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Durham University

Postgraduate Module Handbook 2021/2022

Archive Module Description

This page is for the academic year 2021-22. The current handbook year is 2022-23

Department: Mathematical Sciences

MATH31220: Geometry of Mathematical Physics III

Type Tied Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2021/22
Tied to G1K509 Mathematical Sciences


  • Prior knowledge of Analysis in Many Variables and Mathematical Physics


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • The aim of the course is to introduce students to the wealth of geometric structures that arise in modern mathematical physics.
  • To explore the role of symmetries in physical problems and how they are formulated in mathematical terms, focussing on examples from classical field theory such as electromagnetism.
  • To then study geometric constructions such as fibre bundles, connections and curvature that underpin contemporary mathematical physics and its interplay with geometry.


  • Variational principle for fields and symmetries.
  • Lie algebras, groups, and representations.
  • Representations of SO(2), SU(2) and the Lorentz group, including spinors.
  • Constructing variational principles invariant under symmetries.
  • Charged particle in electromagnetic field and gauge symmetry.
  • Variational principle for abelian gauge symmetry.
  • Non-abelian gauge symmetry.
  • Fibre bundles, connections, and curvature.
  • Coupling to charged fields: associated vector bundles and sections.
  • Examples of topologically non-trivial configurations: abelian Higgs model, Wu-Yang monopole,'t Hooft Polyakov monopole, Bogomolnyi monopoles, instantons.
  • Examples involving spinors and index theorems.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module, students will:
  • be able to solve novel and/or complex problems in Applied Mathematics.
  • have a systematic and coherent understanding of the mathematical formulation behind the MHD and nonlinear elasticity models.
  • have acquired a coherent body of knowledge of MHD and nonlinear elasticity through study of fundamental behaviour of the models as well as specific examples.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • The students will have specialised knowledge and mathematical skills in tackling problems in: symmetries and geometries in physical theories.
Key Skills:
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Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Lectures demonstrate what is required to be learned and the application of the theory to practical examples.
  • Assignments for self-study develop problem-solving skills and enable students to test and develop their knowledge and understanding.
  • Formatively assessed assignments provide practice in the application of logic and a high level of rigour as well as feedback for the students and the lecturer on the students’ progress.
  • The end-of-year examination assesses the knowledge acquired and the ability to solve predictable and unpredictable problems.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 42 2 per week in Michaelmas and Epiphany; 2 in Easter 1 hour 42
Problems Classes 8 4 classes in Michaelmas and Epiphany 1 hour 8
Preparation and Reading 150
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
End of year written examination 3 hours 100%

Formative Assessment:

Eight written or electronic assignments to be assessed and returned. Other assignments are set for self-study and complete solutions are made available to students.

â–  Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University