We arrange college teaching through Balliol’s unique combination of tutorials and classes. Each week, a first-year maths student will have a mix of tutorials and classes. A tutorial usually has two or three students and a tutor, while a class is led by a tutor, and involves all the Balliol maths students taking the relevant course(s). The classes complement the individual attention available in tutorials by giving students and tutors the opportunity to work together on understanding new topics from the courses, as well as other aspects relevant to the transition to university maths (constructing and writing proofs, for example). Classes sometimes involve tea and chocolate biscuits, and might be followed by a trip to the College Buttery, for drinks and informal chat about maths and anything else that crops up.
The second-year Balliol students have frequent tutorials with College tutors on both the core courses and the options that individual students choose. In addition, each student prepares a short talk on a topic that interests them, which they give to the other second-year mathematicians in Balliol. This gives students the opportunity to research a piece of mathematics that they’re excited about, to develop important presentation skills, and also to hear what their fellow students are interested in. Recent topics have included black holes, non-standard analysis, earthquakes, fractals, algebraic data types, and Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems.
Third and fourth years
In the third and fourth years, students start to specialise more, and the teaching to complement lectures happens through intercollegiate classes (some of which are taught by Balliol tutors and Balliol graduate students). The Balliol tutors continue to provide support within College, through office hours, revision support, and individual meetings.