PhD Student Information Pack

This page is about ways to obtain information.

During your PhD you will study a specific subject area and will need to have access to information about that subject. Another very important goal of PhD research is to learn about the wider aspects of your subject. There are a number of ways to develop this knowledge.

Your most important sources of information will be:

Do not hesitate to ask these people questions.


An important way to learn about the wider aspects of the subject is to attend the various department seminars. It is recommended to attend these seminars even when the subject is not directly related to your research interests, because this will expose you to new ideas and expand your knowledge of the wider research environment. Seminars are mostly held during term time.

Further information about seminars can be found here.


You will need to read books and papers. There are a number of ways to get hold of them.


For non-mathematical questions the you can also ask your supervisor or the director of graduate studies. The college web pages contain information about accommodation, student welfare etc and you should have been given a `postgraduate handbook'. Further details about the paperwork associated with PhD students is available here.

The college offers training for postgraduate students which covers topics such as time management, research skills, how to write your thesis etc. These courses are highly recommended. Information is available here.

Students funded by the EPSRC are encouraged to attend a `UK GRAD Programme Graduate School' event. This will develop generic/transferable skills. Information is available from the UK GRAD Programme website.


There are external organisations which are of interest.


You may have occasion to use computer packages to perform calculations. There are various options, depending on the nature of the problem.

The best package for algebraic or geometric computation is Magma. It costs money and the department has a small number of licences.

Mathematica is widely available, especially on the undergraduate machines, and is suitable for more calculus-based applications.

Some free packages which are useful for some problems include NTL, GMP and MIRACL. Most of these are libraries which are called from within C or C++ programmes. The PARI system can be used as a library or in calculator mode (i.e., like Magma or Mathematica).


You will be expected to write mathematical documents using the LaTeX package. This will be installed on your computer. If you haven't used it before, the best thing is to borrow a document from someone and fiddle with it. A very short LaTeX sample document is available here for this purpose.

Other LaTeX resources:


Document author: S. D. Galbraith

Document modified: 14/10/2005

If there is anything that should be changed/added/removed in/to/from this note then please let the author know.