School of Mathematical Sciences
Taster Lecture

Taster Sessions

We are running a series of free online maths Taster sessions. These will include Taster Lectures, and Popular Maths Talks.

  • Taster Lectures give you a taste of what a maths lecture at the University of Nottingham is really like, often based on content that we teach our first-year students. These are mainly suitable for Year 12/13 A level maths students.

  • Popular Maths Talks give you the opportunity to hear one of our university teachers talk about an exciting mathematical topic, and how it links to the maths we teach at Nottingham. This could range from how to use mathematics in the fight against Covid-19, to climate change predictions. These are still most suitable for Year 12/13 A level maths students. Younger pupils such as Year 10-11 GCSE maths students who are considering taking maths A level will also find them of interest.

These taster sessions will take place live using Teams Live Events, and will also be available later on demand. The sessions will last up to one hour and will typically include a maths talk and some interactive mathematical activities.

There will be a Q&A session after each talk. As well as asking about the content of the talk, you can also ask questions about our maths courses. Some of our current maths students will be present, and they can answer your questions about the experience of studying maths at Nottingham.

You can join any of these sessions at the scheduled time by clicking on the relevant button below. There is no need to book. However, you may wish to sign up for our mailing list to be notified of future events.

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Upcoming Taster Sessions


Wednesday 8th December 2021


Taster lecture on Fermi estimates

Speaker: Alan Barker

This talk will introduce the concept of Fermi estimates, which are a way of making surprisingly good approximations given very limited data and some general knowledge and common sense. 

These are widely used by engineers and scientists, and are also very useful in other situations which might be met in day to day life. The ability to make such estimates is an important skill looked for by many employers.

Join event on the day (booking link to follow)


May/June 2021 Taster Sessions, slides and video on-demand

Thursday 29th Apr 2021


Taster lecture on Calculus

Speaker: Anna Kalogirou

This session will give you a taste of what a university lecture on Calculus is like. In particular, it will provide an introduction to the topic of Ordinary Differential Equations (ODEs). The lecture will also cover why such equations are useful and will present examples of well-known ODEs that can be used to model real-life problems, such as the dynamics of an epidemic.

To enjoy and understand this talk fully, students should have some basic familiarity with the notion of differentiation, and with the exponential and logarithmic functions (exp and log).

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Thursday 6th May 2021


Popular maths talk

Using maths in the fight against Covid-19

Speaker: Katie Severn

Over the past year we have seen many predictions about how Covid-19 will affect us. Some of these theories have been based on pure speculation whilst others involve significant mathematical modelling. Are you curious about how these modelled predictions can be used? During this lecture you will discover some of the approaches that have been taken to model the pandemic.

You’ll learn why our ability to mathematically model epidemics is so critical for today and for future generations. There will be plenty of opportunities to test your knowledge with several scenarios to think about too. You will also find out how you can learn more about mathematical modelling at the University of Nottingham as part of a maths degree.  

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Tuesday 11th May 2021


Taster lecture on probability

Speaker: Peter Neal

This session will give you a taste of what a university lecture on probability is like. We will consider a range of problems and the techniques used to solve them. In particular, we will look at expectation and conditional probability, and we will see how useful these are. You will have the opportunity to test your intuition on some probability questions and to vote on the answers.

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Wednesday 19th May 2021


Taster lecture on problem solving

Speaker: Tom Wicks

In this session, you will learn why problem solving is an essential skill for a mathematics degree and is valued highly by employers. The lecture will provide essential tips and techniques on using mathematics to solve problems effectively. The lecture will include plenty of interactive activities, where you will have the opportunity to have a go at solving some university-style problems yourself.

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Wednesday 26th May 2021



Taster lecture on Pure Mathematics

Speaker: Joel Feinstein

This session will give you a taste of what a university lecture on Pure Mathematics is like. In particular, we will look at the importance of definitions, proofs and examples when you want to be certain of the answers to mathematical questions. You will have a chance to think about some problems concerning prime numbers, and to vote on the possible answers. These days, prime numbers play a crucial role in keeping your online shopping and banking secure!
This talk is suitable for all students taking A-level mathematics.  In fact, anyone who is familiar with some algebra (as taught in GCSE mathematics) can understand and enjoy this talk.

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Thursday 3rd June 2021



Taster Lecture on Applied Mathematics

Speaker: Stephen Creagh

Applied mathematics is all about constructing models of the world around us, in contexts as diverse as mechanics, pandemic modelling or weather prediction, and then solving the resulting equations. Calculus is the central language of this modelling cycle. Typically, our mathematical models take the form of differential equations, in which the governing equations tell us about the rates of change (derivatives) of the quantities we are interested in.

In this taster lecture we will explore qualitative and graphical approaches to understanding the solutions of these models. These qualitative approaches often give really good insight into the problem while demanding much less effort than would be needed for complete solutions in the form of explicit formulas. For example, in modelling a pandemic, we might be much more interested in answering questions such as whether infection numbers will rise or fall, whether they will approach an equilibrium or keep changing steadily, and if rising, what parameters might be changed to make infections fall etc.

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School of Mathematical Sciences

The University of Nottingham
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Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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