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MMath Mathematics and Statistics / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

Course unit details:
Mathematics for a Finite Planet

Unit code MATH35062
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Department of Mathematics
Available as a free choice unit? No

Overview

The unit aims to: introduce students to the challenges created by finite resources and changes in the planetary environment due to human activity. Students will cover a variety of topics, both environmental and societal, developing mathematical analysis and interpreting this analysis in the light of the challenges. They will also be introduced to policy decision making and the assessment of political and ethical issues raised by proposed policies.

 

Pre/co-requisites

Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Calculus and Vectors A MATH10121 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Calculus and Applications A MATH10222 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Introduction to Statistics MATH10282 Pre-Requisite Compulsory

MATH20401 PDEs and Vector Calculus is a helpful pre-requisite, but not mandatory.

Aims

The unit aims to: introduce students to the challenges created by finite resources and changes in the planetary environment due to human activity. Students will cover a variety of topics, both environmental and societal, developing mathematical analysis and interpreting this analysis in the light of the challenges. They will also be introduced to policy decision making and the assessment of political and ethical issues raised by proposed policies.

 

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  • Use local, national and international reports to assess and describe the potential environmental and human impact of the problem
  • Manipulate mathematical and/or statistical models to describe aspects of problems from a finite planet
  • Interpret the mathematics in the context of the original problem, and to reflect critically on the limitations and/or accuracy of the moelling process
  • Develop policy suggestions based on the mathematical descriptions used, and to assess the potential impact and identify any ethical issues raised by the policy and to suggest remedies; evaluate critically the policy proposals and their effects
  • Choose content so as to communicate effectively to a technical audience (for the mathematics) and a more general audience (for the other areas); write documents aimed at different communities in a style and with a content that is appropriate to that readership.

Teaching and learning methods

First five weeks: 10 hours standard lectures with 3 hours example classes and discussions, 2 hours of student-led panel discussions.

Next 5 weeks: 4-5 hours (depending on semester) single topic lectures in Impact-Mathematics-Interpretation-Policy format with 8-10 hours of student-led panel discussions in the same format.

Final 2 weeks: 6 hours support for final project submission (of which 2 hours lecture on expectations and writing).

 

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 20%
Report 80%

Formative assessment: Report handed in during week 7 based on mathematics and interpretation of results.
2 Pages (1000 words)
20% Weighting

Summative assessment: Report in Impact-Mathematics-Interpretation-Policy format at the end of the course.
4 pages (2000 words)
80% Weighting

Opportunity to participate in two presentations
2 x share of 10 minute presentations
Peer review and comparison with lecture notes provided after the session

 

 

Recommended reading

Lecture notes available via Blackboard

Various online materials (e.g. UN Sustainable Development Goals https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/, research papers and reports)

R. Attfield Environmental Ethics a very short introduction, 2018, Oxford

A.E. Dessler Introduction to Modern Climate Change, 2012, CUP

H. Goosse, P.Y. Barriat, W. Lefebvre, M.F. Loutre, and V. Zunz (2010) Introduction to climate dynamics and climate modelling, online textbook available at http://www.climate.be/textbook.

M. Maslin Climate Change a very short introduction, 2014, Oxford

R.T. Pierrehumbert  Principles of Planetary Climate, 2010, CUP

 

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Tutorials 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 67

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Paul Glendinning Unit coordinator

Additional notes

This course unit detail provides the framework for delivery in 20/21 and may be subject to change due to any additional Covid-19 impact.  

Please see Blackboard / course unit related emails for any further updates

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