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Durham University

Department of Mathematical Sciences

Our approach to teaching Mathematics

Studying in small groups

We endeavour to link education and research in distinctive and creative ways. At level 1 and 2, our teaching is research-oriented, focusing on the understanding of proof and developing students’ ability to construct mathematical arguments as much as content subject. The completion of assigned questions to develop these skills, both in tutorials and working independently, is an important part of our educational approach.

At level 3 and 4, most modules involve both research-led and research-oriented elements. Students are exposed to advanced mathematical topics directly related to staff research interests. They are also introduced to more sophisticated methods of mathematical argument, and solving problems independently continues to be an important part of the educational approach.

We set the highest standards in research-led education, linking research and education in distinctive and creative ways.

Lectures and tutorials

Lectures and tutorials

Most of the teaching in mathematics consists of 50-minute lectures (12 per week on average), supplemented by tutorials. The tutorials, held in small groups in the first year, are informal and provide an opportunity to raise any questions you may have. As a single honours student, you will have at least three tutorials per week during each of the first two years. We will monitor your progress carefully. Problems are set in lectures on a weekly basis, and your marked solutions may form the topic of discussion in a tutorial or problem class. You will be encouraged to work with other students, and to make use of the University's library and computing resources.


Successful completion of the first year examinations qualifies you for admission to year two. Your degree classification is based on your results from year 2 onwards. For the BSc programmes, year 2 and the final year are weighted in the ratio 2:3. For the MMath programmes, years 2, 3 and 4 are weighted in the ratios 2:3:4. (For the MMath European Studies programme, your performance in year 3 abroad is assessed by the overseas university using their standard examination procedure. The results are converted to their equivalent Durham grades and count fully towards the award of your final degree.)

For most mathematics modules, the assessment is based mostly or entirely on an end of year written examination. Exceptions include Mathematical Modelling II, Project III, Mathematics Teaching III and Project IV which are assessed via written reports, student presentations & posters.

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