Teaching Opportunities

AIMS relies on the contributions of lecturers and supervisors. Thank you for your support.

Click on any of the below for more information:

Apply to Teach at AIMS

This page allows you to submit a proposal for one or more courses which you would like to teach at any AIMS centre. There will be slight flexibility at each centre and some differences between centres’ exact programmes. Programmes are finalised in discussion with the director and/or curriculum committee at each centre.

Please read the following information carefully before proceeding to the form.

Closing date

The AIMS Structured Master’s in Mathematical Sciences Programme commences in September each year at all centres. AIMS South Africa offers a second intake commencing in January for South African students. Prospective lecturers are advised to submit proposals by 28 February for courses in the programme starting the following September (or January). Selection of courses will take place during March and April and all proposers will have been advised of the outcome in early June.

Course selection

As there are many more course proposals than available course slots, the submission of a course proposal does not guarantee automatic acceptance into the curriculum. The AIMS governing bodies reserve the right to actively recruit additional lecturers and schedule additional courses on an ad-hoc basis, in order to ensure a well-balanced course of the highest possible quality.

Master’s curriculum

After an introductory week, the curriculum for the AIMS Master’s in Mathematical Sciences is divided into three categories: skills courses and review courses followed by a research project (where no formal courses are taught). These run in parallel with some continuous communication and computing classes presented by AIMS staff during all phases. Proposals are solicited for the skills and review courses. Each course will consist of 30 hours contact time (10 per week), that is approximately 15 to 18 hours lecturing with additional time (12 to 15 hours) for discussion and practical/tutorial work.

Skills courses are designed to provide introductory and foundational material to the students, and are structured to achieve pre-defined outcomes, with little flexibility in their content. The time slots during which the skills courses will be taught are provisional as in the typical skills course programme at AIMS South Africa shown below. The order of these courses often varies. Exact dates could differ at the different AIMS centres.

Concepts in Physics and Physical Problem Solving 28 August–15 September 2017
Scientific Computing with SciPy 28 August–15 September 2017
Mathematical Problem Solving 18 September–6 October 2017
Topics in the Mathematical Sciences: Probability and Statistics OR Topics in Analysis OR Combinatorics OR Algebra 18 September–6 October 2017
Experimental Mathematics with Sage 9–27 October 2017
Topics in Entrepreneurship and Professional Development 9–27 October 2017

Review courses are fundamentally different in that they are designed to offer opportunities to teach on a wide range of topical issues. Lecturers thus have flexibility in designing their courses, subject to the guidelines set out below. Review courses will be taught from December through March in the time slots outlined below. The 3 courses in each time unit are usually balanced with respect to focus on mathematics, physics and interdisciplinary topics.

You will be given the opportunity to choose one or more time slots within which you would be prepared to teach your review course. The more time slots you are available for, the greater the chance of being selected.

During the review phase each student gives a presentation of 10 or 15 mins, with 5 mins of questions/discussion. Although the vehicle for the presentation is a topic related to the course, emphasis is on style (addressing the audience, clear slides, good selection of material, and fielding of questions, etc.). Together with briefer presentationsgiven in the skills course IT & LaTeX, this helps to prepare students for the oral defense at the end of the year.

Students book a presentation in a course with the lecturer, usually on the first day of the course (first come, first served). Sometimes they have an idea of what they want to talk about, in which case the lecturer need only make a note of the student name and topic (to give to the head tutor). But sometimes they have no idea of topic, only that they like the course area. In that case the leturer suggests a topic, with references. It may be to summarise a further topic in the course, or related material; or to present a proof omitted in the course. The topic is less important than the delivery.

On average each course attracts three presentations, which are usually scheduled in the last hour of the course (since that is least intrusive). In the middle week of the course the lecturer checks that the student is progressing with preparation for the presentation, and may listen to a practice.

During the Research project phase students work on a research topic with a supervisor.

AIMS encourages, but does not require, cooperation between local and international lecturers. The form therefore permits you to enter the email address of a co-lecturer. AIMS provides several teaching assistants throughout the year, but in some (rare) cases, lecturers may wish to bring an advanced masters or PhD student of theirs along to assist, e.g. with a particularly challenging practical or computational component of the course.

General guidelines on course content and style

The AIMS curriculum is extremely ambitious in attempting to provide students from very diverse backgrounds with excellent mathematics and computing research skills plus a broad overview of cutting-edge sciences, all within a very limited period.

Such an outcome is achievable only if full advantage is taken of the self-contained, residential nature of the AIMS institute which allows for greater contact time and interaction between students and lecturers than would normally be possible within a conventional university setting.

The intensive lectures-plus-tutorial-per-day format that is envisaged for AIMS courses implies that courses will have to cover fewer topics (as compared to normal graduate equivalents), and instead concentrate on covering fundamental results and techniques thoroughly in a participatory tutorial and problem-solving style.

Due to the diversity of students and topics, courses need to be highly student-centered i.e. unusually sensitive and responsive to the needs of the students. All courses should

  • Be accessible to students with limited prior background, who may well need extra coaching especially in mathematics and physics. Lecturers will need to be willing to adjust the pace and content of the course as it proceeds, and should plan for this.
  • Be challenging and interesting for students with excellent backgrounds. Enough material should be made available (for example in harder problems) to fully occupy better-prepared students. Additional evening mini-lectures on advanced topics will be encouraged.
  • Include a set of mathematical problems which may be solved by students in sessions to be held each afternoon following the course lecture. During these sessions tutors will be available to handle questions, but lecturers should plan to use these sessions to advise and assist students. Informal interaction including ad-hoc follow-up lectures and tutorials, problem solving and computer lab sessions will also be strongly encouraged.
  • Include one or more computer projects to be solved using Free Software, preferably SAGE, SciPy, or R. There are teaching assistants at AIMS who can assist a lecturer unfamiliar with these platforms. Please contact the AIMS IT Manager with any queries about other available software

.SAGESciPyR

In keeping with the above, the duties involved in teaching a course at AIMS will include

  • lecturing the course
  • being present to help with supervising the problem solving classes associated with your course, to be held each day after lunch, and assessing the students work in these sessions on a continuous basis
  • helping us to choose computer projects relevant to your course and advising the resident lecturer assistants on how to implement those projects

Skills courses should

  • provide a working knowledge of mathematics and physics at an honours (advanced undergraduate) level
  • train students in problem solving using a wide range of mathematical and computing methods

Review courses should

  • provide a broad overview of a major field of modern scientific research e.g. bio-informatics, fundamental physics, information, emphasizing the driving questions and reviewing exciting recent advances
  • employ simple mathematical examples and problems throughout the course (i.e. there should be at least one such self-contained, worked mathematical example in every lecture) in order to maintain mathematics and mathematical methods as a unifying theme in the AIMS course as a whole; as far as possible, be relevant to the African research environment

For an indication of the scope and level of courses usually offered, view the previous year’s course pages of AIMS South Africa.

Submit a Course Proposal

 

Apply to Become a Teaching-Assistant

AIMS centres are unique postgraduate educational centres recruiting students from the whole of Africa and preparing them for careers in quantitative science.

Each centre needs a dedicated group of advanced students and academics as tutors to assist in implementing its exciting teaching program. Students coming to AIMS have strong backgrounds in the mathematical sciences (including pure and applied mathematics, physics, computer science, mathematical biology and other fields). Outstanding lecturers are recruited from all over the world to teach and prepare students for advanced postgraduate research. The course is unusually broad in scope and employs the latest pedagogical methods in order to stimulate critical and creative thinking.

Student participation in class and independent work are strongly encouraged. The unique residential character of the institutes allows for optimum interaction between students and lecturers in a congenial environment at all hours. AIMS facilities include an excellent library and a state of the art computer laboratory.

Tutoring at an AIMS centre is a wonderful opportunity to meet and work closely with highly-respected scientists from around the world as well as brilliant and highly motivated students from across Africa.

Appointments will normally be made for a minimum duration of one full academic year, which runs from mid-August until the end of June.

Duties

Providing general assistance to the director and the lecturers within the academic program, for example in assisting with problem-solving classes and computer labs, in providing group and personal tutorials where needed, in contributing to the assessment of student performance on a continuous basis, in preparing additional materials, examples and extra classes as needed.

Requirements

At least a Master’s in one of the mathematical sciences; superior teaching ability/skills; excellent interpersonal skills; innovative flair; excellent command of English and/or French; ability to work as a dedicated member of a team where responsibility is shared.

Computer skills: Linux, SAGE or SciPy.

Knowledge of an additional language, in particular Arabic, would be an advantage.

Applications

Applications close when all positions are filled. Applicants should include a motivation letter (indicating which centre(s) they prefer), a CV and a list of two contactable references.

Enquiries can be forwarded to tutoring@nexteinstein.org

APPLY NOW

AIMS Master’s Research Project Supervisors

The AIMS Master’s in Mathematical Sciences includes a research project, which makes up one third of the course. Proposal submissions using the link below close on 5 February, but are reviewed by AIMS staff as they are submitted. The approved topics are made known to the students by 12 February at the latest, and students select a topic by 16 February. Early interaction between students and supervisors often leads to the choice of topic being decided earlier, subject to approval by the AIMS Director or the Academic Director.

Students begin their research project on 16 February and submit their dissertations on 21 May. During the first six weeks they also have courses, and so are expected to do mostly background reading and whatever preparation the supervisor suggests. But in the second six weeks they concentrate entirely on their research projects. After submission they have a week in which to prepare their oral defences which occur in the first half of June and involve both external and internal examiners (including the supervisor).

Academics and industry researchers are invited to propose topics to be taken under their supervision. In previous years we have had many excellent proposals, some of which were not selected by any students, only because of the wide choice. We encourage resubmission of previously unselected proposals, as well as the creation of new proposals.

Project description

The purpose of an AIMS research project is:

  • to give students the opportunity to work with an expert supervisor on a research project;
  • to go through the process of reviewing, understanding and explaining scientific or mathematical material;
  • to optionally do experiments — on a computer or otherwise — and report the results;
  • to write a scientific report.

The project contains a survey of literature and methods at the forefront of some topic appropriate for a student beginning research in the Mathematical Sciences. It typically contains examples, perhaps by computation/simulation, and some independent work. Ideally the topic will prepare the student for a research MSc or a PhD, or to follow a career in commerce, industry or the government sector. Past projects can be viewed at archive.aims.ac.za/structured-masters-research-projects.

The project phase lasts three months. Projects should be of an appropriate scope to allow students to do the necessary reading, work, and writing in this time. The level of the project should be at the South African Structured Master’s degree level and is some cases may lead to futher work which could grow into a more substantial research project leading to a Research Master’s degree or even towards a PhD degree. The recommended length of the research project is between 25 to 35 pages, and it is emphasised that the project should not exceed this number of pages. As a guideline please review research projects in your field in the archive of previous years’ projects.

The proposal need only be one paragraph long. It should normally contain references of which at least one should be to a textbook, chapters from a textbook or a general review article. Further selected references to journal articles should be included where appropriate. The research project should be on a topic in the mathematical sciences and contain at least some parts that are formulated in terms of mathematics.

Students are not expected to do original work to achieve a passing grade. However, the criterion for an outstanding project is broadly that it could constitute the early part of a Research Master’s thesis. For example it could be publishable, or form an outstanding introduction to the field for use by those wishing to enter it.

In the initial stages of the project students will still be taking courses. This is the time during which students are expected to complete background reading for their project. When courses finish they have six weeks to dedicate to the project; this is the time when interaction with the supervisor is most frequent (weekly is the norm), and when the work and writing up is done. Each student is assigned a tutor for support; however the tutor is not a co-supervisor.

Supervision

Supervisors should be well versed in the field within which the project is proposed. They are expected to guide students in their research projects and to help clarify difficult concepts. A supervisor should not take an excessive number of students — typically at most three. Supervisors are advised to engage students in an email exchanghe before deciding on whom to accept for a project. Of course students are given the same advice!

The supervisor is expected to be available during the three months of the research project, to guide the student and respond in a timely manner to queries and to comment on drafts. Supervisors who work in South Africa but outside the Western Cape are encouraged to make a short visit (typically one or two nights) for supervision and discussion. It is recommended that this be done within the first three weeks of the second half of the research period, when students have just completed courses and their background reading for the project. Experience has shown that this works best if AIMS coordinates arrangements: assisting with transport costs and accommodation in the AIMS building. If there is a local co-supervisor, this visit is not usually necessary. In exceptional circumstances the student may instead visit the supervisor; but then the cost of the student’s accommodation is expected to be met by the supervisor.

In commenting on drafts, the supervisor is expected to clarify principles of exposition and grammar, but not necessarily to be responsible for detailed grammatical corrections throughout the report. That, the student is expected to learn from the supervisor’s initial feedback with the assistance of the tutor (and in some cases the English and Communications Teacher). The supervisor is not expected to re-read previously corrected drafts; the student is expected to highlight any changes.

The supervisor is also expected to be present for the examination, when the student gives a blackboard presentation of 15 to 20 minutes and thereafter responds to questions and discussion provided by the supervisor and other examiners. Again, for supervisors in South Africa but outside the Western Cape, AIMS meets the cost of travel and accommodation (in the AIMS building). In exceptional circumstances the supervisor is unable to be present at the examination; then a replacement — usually local — is to be nominated and provided with questions and sketch answers. As soon as the exam timetable is being planned, each supervisor will be contacted to nominate three dates for the examination of the student. We endeavour to accomodate all requests.

Supervisors are expected to email a brief, one paragraph, report to supervisor­reports@aims.ac.za by the date at which students must submit their research reports. It should indicate the task originally set, how much independent work was done by the student and any special circumstances encountered during the project. It is designed to help the external and other examiners in evaluating the report, which they do before the oral examination. Supervisors (and examiners) are sent either a link to a downloadable version of the report or a printed copy, as desired.

AIMS relies on the contributions of lecturers and supervisors. Thank you for your support.

 

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