Course Structure and Facilities

Course Structure

The mathematical side of the course concentrates on areas where computers are used, or which are relevant to computer science, namely algebra, general topology, number theory, combinatorics and logic. Examples from the computing side include computational complexity, concurrency, and quantum computing. 

The course will consist of examined lecture courses and a written dissertation. The lecture courses will be divided into two sections:

  • Section A: Mathematical Foundations
  • Section B: Applicable Theories

Each section shall be divided into Schedule I (basic) and Schedule II (advanced). Candidates shall  be required to satisfy the examiners in at least two courses taken from Section B and in at least two courses taken from Schedule II.

The majority of these courses will be given in the first two terms.

During Trinity term and over the summer students should complete a dissertation on an agreed topic. The dissertation must bear regard to course material from Section A or Section B, and it must demonstrate relevance to some area of science, engineering, industry or commerce.

It is intended that a major feature of this course is that candidates should show a broad knowledge and understanding over a wide range of material. Consequently, each lecture course taken will receive an assessment upon its completion by means of a test based on written work. Candidates will be required to pass five courses, of which at least two shall be from Schedule II, and at least two from Section B (these need not be distinct.

Course Facilities

Lectures and classes take place in the Mathematical Institute and in the Department of Computer Science, both of which are close to the Radcliffe Science Library, the scientific section of the University Library (the Bodleian). All students have access to this library, which holds, or can readily obtain, all books and periodicals of interest, and also to the Whitehead Library in the Mathematical Institute. The Department of Computer Science has its own library comprising mainly books on numerical analysis and computation.

Students have access to a wide range of computing facilities. These include an extensive network of Linux workstations at the Mathematical Institute and two powerful parallel computing systems that are installed in the Department of Computer Science. All of the machines are connected to the University-wide network, and the Internet, so it is possible to access many of them from terminals and workstations in the Department of Computer Science, Mathematical Institute, University Colleges and Departments, and from home.

Every office in the Mathematical Institute has at least one Unix workstation. In addition, there are four public access computer rooms available for use 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Nearly every office in the Department of Computer Science building contains some computing facility, most commonly in the form of a Sun workstation or PC which can be used as a local resource or to access other nodes on the Departmental network. In addition there are a number of public terminal rooms and printer rooms. A wide variety of commercial software and public domain software is available online, as well as software developed within the Department.

The Oxford University Computing Service also has computer rooms for student use, as well as a help desk and a shop for purchasing software for use at home.

Oxford University is a collegiate university and each College forms an autonomous community with its own social, cultural and sporting facilities. The older, undergraduate colleges have a substantial number of graduate students: the younger, graduate colleges admit only graduates. Every student on the course is required to become a member of a college and may offer a list of preferences at the time of application.