Friday, 19 August 2011

M337 TMA03 Back and Plans for next year

Got my third TMA for M337 back up in the higher end of grade 2 so consistent with my other TMA's. Just couldn't see how to do a question on analytic continuation, my tutor has given me some clues so I'll try and do that question again. Nearly finished TMA06 for M208 hopefully I'll polish it off over the weekend and I want to get stuck in to the final TMA for M337 which I hope to finish by the end of next week.

Anyway plans for next year have crystallised As already stated I'll be doing
M338 Topology
M336 Group theory and Geometry

and also
MS324 Waves, Diffusion and  Variational Principles

Also I'll be doing a little philosophy I'm registered for a course on David Hume at Edinburgh University Dept Continuing Education this courses counts for 10 CATS points and so is equivalent to 10 OU points.

Next year I'll be doing two more philosophy courses from Oxford University dept continuing education

Namely Epistemology and Philosophy of science again these are 10 points.

Come October I shall be doing

M381 Number theory and Logic
MST326 Fluid Dynamics and Mathematical methods
and the OU Philosophy of mind course.

So by June 2013 I should have finished my undergraduate studies in both Philosophy and Mathematics and then we'll see. I want to do the MSc in maths but I haven't quite worked out how to continue my philosophy studies. The Open University is not the only university to change it's course structure. Lampeter University has now been amalgamated into St Davids university and their philosophy courses have changed their structure they now offer three courses:

An MA in European philosophy (Kant, Nietszche, Foucault, the Frankfurt school etc). An MA in general philosopy and  an MA in Applied Philosophy. I'm leaning towards the European philosophy course,

as St David's have a large track record of providing distance learning MA's and PhD's it would seem the best place to do philosophy. That would take 3-4 years alongside the 4 years I envisage to do the MSc in maths

I feel that whilst Contintental philosophy is usually frowned upon by most Anglo - American philosophy as it's supposed to be nonsense eg A J Ayer once dismissed Existentialism as a misuse of the verb to be. It deals with more concrete issues than current analytic philosophy. Also I get the feeling that Analytic philosophy suffers from 'Science envy' it's trying to do science without actually being scientific.

Also, it's not clear to me that analytic philosophy is immune from nonsense,. There is a large school of thought stemming from Lewis that takes the idea of all possible worlds having an existence. This has had (in my view) a pernicious influence in the philosophy of science especially enshrined in the Many Worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. I find incredible that this idea is taken seriously however that is the current state of play.

I'm not convinced that I can understand mathematics or the foundations of physics better by studying the philosophy of it any more than I'm doing now. Also I want philosphy to represent another side of my personality.

 Given the current failure of capitalism it seems to me that the insights of the Critical school be it either French (Foucault etc) or German (Habermas, Adorno, Horkheimer etc) have something to offer and it would be worth trying to understand their ideas. 

In the next post I'll talk about the Cambridge Computing project which has about 12 recruits. Hopefully on Sunday evening


  1. Hi Chris,

    You mention taking 4yrs for the MSc Maths, with the OU. Have you had cause to speak with anyone on the modules past or present, about the workload that each Masters module involves? I'm just curious to try and find out, from the coal face, what the 'normal' time for completing the MSc is, and what is the 'quickest', time, without going overboard with volume and thus, letting grades suffer.

    I know the stock answers are on the website from the OU, but I wonder if the reality is any different.

    I see that the OU recommend taking only one 30 point course to begin with and, in the penultimate year, just doing one advance module, before moving on to the project; but they don't comment on whether an above average or keener student, could take two or even three modules per year, and finish in 2-3yrs.

    I've not been able to make sense of why the OU masters is ostensibly set up to take 4+yrs of study, yet a part-time masters at Kings, for example, will take you 18 months to two years and most masters are 1yr full time. There appears a chasm of difference in time taken, compared to the OU.

    Is the OU course more comprehensive? Or could it be that the task of postgraduate distance learning, is a much greater challenge; in comparison to being in daily contact with tutoring professors, on a traditional taught course?

  2. M338, M336 and MS324 together. Blimey. I want some of whatever you're on. There's me thinking I'm busting a gut by daring to tackle MS324 on its own.

    TMA6 for M208 is analysis II, yes? Probably my favourite part of the course.

    Keep up the good work. I drop in here for inspiration whenever I need a dollop of "kick up the ****" - which is generally daily. :-)

  3. No I haven't had any conversation with anyone it's just a realistic appraisal of what I can do given that I want to do an MA in philosophy concurrently. I would have thought in general it takes 3 years to do an MSc 2 for course work and 1 for a dissertation. The OU is somewhat different as the dissertation is only 1/6th of the whole course whereas an MSc at Kings would be a piece of research. My MSc at Southampton took 2 years for course work and another year for the dissertation, although I didn't help myself as I had to learn a whole new area rather than apply the techniques I learnt to a new problem and as I was away from Southampton after the course work it made things a lot harder.

    The OU maths MSc does seem differently structured to other MSc's even in the OU where it's two years course work followed by a dissertation. I'm not sure it's the case that the courses are more comprhensive indeed some just seem similar to level three courses at other universities. If you can get on to the King's course it might be better for your long term aims to do that after your undergraduate courses with maybe a year doing some of the physics courses before applying to King's.
    The only courses from the MSc in maths that are directly relevant to a particle physicist would be Applied Complex Variables, Calculus of Variations and Approximation theory and possibly functional analysis but the functional analysis course isn't really relevant to physics.

    As you can do things in stages you could get a postgraduate certificate or diploma and then having done the level three physics/maths courses switch to Kings for an MSc directly relevant to your needs. Or King's may accept you for a preliminary year after you've done the undergraduate courses. In whioh case you could bypass the OU altogether.