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MA489: Honours Seminar (Fall/Winter 2018-19)

Calendar Description

Completion of an appropriate individual project under faculty supervision, including submission of a final report and presentation in a department seminar. (Consult department for details.)


Permission of the department.


Professor Chester Weatherby (PhD)
Office location: LH3043 (Lazaridis Hall)
Office hours: Email for appointment.
E: cweatherby@wlu.ca (Do not use MyLearningSpace to email me.)
T: x4142


The entire group of MA489 students will meet on Wednesdays in LH3060 from 4 p.m. - 5:20 p.m., unless otherwise notified. As part of this course, students will give oral presentations of their work each term. The presentations will be scheduled and announced before the Reading Week for the Fall term, and soon after the holiday break for the Winter term.

Scheduled Activities:

  • Sept. 12, 2018 - MA489 Workshop on Mathematical Report/Project Writing
  • Sept. 19, 2018 - Bank of Canada - University Research Assistant Recruitment Campaign
  • Sept. 26, 2018 - MA489 Workshop on using the typesetting language LATEX (pronounced Lay-tek)
  • Oct. 3, 2018 - MA489 Workshop on Presentation Skills
  • Attend MA489 student presentations (Fall and Winter)
  • Attend at least three seminars or colloquia organized by the Department of Mathematics or MS2Discovery Interdisciplinary Research Institute


MA489 is offered in two streams - a research stream and a communication stream. The former stream is directed mainly at students intending to undertake graduate work in mathematics; the latter is designed for students either planning to enter the workplace directly after graduation, or perhaps to attend teachers college. In both streams, registered students are required to attend all scheduled MA489 activities (workshops, seminars, student presentations). Participation in the research stream is restricted to students who have obtained a GPA of at least 9.0 (B+), calculated on 6.0 senior mathematics credits.

Research Stream

Under the direction of a supervisor and a second reader, students are required to carry out a project involving substantial use of mathematics at a level appropriate to their background in the area of study. An interim report (both oral and written) is required near the end of the Fall term. Students will make a final oral presentation to the department in the Winter term, when the project is near completion, and will submit a final written report. The project will normally involve reference to at least one source in the technical literature. Original research may be included, but is not required.

Communication Stream

This stream concentrates on developing students’ oral and written skills in communicating mathematics. Each term, students will write and orally present short reports (once in the Fall, twice in the Winter). These will be graded, and timely feedback will be provided to the student by the supervisor. Shortly after the third and final oral presentation, students will submit a final written report. The final report may be a distillation of the three short papers presented earlier in the course. Direction will be provided by a supervisor and the MA489 coordinator.

* All students should choose which stream they will take part in and find a supervisor by the end of September. For those electing to take part in the research stream, a second reader will be chosen by the supervisor. The supervisor is normally a full-time Mathematics faculty member and should be consulted to determine their willingness to assume that role.

Evaluation for Research Stream

A final mark out of 100 will be calculated as follows:

  • Participation in Scheduled Activities: 15%
  • Interim Fall Oral Presentation: 10%
  • Interim Fall Written Report: 10%
  • Final Oral Presentation: 25%
  • Final Written Report: 40%

Evaluation for Communication Stream

  • Participation in Scheduled Activities: 15%
  • Oral Presentations - 1 Fall, 2 Winter: 40%
  • Written Reports - 1 Fall, 2 Winter: 45%

This document is a summary of the course outline for MA489 and is provided for the convenience of students. For a full statement of all course rules and information, consult the course outline for MA489, available from the coordinators, or from the department.