Information for Prelims Students

This page contains information for first year students and is primarily for Mathematics, and Mathematics and Philosophy students. You are also encouraged to consult the undergraduate handbook for your course. The information may be of interest to other joint school students but please also consult the website of the Department of Statistics or the Department of Computer Science as appropriate.

Key Dates

Finding Your Way Around

Your Working Week

Study Skills and Resources

Computational Mathematics


Key Dates 

The weeks of term are labelled weeks 1 to 8 with week 0 being the week before term. 

Michaelmas Term

Week 0, Friday

2pm Induction for all mathematics and joint schools  (L1, Mathematical Institute)

3.15pm Induction for Mathematics and Philosophy (Faculty of Philosophy)

T.B.C. Induction for Mathematics and Computer Science (Department of Computer Science) 

3.15pm Induction for Mathematics and Statistics (Department of Statistics)

Week 1, Monday (9/10) Michaelmas term lectures begin
Week 1, Wednesday (5.00pm) Mathematics and Philosophy welcome event 
Week 1,Thursday (5.00pm) Undergraduate Welcome Party
Week 3 Computational Mathematics classes begin
Week 8, Friday (1/12) Michaelmas term lectures end

Hilary Term

Week 1, Monday (15/1) Hilary term lectures begin
Week 6, Monday (12noon) Submission deadline for first computational mathematics project (M, M&S students only)
Week 9, Monday (12noon) Submission deadline for second computational mathematics project (M, M&S students only)
Week 8, Friday (9/3) Hilary term lectures end

Trinity Term

Week 1, Monday (23/4) Trinity term lectures begin
Week 4, Friday              

Trinity term lectures end

Prelims preparation lecture: advice on revision and examination technique

Week 9, Monday-Friday Provisional dates for Preliminary Examinations

Finding Your Way Around

Most lectures will be held in the Mathematical Institute, Andrew Wiles Building but you may go to lectures held in other departments, particularly in later years of the course.  Mathematics and Philosophy students will also have lectures in the Examination Schools and the Radcliffe Humanities Building.  A map of the University departments can be found here.

Your Working Week 


You will have ten lectures each week through term and this will be the first time you meet new material.  The format is more formal than tutorials, with relatively little chance for questions.  You may find the material is rather intensely presented - it is a good idea to read over your notes later before starting work on your problem sheets. The lecture list is available online.  

Problem Sheets

These are provided by the lecturer and typically set as work for tutorials.  For the mathematics courses the sheets can be found on the course material webpages. The problems will highlight the concepts and techniques discussed in lectures so far. Your answers will need to be returned to your tutors by a set deadline.  Try to include a bibliography with your problems to show which books you have referred to.

Tutorial and Classes 

These problems and your solutions will be gone over in tutorials and classes during the week; there will usually be two per week. It is important that you make the most tutorials - you can do this by preparing for the tutorial: reminding yourself of the main definitions and theorems that are likely to come up, preparing a list of points from lectures or books that have troubled you through the week, and by being prepared to ask questions in tutorials when you are unsure of something.  Tutorials are your chance to get answers to your questions, not something to be "gotton through".

Study Skills and Resources 

The are a number of resources available on the University's website to help you develop your study skills.  In addition, you will receive subject specific advice at the undergraduate induction and throughout your studies from your college tutors.  The department also publishes a study guide: How do Undergraduates do Mathematics? in PDF icon PDF

There are many resources available to help you with your work: tutors are happy for you to collaborate with (but not copy from) other students; lecture notes contain most of the ideas needed, and further reading of the recommended text books on reading lists will often provide you with the rest.  The reading list for a course can be found in the course synopsis

Computational Mathematics 

Mathematics, and Mathematics and Statistics follow a course on computational mathematics and, in Hilary term, are required to submit two projects for assessment.  During Michaelmas term the are two lectures and fortnightly practical sessions held in the Mathematical Institute (your tutor will give you the times).  If you’re buying a computer for university, please do consider a standard laptop (running MS Windows or MacOS X) over a desktop, Chromebook or tablet etc. as such a laptop will be used for the practical sessions and project work. The Computational Mathematics course uses Matlab, for which the University has a site licence. (The software needed for the course can be downloaded from IT Services and to save time you should install it prior to the first session). If you do not have a laptop you will be able to borrow one for the sessions, and can apply for access to the computers in the Undergraduate Study Room to work on your projects, please contact Academic Admin to make arrangements.


At the end of the year Mathematics students sit one 3-hour, three 2.5-hour, and one 2-hour examinations known as Preliminary Examinations.  Mathematics and Philosophy students sit two 2.5-hour mathematics examinations, one 2-hour mathematics examination and two 3-hour philosophy examinations.  The Preliminary Examination is an unclassified examination in which candidates are awarded overall either a distinction, pass or fail.  For further information about the examinations please see the examinations and assessments section.

During the year, usually at the start of each term, your tutors may set  you collections.  These are college-set examinations, less formal than Prelims, though still to be taken seriously as they are a guide to you and your tutors as to your progress.