Brief advice for Part II

I got a very nice email this afternoon from a IB student1 pointing out some mistakes in my Linear Algebra notes, and asking if I had any Part II notes that they could study over the summer. Unfortunately I don’t (yet), but I have some thoughts on what you could work on over the summer break. Rather than lock them up in an email, I’m posting them here.

A good starting point is the course schedules, which explain the courses which are available in Part II. If you want something to study over the summer, then a C course is probably a safe option. C courses are supposed to be “straightforward and accessible, and of general interest”, which is good if you’re working through the material on your own.

I worked on Number Theory and Coding and Cryptography over my summer vacation. Both of them are very friendly courses with lots of interesting material. If you’re feeling slightly more ambitious, then the Graph Theory course is also a nice standalone, with some very pretty results. The section on Ramsey theory is particularly fun.

On the applied side, I’ve heard good things about Mathematical Biology2, Asymptotic Methods and Fluid Dynamics, but I haven’t studied them myself, so I don’t know how easy they’d be somebody working on their own over the summer.

Here are some good places for Part II lecture notes:

You could also get a head start on CATAM (once next year’s questions are posted). There are usually a handful of questions with no specific pre-requisites that you can dive straight into.

Finally, if you want to do extra study over the summer, then you should definitely consult your Director of Studies. They’ll be able to give you much more specific advice about what third year courses you might enjoy, and how you’d be best placed spending your time.


  1. The Cambridge Maths degree has four parts, with one split into two sub-parts. Part IA is first year, IB is second year, II is third year, and Part III is the fourth year (similar to a Master’s degree at other universities). ↩︎

  2. Disclosure: the current lecturer is also my Director of Studies. ↩︎