This is the transcript for the video Mathematical Sciences – Course Info

Welcome to this information video on mathematics and statistics and data science at UTS. Before I start, I’d like to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation upon his ancestral lands the UTS City campus now stands and with that recognise elders past, present and emerging, acknowledging their role as custodians of knowledge for these lands. And introduce myself, my name is Stephen Woodcock and I’m the course director for the Bachelor of Mathematical Sciences, and I’ll also give some information about our other degree offering, which is the mathematics major within the Bachelor of Science. So just an overview of this session, I’ll give a bit of a talk about what university life is like compared to studying in high school, why UTS might be different to some universities and also if you’re interested in mathematics, statistics, data science, why that’s a good career choice and the kind of options that you’ll be opening up to yourself. Now, if you’re watching this video, you’re obviously interested to some degree in studying maths or science at university. So why, why the subjects and why UTS? Well, these are real world skills. These are, all these subjects and courses are developed by people who are actually researching in these fields, trying to answer big problems in society and the big difference between high school teaching and university teaching, when you’re in school, all of your teachers are, they’re teachers. They’re full time teachers, whereas at university most of the people teaching you will have a teaching component to their job but also research.

So you’re actually learning from people who are actually out there answering big questions in society, trying to find new scientific mathematical breakthroughs and publish new results. So you’re working alongside people who are at that cutting edge of new discoveries. And the other big difference is the facilities. If you’re looking at lab sciences, chemistry, biology, physics, the facilities will be world class research and teaching facilities. And if you’re looking at mathematics, statistics subjects, a lot of these will rely on high-Performance computing and big bits of computing infrastructure, and we will have the facilities there which will deliver those sorts of capabilities, you’ll be able to handle the large datasets from the large quantitative problems as they do in industry. And the word industry is one we’ll keep coming back to, because all of our courses and subjects are connected to industry. We haven’t just sat down and written down the list of subjects that seemed interesting but weren’t connected to questions that society was asking. We are very connected to industry. Our research is very connected to industry. So it has impact. We want to be making breakthroughs and finding new discoveries and new ideas that benefit society as a whole. And in the last Australian government assessment of research quality, we were assessed as being above world standard in all scientific disciplines. So you’re learning from people who are genuinely out there making a difference in society and hopefully giving you the skills so that you will be able to, whether that’s a research career of your own or going out into industry, be able to make an impact both in terms of your career trajectory, but also in terms of helping society.

The advantage, really, of maths and stats is that it is very much this ever, ever growing field because the world is getting more data driven, and the world is getting more connected. Whether that’s, things you put on social media network, whether that’s a store loyalty card discount, whether that’s, in the current time, a contact tracing with the store check-ins or tracking in the pandemic who may have encountered whom and therefore what the likely modes of transmission are. All of these problems are underpinned by quantitative data. People have, times things happened, how many how much money somebody bought, how long somebody spent somewhere and making sense of these things. Making informed, evidence based decisions all comes down to maths, stats, data science, interpreting data, not just saying this much money was spent or people spent this much time at a shop. What does that mean? What are the recommendations? How might we be able to change these things or make sense of these things, the societal benefits?

There’s a quote from Ross Gittins he’s the economics editor at the Herald. His career advice was; ‘If possible, do maths. It’s the single most useful ability to have in your kit-bag to equip you for any eventuality.’ You can learn some legislation. You can learn some particular techniques later. But having the knowledge of how to make sense of quantitative information is the skill which is growing more and more and becoming ever more vital. At an undergrad level we offer two different degrees, the Bachelor of Science with the major in mathematics, and then starting in 2022 we have the Bachelor of Mathematical Sciences with two different majors. So the difference between those, really, is that the Bachelor of Mathematical Sciences is purely focused on mathematics subjects or much more focused on those. There are two majors within that, the statistics and data science one if you’re interested more in those big data problems with large data sets, so the emerging analytics type problems, and there is one for people more interested in mathematics, is more purely, the pure and applied maths major. There are applications for things like theoretical physics, quantitative finance. Those are the two majors within the Bachelor of Mathematical Sciences. We also offer a mathematics major within the Bachelor of Science, the flexible degree. So a lot of the subjects would be common between the two degrees. But the difference is the Bachelor of Science with the maths major, has a lot more scope to do other science subjects which are not necessarily mathematics. So you’ve got the option of picking up some chemistry subjects, biology, physics, to have a broader, broaden your science education.

So some of those extra subjects you pick up can do maths, but they don’t have to be. In terms of specific subjects, what you’re going to study, the best description is a mix of new and old. If you look at the list of subject names, some of those will be very familiar to you, calculus, algebra, statistics, things like that. We think I’ve done that in high school and it is building on those skills a bit more depth, taking those to the next level. But there will also be new branches of the mathematical sciences introduced, things like optimisation, scheduling, efficient ways of organising a timetable or task allocation around the processes. So linked to unpredictable things like stock prices, investment portfolios and a lot more scientific computing. The other thing to note is that all of these courses will have electives in there, so when you see a list of subjects that’s not the only set of subjects you would study. There’s always some free electives to take something outside your main field of study just to broaden your interest or your skill sets. So sometimes you could do foreign language on the side. You could do some business subjects, you could do some law subjects. You can just pick and choose a small number of subjects just to round out your education, do something to interest you and give you the skill set, a specific skill set you may want.

As I said before, the big difference really in university teaching and high school teaching is that you won’t have full time teachers. They are people who are both researchers and teachers. You’ve got that connection with people on the cutting edge research, but you also are left a bit more to your own devices. You can organise your own timetable a little bit to go out with the different classes, but don’t feel that you’re left on your own in that sense, that even in these times where part of the materials may be delivered online. If you need to reach out for help, those those options are always there, people are willing to, if you need consultation times, if you need to meet whether that’s in person or perhaps virtually, don’t hesitate to reach out to people. People aren’t too busy to offer advice and consultation and support with the your studies. If you look at the list of subjects in the recommended study plans, because you can do subjects in different orders, there’s obviously some prerequisites. Some easier material has to be passed before associated more challenging material can be attempted. But there is a study plan which we would recommend that you stick to in order to get through the course in the advertised time of three years. Now, some of those maths ones, just algebra, calculus and some of those maths to build on that, introduce some statistics, you’ll say words in there you’l recognise; probability, programming.

There’ll also be some which may be less familiar to you, like quantitative management. That’s a very industrial branch of mathematics, looking at things like in timetabling and task allocation. The two courses we offer look quite similar. There is a science elective in the first year of the maths major within the flexible science degree where you would dip your toe into some chemistry, maybe forensic science, environmental science, whereas within the Bachelor of Mathematical Sciences it’s another math subject. So overall, they will have the same core set of competencies. But the math, the Bachelor of Mathematical Sciences is much more tailored to specifically within maths and to within those specific majors, whereas the BSC is a bit more flexible and you’ve got the option to do other scientific subjects as well. In terms of the career options, well, anything that produces quantitative data, any time you’re picking up information and trying to make sense of it, needs mathematicians, need statisticians with a very flexible skill set. And it’s a bit of a possibly overused term. But we are heading into this sort of data driven future, we’re getting more and more quantitative data and more and more questions that are asking us to make sense of it. Can we get policy advice, can we make recommendations based on this. That’s true for both the maths major within the Bachelor of Science and also the Bachelor of Mathematical Sciences, we can be a bit more tailored towards specific skill sets in the sense that it’s not broadly in mathematics, it’s very specifically in statistics and data science or in the pure and applied maths major, which has applications and things like quantitative finance.

Both of these courses are quite industry aligned and there is the option of internships in the later years. So rather than just getting used to handling a data set that some of you have put together for the sake of asking question, building the skills, actually going out and working in industry, in internship, in an analytics team is an option which is there for you to be going out and actually handling a real world problem. So the career outcomes really are very flexible, written a list here of things like finance, engineering, health care, policy making, education, all of these things, any time that you’re generating a data set, particularly something to be stored digitally, a large database, somebody has to make sense of that. People don’t gather information for gathering information sake, people gather information in order to do something with it. And those careers, those career paths are open if you are the person who has the computational skills and statistical skills to make those kind of informed decisions. In terms of recommended studies, without being too glib, the obvious answer is how much math should you have done in high school? The answer is as much as possible.

Realistically, having done extension one is probably, they tend to do a bit better, but extension one or extension two would be ideal preparation, at least two units of math and also having done at least two units of English because it’s an English language course. And so, being able to communicate clearly in terms of pulling information from plain language, but also reporting findings back is important. There are bridging courses if you have a lesser level of study, but obviously this is not the preferred. So those aren’t prerequisites, they’re not essential, but that’s the recommended preparation for the degrees. And also, we do offer double degrees jointly with business, international studies, creative intelligence and innovation, engineering and law. At the moment, only the BMathSci is only available as a double degree with international studies. So those if you want to pick up subjects or whole courses from two different disciplines, the cutoff for the selection ranks for those are slightly different. So do look at the website for those because you would need to meet the minimum cutoff for both disciplines that you were wishing to study.

So if you do have any other questions or any other queries you want answering, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. The website is given there, as is the email address. So just send an email, somebody would be very happy to get back to you. Hopefully hear from you soon. And I hope to see you on campus before too long. Thank you.