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Unit information: Algebraic Topology in 2016/17

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Algebraic Topology
Unit code MATHM1200
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Rickard
Open unit status Not open

MATH 20200 Metric Spaces 2 and MATH33300 Group Theory



School/department School of Mathematics
Faculty Faculty of Science


Unit aims

The aim of the unit is to give an introduction to algebraic topology with an emphasis on cell complexes, fundamental groups and homology.

General Description of the Unit

Algebraic Topology concerns constructing and understanding topological spaces through algebraic, combinatorial and geometric techniques. In particular, groups are associated to spaces to reveal their essential structural features and to distinguish them. In cruder terms, it is about adjectives that capture and distinguish essential features of spaces.

The theory is powerful. We will give applications including proofs of The Fundamental Theory of Algebra and Brouwer's Fixed Point Theorem (which is important in economics).

Relation to Other Units

This is one of three Level M units which develop group theory in various directions. The others are Representation Theory and Galois Theory.

Additional unit information can be found at

Intended learning outcomes

Learning Objectives

Students should absorb the idea of algebraic invariants to distinguish between complex objects, their geometric intuition should be sharpened, they should have a better appreciation of the interconnectivity of different fields of mathematics, and they should have a keener sense of the power and applicability of abstract theories.

Transferable Skills

  • The assimilation of abstract and novel ideas.
  • Geometric intuition.
  • How to place intuitive ideas on a rigorous footing.
  • Presentation skills.

Teaching details

Lectures, problem sets and discussion of problems, student presentations.

Assessment Details

There will be no final examination. The final assessment mark for Algebraic Topology is calculated from:

  • 80% for coursework (problem sets).
  • 20% based on seminar presentations given by students during the semester.

The coursework and presentation will be marked against the criteria on the 0-100 scale.

Reading and References

Reading and references are available at