The AIMS Master’s in Mathematical Sciences includes a research project, which makes up one third of the course.
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.
The project phase lasts three months. 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.
There are two student intakes, August intake and January intake. Proposal submissions and project start/end differ depending on the intake. The following table shows the typical schedule for a given academic year:
|Project proposal submission until
|3rd week of May
|1st half of June
|2nd half of October
Supervisors can be fully remote or based in South Africa. Both are encouraged. Remote supervisors give the students the opportunity to connect with the international scientific community.
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.
The supervisor is expected to be available during the three months of the research project. Weekly interactions are the norm. The supervisor shall guide the student and respond in a timely manner to queries and to comment on drafts.
The final evaluation entails a 15 to 20-minute presentation by the student, followed by questions and discussion points posed by the supervisor and other examiners. The supervisor is also expected to be present for the examination, either on Zoom/Skype for remote supervisors or locally.