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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

MATH41620: Number Theory

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2021/22
Tied to G1K509 Mathematical Sciences


  • Prior knowledge of Algebra at undergraduate level.


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To provide an introduction to Algebraic Number Theory (Diophantine Equations and Ideal Theory).


  • Diophantine equations using elementary methods.
  • Unique factorization.
  • Ideals.
  • Euclidean rings.
  • Number fields.
  • Algebraic integers.
  • Quadratic fields and integers.
  • The discriminant and integral bases.
  • Factorization of ideals.
  • The ideal class group.
  • Dirichlet's Unit Theorem.
  • L-functions.
  • Class number formula for quadratic fields.
  • Reading material on a topic related to one of the above areas.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module students will: be able to solve novel and/or complex problems in Number Theory.
  • have a systematic and coherent understanding of theoretical mathematics in the field of Number Theory.
  • have acquired a coherent body of knowledge of these subjects demonstrated through one or more of the following topic areas:
  • Euclidean rings, principal ideal domains, uniqueness of factorization.
  • Algebraic number fields (especially Quadratic fields).
  • Applications to Diophantine equations.
  • Student will also have a knowledge and understanding of a topic related to the areas listed under content.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • In addition students will have specialised mathematical skills in the following areas which can be used with minimal guidance: Abstract reasoning.
  • Students will have an ability to read independently to acquire knowledge and understanding in related areas.
Key Skills:

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.
  • Subject material assigned for independent study develops the ability to acquire knowledge and understanding in related areas.
  • 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 high level of rigour as well as feedback for the students and the lecturer on 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 for 20 weeks and 2 in term 3 1 Hour 42
Problems Classes 8 Four in each of terms 1 and 2 1 Hour 8
Preperation and Reading 150
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
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.

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