AIMS South Africa offers an intensive one-year postgraduate course leading to a Structured Master’s in Mathematical Sciences, formally accredited by the Universities of Cape Town, Stellenbosch, and the Western Cape. The programme is taught in association with the faculty of the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford and Paris Sud XI.
The course provides both a broad overview of cutting-edge sciences and strong mathematical and computing research skills. The course is unique, offering students exposure to a range of topics, thereby allowing them to make an informed choice as to their future specialisation. The goal is to develop well-rounded scientists, with excellent problem-solving skills, capable of creative thinking and genuine innovation. There is a strong grounding in end-to-end skills, from problem formulation, estimation, prioritization, and generally applicable mathematical and computing methods, through to clear and concise scientific report writing. A number of modules which also make the course interesting and relevant to prospective mathematics and science teachers have been included.
Faculties from the nearby Universities of the Western Cape, Cape Town and Stellenbosch have been intimately involved in developing the AIMS course. World-leading scientists and educators have volunteered to teach at AIMS. Their participation ensures an education of the highest international quality. Tutors (often including alumni) provide teaching and administrative assistance, assistance to foreign language speakers, and continuity across the visiting lecturers.
Students are registered at one of the three local universities: Cape Town, Stellenbosch or Western Cape.
Completing a course of such scope and depth in just one academic year is possible only if it is highly intensive, so students must come prepared to work hard and focus. The residential nature of AIMS allows far greater contact time between lecturers and students than normally available in a university setting. Courses are student-centered but very demanding. Students study two subjects at a time every three weeks, with morning lectures and related afternoon problem solving and computing sessions. Each course consists of 30 hours contact time (10 per week). Additional tutorials and special lectures are often held in the evenings, when students complete their assignments.
No special preparation for the course is needed on a student’s part. However, the working language is English and foreign students are advised to take an English language course before arrival. The course also carries a large component of scientific computing, and many hours are spent in the computer lab; students who have improved their touch typing skills before the programme will have a distinct advantage.
At AIMS South Africa there are two intakes each year (January and August). The curriculum runs over 3 semesters described below. There is an oral defense of the research project at the end of the academic year followed by a graduation ceremony.
First Semester: Skills courses
These 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. All courses are compulsory.
- October 2021 intake skills courses overview and abstracts
- January 2021 intake course overview and abstracts
Second semester: Review courses
These are fundamentally different in that they include a wide range of topical issues and are more flexibly designed. Students are required to complete 2 out of the 3 available review courses in each time slot, a total of 12. The 3 choices in each time slot will be balanced with respect to focus on mathematics, physics and interdisciplinary topics such as computer science, mathematical biology, mathematical finance, and more. The ongoing communication skills and computing classes are compulsory:
- October 2021 intake review courses overview and abstracts
- January 2021 intake course overview and abstracts
Please click here to apply to teach a course at an AIMS centre.
Third semester: Research project
During the three-month long Research project students work on a research topic with a supervisor, usually from a South African university. Students are not expected to do original work to achieve a passing grade. However, the criterion for an outstanding research project is broadly that it could constitute the early part of a Research Master’s thesis. For example, it could be publishable in a journal, or form an outstanding introduction to the field that could be used by other students entering the area.During this phase targeted communication skills and computing classes may continue, at the lecturers’ discretion. The purpose of the research project is:
- to give students the opportunity to work with an expert supervisor on a research project;
- to go through the process of independently 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.
Please click here for more information on submitting a research project topic