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Teaching in the School - a Brief Introduction

Background

Teaching is fundamentally important to the School.  As well as our desire and duty to pass on mathematical knowledge, the future of the School depends on continuing to develop and improve its teaching.

We have substantial activity at undergraduate level (UG),  MSc level ("Postgraduate taught - PGT"), and PhD level.

UG Degrees

For official  information on degree requirements see drps.ed.ac.uk, but for a user-friendly view of courses in Maths and a couple of related schools see PATH  (path.is.ed.ac.uk) a fantastic resource created by UG students in the School.

At undergraduate level the standard UG degree is four years:

  • In Years 1 and 2 ("Prehonours") students spend a little more than half their total time on mathematics and use their remaining time to take courses from across the university.
  • In Years 3 and 4 ("Honours") students typically study entirely or almost entirely their principal subject.
  • We have a number of "combined (ie joint) degrees": typically students study each of two subjects approximately equally throughout. 
  • Our in-house degree programmes include Mathematics, Mathematics and Statistics, Applied Mathematics. (Note that in Edinburgh a students degree is called a "programme" rather than a "course" as it is in many other UK institutions.)

Variations

  • We take a proportion (15-20%) of well-qualified entrants directly into year 2 ("direct entry" or "accelerated programme") where they do mainly mathematics from the start.
  • We have an "Integrated Masters" (MMath) degree where students study an extra UG year "at masters level".

Intake

  • We take around 150 students per year into the School of Maths. These are students doing degrees in Mathematics or combined degrees that we run (which are those where Mathematics is the first named subject). There are also students on combined degrees owned by other Schools - e.g. Computer Science and Maths, Economics and Maths.
  • Typical breakdown of our 150 is 55 Scottish, 45 Rest of UK, 20 Rest of EU, 30 Rest of World.

MSc degrees

Our MSc degrees are primarily centred on Operational Research, Financial Mathematics and Statistics. Total numbers recently around 100 per year.

Teaching Admin

Teaching Organisation is centred in the Mathematics Teaching Organisation on Level 5 of JCMB.   Other important links:

  • learn.ed.ac.uk is our "Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)" and is where course information for students and tutors is located.  To access this you need to be registered on the course as Lecturer/Tutor as appropriate.   (Accessibly also through "MyEd".) 
  • Info.maths (this site) contains a lot of information about learning and teaching for both staff and students.  

Curricula

  • A full-time year of study consists of 120 SQA points. (Cf a yearly 60 ECTS on the European system: 120 SQA points corresponds to 1200 hours of study whereas 60 ECTS corresponds to 1500-1800 hours .)  Courses (which in other places are often called "modules") are (with rare, authorised exceptions) in units of 10,20 or 40 points.

Timetable etc

  • University teaching and vacation timetable
  • Timetables:  Web Timetables and Room Booking are available through MyEd (under the "Admin" tab). 
  • Courses, workshops, etc run from Week 1 to Week 11 in the two teaching semesters.
  • The basic teaching period is 50 minutes, allowing a 10 minute changeover period.    
    • Please do not over-run: students have other places they need to get to.
    • Starting times are 9am, 10am, 11.10am, 12.10pm, ... 5.10pm.   (So there is a 20 minute break 10.50-11.10 which in principle enables students to travel between campuses.)  
  • All our Year 1 teaching is in the "Central Area" also known as "George Square" or just "in town".  (Most Y1 teaching across the University is located there to facilitate students having varied curricula.)
  • Almost all of our teaching in years 2 and later is on the KB site and usually in JCMB.  

The Year 1 courses

  • Maths for Science and Engineering 1a/b (MSE1a/b): For students on Engineering and Chemistry degrees.   
  • Introduction to Linear Algebra (ILA) and Calculus and Its Applications (CAP):  We call these "Specialist Courses" BUT it is important if you are teaching them to realise that they are compulsory also for students on Informatics degrees and available to others as an "outside course".  So please avoid saying things like "later in your maths degree...." if you are teaching these.
  • Proofs and Problem Solving (PPS): The third "Specialist Course" is composed mainly of students on (single or combined honours) Maths degrees.  But even here you will find eg Mathematical Physics students and some taking it as an outside course.  

Lecturing

Most contact hours in most courses are in the form of (50 minute) lectures. 

  • Most lecture theatres are well-equipped with boards and also technology.
  • You may receive "Learning Profiles" for students.  Please discuss this with Pamela Docherty (our Student Learning Advisor and also Coordinator of Adjustments) if you are unsure how to respond. There is some flexibility here: adjustments are to be made if reasonably possible.   
  • The University is now "mainstreaming" various adjustments.  In particular please note:
    • In lectures you should always use a microphone (there is always a portable wireless one available) irrespective of your perceived need for it.
    • Students are allowed to audio record lectures for their own use without permission.   This may be not allowed if such recording would affect the learning environment, such as in workshops. 
  • The setting for workshops where possible is a "Teaching Studio" (such as Room 3217 in this building).  These contain tables seating up to 6 students. 
    • In years 1 and two there is one tutor for each pair of tables.
    • In later years tutors are not assigned to particular tables.
    • A course lecturer will usually be present as "session leader" to oversee the workshop.  

More advice on lecturing will appear on this site.  The Director of Teaching is always happy to offer support and advice. 

Workshops

We try and do most of our "tutoring" in "workshops".     We call them workshops because A "workshop" is somewhere you go to be active whereas "tutorial" could suggest an event where you are passively taught.  We believe, in accordance with much research evidence, that "active learning" and "interactive engagement" lead to better learning.

Please read out Tutoring Pages to find out more about how we operate here, even if you are an experienced teacher.     See also the information on Honours Workshops if you are involved in Y3/4 teaching.

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