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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

African Institute for Mathematical Sciences: Postgraduate Diploma in Mathematical Sciences

The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) is a centre for education and research in Cape Town, South Africa. AIMS was established in 2003 as a partnership project of the following six universities - Cambridge, Cape Town, Oxford, Paris Sud XI, Stellenbosch, and Western Cape. The goals of AIMS are to promote mathematics and science in Africa, to recruit and train talented students and teachers, and to build capacity for African initiatives in education, research, and technology.

AIMS offers an intensive graduate-level course over 10 months leading to a master's-level Postgraduate Diploma (PGD) 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 Mathematics of the University of Cambridge, and the Division of Physical Sciences at the University of Oxford.

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, prioritisation, and generally applicable mathematical and computing methods, through to clear and concise scientific report writing. The aim is to equip students with the necessary tools and confidence for decision making and policy analysis. A number of modules which also make the course interesting and relevant to prospective mathematics and science teachers, have been included in the programme for South African students commencing in January 2012.

Faculties from the nearby Universities of the Western Cape, Cape Town and Stellenbosch have been intimately involved in developing the AIMS course, ensuring it is well integrated with local undergraduate and master’s courses, and with local postgraduate research opportunities. World-leading scientists and educators have volunteered to teach at AIMS. Their participation ensures an education of the highest international quality. Tutors (often including PGD 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.
Prospective applicants

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-centred 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 laboratory; students who have improved their touch typing skills before the programme will have a distinct advantage.

To apply for admission go to the Apply section for the required forms.

Students are strongly advised to apply by 31 March 2012 to qualify for the first round selection which takes place during March. Applicants who are accepted on to the programme will be notified by the end of March 2012. Late applications received may be considered in exceptional cases and where places are still vacant.

For more about the Postgraduate Diploma in Mathematical Sciences, refer to

For more about the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, refer to

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