How to Choose Your Optional Modules Wisely
This one might be a bit boring and mostly applies to Maths students, but it could be a very useful one. I found that strategic module choices helped massively in pulling my grades up, so it is worth taking some time to consider all your options.
Rules and regulations
There are a lot of rules and regs and I won’t go into a lot of detail here. I’m also only covering the Maths BSc info, since you can easily look up any additional information in the UG handbook.
First year: You have to take 8 core modules and are allowed to take between 30 and 50 CATS worth of optional modules.
Second year: You have to take 6 core modules and are allowed to take between 54 and 84 CATS worth of optional modules.
Third year: You have no core modules. However, you need to choose at least 57 CATS of MA3 modules.
For the Maths BSc the years are weighted 10:30:60 and for the MMath 10:20:30:40. Keep this in mind when choosing modules and take a lot of care with your selection in the third year of the BSc.
Modules from lower years
After your first year you are allowed to take 30 CATS worth of level 1 modules. This means that in my third year I was able to take a first year and a second year module, which made my life a lot more relaxed.
Modules from different departments
Depending on the department and the module, these count as unusual options and you have to fill out a form and get accepted. Don’t worry though, it’s a fairly straightforward process. Departments that I can recommend taking modules from are Statistics, Computer Science, Physics, WBS, Economics and IATL (interdisciplinary). A lot of modules from other departments that are very “mathsy” don’t even count as an unusual option, so fill up your CATS with those, as they are often still easier than Maths modules. For more specific rules, read https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/maths/undergrad/ughandbook/course/options/unusual/.
Modules with coursework
In Maths you don’t get many of those, but they will save your grades. Even if you find the module hard, it is almost impossible to fail coursework and it takes off a lot of pressure from exam season. Personally, I took quite a lot of programming modules, which are exclusively assessed through coursework.
Modules in third term
There are some 6 CAT modules offered in third term and I would highly recommend them. Having to go into Uni in third term keeps you on a schedule and the material from these modules are very fresh in your mind for exams, so only minimal revision is required.
If you took more than 120 CATS, you are overcatting. The calculations for the end of year average can become quite complicated, but the bottom line is that if you did badly in a module but are overcatted, that module might not be included in your average. However, I would only overcat if you think you can handle it and are actually interested in all the modules you are registered for.
A lot of modules from upper years have prerequisites, so it is worth already looking at the third year modules while you’re choosing your second year ones and take note of prerequisites. However, I wouldn’t torture myself with prerequisites that I’m not interested in just because some fourth year module that requires it sounds cool.
Modules that are relevant for internships or future jobs
In my opinion, this is probably the most important thing to consider, for three reasons. Firstly, if you want to do something as your job, you’re probably interested in it, duh, so why not already specialize in it early. Secondly, if you have taken modules that might cover interesting aspects of what you would do in an internship or at a job, you will stand out with your CV and have something to talk about at an interview. And thirdly, I think this is especially important for pure Maths students. Most of us don’t intend on spending our lives studying abelian groups, but want to go into some sort of real world applied Maths. So think about what aspects of Maths would actually be useful in your future. I for example took a lot of programming modules, some econ, statistics, finance and business, which is setting me up well for a master’s in financial engineering and later on a career in quantitative finance. So think about if you would like to have a clear specialization throughout your degree and how it might help setting you up for success in the future.
In conclusion, really spend some time in the first two weeks of term, or even the summer, thinking about your module choices, they are more important than you might think. However, please only choose modules you are actually interested in. If you think it might be easy but you don’t care about it at all, you will be demotivated and have a bad time.
Image credit: Screenshot from https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/maths/undergrad/ughandbook/course/