Archive for Department of Mathematics

Opportunities in Mathematics, Statistics and Probability at Sussex University

Posted in Education with tags , , on April 16, 2016 by telescoper

It seems a good time for a quick post to point out that we have some jobs available in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Sussex. These posts have been made available following the University’s annual strategic planning process, in which it is one of my main responsibilities as Head of the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences to put forward plans for future developments. The new positions are intended both to expand and diversify our research base in Mathematics and Statistics, but also to provide additional teaching effort given our expanding student numbers.

When I arrived at Sussex three years ago the number of academic staff in the Department of Mathematics was just 15. We made a number of appointments in 2013 and these further posts will take it up to 25, which is still quite small by UK standards. Our strategic plan is to get staff numbers in Mathematics up to around 30 by 2018. In fact, applications by potential undergraduates to do Mathematics courses at Sussex are up by a whopping  80% this year, and if this turns into a large increase in intake then we will be looking to make further appointments very soon.

Anyway, here are three jobs with links to adverts:

  1. Lecturer in Statistics and Probability
  2. Senior Lecturer or Reader in Statistics and Probability.
  3. Lecturer in Mathematics.

Please follow the links for more detailed descriptions of each job and further instructions on how to apply. The closing dates for all three jobs are 17th May 2016; we plan to interview selected candidates in June or July.

Feel free pass this on to likely applicants!



Mathematics at Sussex – The Videos

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on February 16, 2016 by telescoper

A while ago I posted some videos featuring students in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Sussex. Here are a few more about the other side of the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, i.e. the Department of Mathematics. The first is a general video about the Mathematics BSc programme generally and the other two feature current students (one undergraduate, one postgraduate) talking about their courses and the environment for students here.







Clearing Advice for Mathematics, Physics and Astronomy Applicants!

Posted in Education with tags , , , , on August 12, 2015 by telescoper

Well, tomorrow is the big day. This year’s A-level results are out on Thursday 13th August, with the consequent scramble across the country to confirm places at university. Good luck to all students everywhere waiting for your results. I hope they are what you expected!

For those of you who didn’t get the grades they needed, I have one piece of very clear advice:


The clearing system is very efficient and effective, as well as being quite straightforward to use, and there’s still every chance that you will find a place somewhere good. So keep a cool head tomorrow and follow the instructions. You won’t have to make a decision until 5pm tomorrow, so there’s plenty of time to explore all the options.

As a matter of fact we will have places in the School of Mathematical & Physical Sciences at the University of Sussex. Whether you’re interested in Physics, Astrophysics, Astronomy or Mathematics (or even a combination of those subjects), why not just take a look at the University’s Clearing Page and give us a ring? I’ll be helping out on the phone lines tomorrow myself, so I might get to talk to you in person.

Anyway, here’s a video featuring our excellent admissions team, led by the inestimable Rob Evans, to explain the process:

The 2015  National Student Survey results are just out and they show that the Department of Mathematics has a 94% rating for overall satisfaction; the Department of Physics & Astronomy has 91%. Click the relevant link for more information on our courses in Physics & Astronomy or for Mathematics!

Mathematics at Sussex – The Video!

Posted in Education with tags , on July 29, 2015 by telescoper

Here’s a nice little promotional video about the Department of Mathematics at the University of Sussex, featuring some of our lovely staff and students along with some nice views of the campus and the city of Brighton. Above all, I think it captures what a friendly place this is to work and study. Enjoy!

Advice for Mathematics, Physics and Astronomy Students on Clearing!

Posted in Education with tags , , , , on August 14, 2014 by telescoper

Got your A-level results? Not made your first-choice University? My advice is:


We still some have places in the School of Mathematical & Physical Sciences at the University of Sussex. Whether you’re interested in Physics, Astrophysics, Astronomy or Mathematics (or even a combination of those subjects), why not just take a look at the University’s Clearing Page and give us a ring?

As a matter of fact, I’ll be around myself from 8am this morning to talk to interested students!

Click the relevant link for more information on our courses in Physics & Astronomy or for Mathematics!

The National Student Survey: Feedback and Response

Posted in Education with tags , , , on February 21, 2014 by telescoper

So the 2014 National Student Survey is under way. The NSS is much maligned, largely because it seems to be regarded by the powers that be solely for the purpose of constructing meaningless league tables. In reality I think the NSS survey is actually rather valuable because it allows us to gather systematic feedback on things that we do well and things we do not so well so we can look to improve our teaching for future generations of students. This isn’t just a PR exercise, at least not here in the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the University of Sussex. We really do listen. Here are our responses to last year’s survey in the Department of Physics & Astronomy:


and for the Department of Mathematics:


I hope the fact that we have responded to the feedback we’ve got will encourage more students to participate in this year’s National Student Survey, regardless of what they have to say; that way we can try to improve still further.

The Grand MPS School Away(half)day

Posted in Education with tags , , , on October 30, 2013 by telescoper

Very late posting a blog today because I’ve been busy all day, preparing for and then hosting an “Awayday” in the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS) at the University of Sussex. Actually, it was only half a day, and it didn’t really going that far away either, but I hope we won’t be prosecuted under the Trades Description Act..

This event is something I started thinking about just as soon as I arrived in Sussex in February this year, and we’ve been preparing for it actively for quite a long time. The background to it is that the School has expanded dramatically over the last few years, especially in the Department of Physics & Astronomy. The Department of Mathematics has grown too, but at a more modest rate. Here, for example, is the annual intake of undergraduate students for our two departments over the last few years:


To cope with this growth in student numbers our complement of academic staff has increased by about 50%, from around 40 just a year ago to a present number of 60. We have also increased our research income considerably over the same period. I hasten to add that none of this is my doing – it’s all down to the hard work of staff who were doing their stuff brilliantly long before I arrived.

Of course it’s great to be Head of a School that is doing so well, but I am very conscious that we need to ensure we continue to provide a good experience for students during this period of growth and also to make sure that has we get bigger, all staff and students feel that they still have a voice in how the School is run. To that end we set up an event in which most members of the staff were invited – academics, administrative and technical support included – as well as our student reps. Kelly McBride, President of the Students Union, also came along. In all, over eighty people attended; there would have been more had we not scheduled it during the local schools’ half-term, which was the only available slot.

The event, held in the spacious Conference Centre in Bramber House, was mainly focussed on teaching and a large part of it involved staff forming groups to discuss various themes: lectures, small group teaching, assessment, feedback, and so on. Before that there were presentations from myself (giving some background, including information about the School’s budget and how our finances work as well as how we measure up in the dreaded League Tables), from our School Administrator talking about issues relating to our admirable office staff, and our Technical Services Supervisor giving a perspective on the challenges facing our technical support staff. Each group comprised a cross-section of the School and each was given a theme to discuss. We then reconvened en masse to share the results of each discussion.

I was a bit nervous beforehand as to how it would all work, especially as there has never been an event of this sort in MPS. I was more nervous before this event than I have been about anything for ages, actually. I wondered how engaged staff would feel and whether the event would turn out to be as inclusive as I’d intended, i.e. whether everyone would feel able to contribute on equal terms. In the end I think it worked out pretty well. In fact we ran over by about an hour, primarily because the discussion was so extensive.

It’s not for me to say whether the day was a success or not, but although there were some things that didn’t work so well overall I was quite satisfied. In particular I was impressed with the number of good practical suggestions that came forward in the final session. We’re going to be working hard to synthesize these comments into a form we can work into our plans for the future.

Most of the comments I heard from people who participated in this event after it finished were positive too. If anyone present happens to read this blog I’d be interested to hear their views through the comments.

Without anticpating the feedback too much, I’m pretty sure that, with a few tweaks (mainly to focus things a bit better with fewer “themes” for discussion), this will become a regular fixture in the MPS calendar. As we get used to such events we’ll probably get even more out of them. I also hope that other Schools of the University of Sussex might find this event a useful model for similar activities they could hold themselves.

I’d like to end with a public “thank you” to everyone who took part and made it so enjoyable and stimulating, to Oonagh and Steve for their input, to Catering and Conference Services for all their help (and yummy food) and above all to the inestimable Miss Lemon for the huge amount of work she put in to the preparations (especially the monopoly theme for the groups, which was inspired..).

Now, however, I am completely knackered and will be going home to have a glass bottle of wine to recover. Busy day tomorrow too. Toodle-pip!

The Expanding University

Posted in Biographical, Education, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , on August 10, 2013 by telescoper

Well, I’m a bit busy today – despite the fact that it’s a weekend – so I’m just going to take the opportunity post here  a news item from my employer which has already been posted on the University of Sussex website. 


The School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS) will have 63 academics at the start of the 2013-14 academic year – an increase of 58 per cent from February, when only 40 were in post.

The expansion follows a very successful few years for the School, during which the number of students starting degrees in Physics and Astronomy at Sussex has grown almost threefold.

The department has also climbed to 5th in The Times Good University Guide 2013 and Mathematics was ranked in the top 10 for academic support in the 2012 National Student Survey (NSS).

From September, Physics and Astronomy will have 40 academics, up from 25 in February. There are 12 new posts as well as three replacements, including the arrival in February of Professor Peter Coles, who replaced the late Professor David Axon as Head of School.

Mathematics is increasing from 15 academics to 23, with five of these arrivals being new positions. In particular, three new professors will join the Department this year.

Professor Coles says that overseeing this expansion has been his main focus since returning to Sussex. He says: “When I arrived, plans were already under way to get new people in and I knew this had to be my priority in my first few months as Head of MPS.

“We had an incredibly high calibre of applicants for all the posts and, in many cases, have been able to appoint more than one person. For one of the posts in Astronomy, the shortlist was so strong that we have actually appointed four excellent academics in that area. We couldn’t miss that opportunity.

“Our three  new chairs in Mathematics are joining us from Denmark, Greece and Italy, bolstering the School’s international outlook.

“We have been strategic in our appointments to encourage growth into new areas for us, such as probability and stochastic modelling on the Mathematics side, and materials-based experimental research on the Physics side. We anticipate further strategic expansion in these areas in the near future.

“These appointments also represent a step towards more interdisciplinarity and better crossover between the two departments within the School, and indeed with other schools such as Life Sciences, developing still further the University’s traditional strength in interdisciplinary research.

“And, most importantly of all, students in MPS will benefit from more study choices and smaller class sizes.”