This case study is about the Professional and Personal Development Seminar Series the Department of Mathematics runs for its first-year students.
First-year students following BSc Mathematics with/and Economics or BSc Financial Mathematics and Statistics.
At the initiative of our Head of Department and Deputy Head (Teaching), I coordinate a seminar series that aims to provide professional and personal development opportunities for our first-year undergraduate students and foster a sense of belonging among them. Planning started in the summer of 2017 and the series was launched in October 2017. The sessions are one hour long and take place in LSE LIFE four times in both Michaelmas and Lent terms.
The seminar series has been made possible through the support of LSE LIFE, LSE Careers and Timetables. Overall administrative responsibility lies with our UG Programmes Manager, supported by other Professional Service colleagues. Initial funding was from the TLC; it is now funded by the Department.
The seminar programme so far has included:
- An “icebreaker” quiz session where students, class teachers and members of faculty work in teams
- Sessions led by LSE Careers consultant Maddie Smith that include talks by alumni
- A study skills session by our Head of Department Professor Martin Anthony
- A talk by Dr Jessica Templeton and Dr Chris Blunt of LSE100
- A talk by LSE LIFE Student Adviser Jack Winterton
- A panel of senior mathematics students sharing their experiences
- A talk by Dr Luitgard Veraart (Mathematics) about her research on systemic risk in financial networks
In line with the Department’s educational strategy, we wanted to take a proactive approach to alleviating the issues first-year students commonly face in their transition from school to university.
Feedback from students indicates that the seminars have helped them feel part of the Department and the wider LSE community. Students feel that they have received valuable advice regarding their studies and that the seminars have widened their horizons when it comes to possible career paths.
You can read just some of the quotes from the students who took part to the left.
We’re currently trialling a seminar series for our second-year students. It is important to have the support of a team of colleagues, both at the departmental level and across the School. It is also important to have patience when starting a new initiative as it may take some time to build momentum.