… by Alden / from Bath / BSc Mathematics [2nd Year Entry] / 4th Year (UG)
By the time most people have reached fourth year they have a firm idea of what they do and do not like. Conveniently, in fourth year you are given full autonomy of your module choices. There are such a wide range of choice you will be able to fully choose modules from whatever area you enjoy and are best at. A consequence of the larger range of modules, is that you will be in smaller classes allowing you the chance to interact more with the lecturer and maybe get more out of each class. This again presents a fantastic opportunity if you are curious about further research as it is easier to build relationships with these lecturers.
Another fantastic opportunity of fourth year is the final year project, in which you are given the chance to work closely with a tutor on a topic you have interest in, either individually or in a group project. My project is on population models and involves developing simulations to model mutations in that population and how species adapt to the most favourable gene. Again, this displays well the diverse nature of maths and its applications to the rest of science. I have thoroughly enjoyed my project and it gave me a chance to explore in depth something that I would never have otherwise been able to study. Although this is fantastic, it does mean you’ll encounter various problems. If you get stuck, there isn’t always that much literature on your chosen topic and so if you’re alone then finding help is difficult. However my supervisor is fantastic, as are the others from what I’ve heard from friends.
If this doesn’t appeal, there is a myriad of potential projects each year meaning you can do almost anything you may have enjoyed in the previous three years. In addition, there is the chance to meet your project supervisor for an hour a week, significantly more contact time than in other institutions. This again is a fantastic chance to discuss a topic in depth with a potential leader in the given topic. Having completed your project you then present it to your peers. It is an excellent chance to learn about what your peers have done and learn about other areas of mathematics, as well as practise some applicable real-world presentation skills.
If you don’t want to do a project, you can do a module on mathematical education in which you are able to visit schools and learn about teaching maths.
All of this indicates a step away from traditional taught learning and introduces people to a more independent, research-based style of learning which is beneficial for anyone considering a PhD, as well as being useful within other professions.
Finally, fourth year for most is their final year. Clearly it is a time of transition for many and that is where the support of the careers service comes in. They are fantastic at helping people make reasoned decisions about what to do after graduating, whether it be further study or a graduate job. The maths careers service hosts mock interviews as well as mock assessment centres, all of which are great for all pursuing graduate jobs and internships.
All this however is irrelevant to me as I have no idea what to do! But for the more decisive, it is definitely a fantastic tool.