Skip to main content

Mathematical Explorations


  • Credit value: 15 credits at Level 4
  • Convenor: Dr Brad Baxter
  • Assessment: two problem sets (25% each) and a 1000-word essay (50%)

Module description

In this module we look at ways in which mathematics gives us insights into a wide range of real-world situations, from music and harmony to the way nature adapts to large and small scales.

We will practise problem-solving, explaining our reasoning, structuring our thinking and writing solutions, and learn more about the social and cultural context in which mathematics is done, through the biographies of a diverse range of mathematicians.

Indicative syllabus

  • Games and strategies: simple games, real-life problems of strategy and how simple mathematical ideas help us make decisions
  • Sound and music: how sounds are made and why some notes sound pleasing together and others don’t
  • Large and small: why large animals are not just small ones scaled up, whether giants could really exist and why insects were so much larger in prehistoric times
  • Time and space: the mathematics of clocks, calendars, maps and navigation, and how humanity has solved these problems over history

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • use mathematical and/or statistical techniques
  • understand a range of results in mathematics
  • appreciate the need for proof in mathematics, and follow and construct mathematical arguments
  • explain the use of mathematics and/or statistics to model problems in the natural and social sciences, and formulate such problems using appropriate notation
  • understand the importance of assumptions and where they are used and the possible consequences of their violation
  • present, analyse and interpret data
  • appreciate the historical and cultural aspects of mathematics.