you get your head round the concept of an "epsilon proof", it's not too difficult either- just try to understand the basic concept as soon as possible, or you'll be left behind!

Pure- My favourite module. This contains Number Theory (proving things about factorisation/prime numbers), Further Topics in Analysis (in which you learn interesting stuff about the size of infinite sets and give a rigorous grounding for integration) and Group Theory (learning about weird things called groups, which are odd at first but extremely useful). Interesting course with some interesting concepts.

Linear Algebra- Matrices, vectors and stuff. First you learn about calculating products of matrices, finding determinants, that sort of thing- altough with less focus on geometrical applications than at A-level. The module then becomes more general with the definition of "Vector Spaces" and abstract things to do with them. n-dimensional space, mmm.

Mechanics- Bleargh, horrible. Interesting and useful, but I found myself getting lost frequently here (possibly this had more than a little do with the 9am lectures). Starts nicely enough with vectors, differential equations and Newton's laws, then applies it to all the situations you saw at A-level and beyond with a slightly more formal methodology. I got confused about half way through- far too many definitions to remember and I kept forgetting results from the first term that were then assumed in the second. The section at the end (Special Relativity) made up for it, a first glimpse at non-newtonian physics that boggled the mind but was well worth doing.

Probability/Stats- Possibly the only unit that will require a calculator (don't bother buying a fancy one for uni, utterly pointless). If it weren't for the relatively large number of things you had to remember (as opposed to understanding concepts, which is more important in pure/analysis/lin alg) this would have been a great course. As it was, I missed some of the elegance of the theorems because I was going "eek, I can't remember what that formula from last week was...". The course itself gives a rigorous (there's that word again...) grounding in basic probability theory before giving results and methods useful in the real world- fitting distributions to sample data, estimation, hypothesis testing etc.


In general (apart from calculus), the focus is on rigour- basically, being far more careful and precise than previously. The first few weeks are to adjust to this new way of thinking and very little new material is introduced- that soon changes! There's definatly enough new stuff to keep things interesting.
In terms of workload, maths students don't get such a bad deal- more contact hours than the majority of arts students, far fewer than engineers! Keeping up with the homework is a definatly a good idea but additional work on top of that isn't really necessary (I didn't do much!).
I'll avoid discussion about lecturers because you may well have different ones next year, but a couple have been excelent, one or two mediocre and the others highly competant- essentially the same as any other good university.

Conclusion: Yes, maths at Bristol is good. I've no qualms about my choice of course/uni whatsoever. Of course your experiences may be different to mine (especially when it comes unit preferences), I just thought I'd give my overview. Hope it was at least slightly useful.


...oh, and apologies for writing an essay, but you don't get much practise whilst studying maths!
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andy5788
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I would post something but majikthise essentially covered it. If you're interested I did a post like that a few pages back for another "maths at bristol" topic in this forum but it basically just said what they have anyway....
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Goldenratio
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Report Thread starter 11 years ago
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Thank you very much!

What do you think of the installations/resources? Things like library, computers lecturers being in office for help whenever, etc-?
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majikthise
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haha, I should have just quoted Andy's post then.

Personally I never once went into the library so I don't know much about that, but if you want to look anything up wikipedia is surprisingly good for maths. There are loads of computers in the maths department for use by anyone, and as far as I know it's the only department to offer free printing- woo! If you want to see someone for academic help, either corner the lecturer after the lecture for a quick question or contact your subject tutor, who are very approachable.
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K..W.Studd
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Sorry to bring this topic back but it is a really good info resource, just wanted to ask a quick question.
Unfortunately I didnt get an offer from Bristol, but I did get one from Bath, Cardiff and Sheffield, so I was wondering, will most of this info apply to courses at other unis or is it going to be completely different everywhere?
Joe
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