Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module MATH41520: Topics in Algebra and Geometry

Department: Mathematical Sciences

MATH41520: Topics in Algebra and Geometry

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2020/21
Tied to G1K509


  • Prior knowledge of Complex Analysis, Analysis in Many Variables and Algebra at undergraduate level.


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To introduce a contemporary topic in pure mathematics and to develop and apply it.


  • One of the following topics:
  • Elliptic functions and modular forms: to introduce the theory of multiply-periodic functions of one complex variable and the closely related theory of modular forms and to develop and apply it.
  • Algebraic curves: to introduce the basic theory of plane curves, with a particular emphasis on elliptic curves and their arithmetic.
  • Analytic number theory: to understand important results in analytic number theory related to the distribution of primes, in particular, the theory of the Riemann zeta function and Dirichlet series, gearing towards the proof of the prime number theorem. The course will demonstrate how to use tools from complex analysis to derive results about primes.
  • Riemann surfaces: to introduce the theory of multi-valued complex functions and Riemann surfaces.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Ability to solve complex, unpredictable and specialised problems in pure mathematics.
  • Understanding of a specialised and complex topic in theoretical mathematics.
  • Mastery of a coherent body of knowledge of these subjects demonstrated through one or more of the following topic areas: algebraic curves, elliptic functions and modular forms, analytic number theory, Riemann surfaces.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • In addition students will have highly specialised and advanced mathematical skills in the following areas: Spatial awareness, abstract reasoning.
Key Skills:

    Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

    • Lectures demonstrate what is required to be learned and the application of the theory to practical examples.
    • Assignments for self-study develop problem-solving skills and enable students to test and develop their knowledge and understanding.
    • Formatively assessed assignments provide practice in the application of logic and high level of rigour as well as feedback for the students and the lecturer on students' progress.
    • The end-of-year examination assesses the knowledge acquired and the ability to solve complex and specialised problems.

    Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

    Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
    Lectures 42 2 per week for 20 weeks and 2 in term 3 1 Hour 42
    Problems Classes 8 Four in each of terms 1 and 2 1 Hour 8
    Preperation and Reading 150
    Total 200

    Summative Assessment

    Component: Examination Component Weighting: 90%
    Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
    Written examination 3 Hours 100%
    Component: Continuous Assessment Component Weighting: 10%
    Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
    Eight written assignments to be assessed and returned. Other assignments are set for self-study and complete solutions are made available to students. 100%

    Formative Assessment:

    Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University