MATH321/322/323 (2020) - Home Page

Welcome to the home page for MATH321, 322, 323, and 466, for 2020.

Kia ora MATH321/322/323 students,

The below provides some information on this set of courses. We will continue to provide you with updates related to this course here on the course Home Pages, although important announcements will also be posted to the Blackboard site for this set of courses, at

Class Meeting Thurs 2 April

Dear MATH321/2/3 students,

There was an online class meeting, Thursday 2 April at 4:10pm. We used Zoom, with the link offered in Blackboard. Thanks to those who attended. A video of this meeting will be posted to the Blackboard "Vstream videos" section of our course.

The same meeting number will be used for any future MATH321/2/3 meetings, although I do not anticipate needing any more of these this Trimester. We don't resume teaching (online) until 28 April. Students are of course free to continue as before with reading and assignments, and should check by email with their lecturer if there is any uncertainty.

Ka kite anō

Mark, Matt, Dimitrios, and Jim


Important information about the wider University response to COVID-19 is here: This page is updated regularly and we encourage you to keep an eye on it.

What is happening with teaching? As of the afternoon of 23 March 2020, teaching at Victoria University of Wellington has paused – both in person and online. This means that for this course there will be no formal teaching until Tuesday 28 April 2020. Notwithstanding this, there will still be an ‘Online Student Engagement Day’ on Thursday 2 April. It is intended not so much as a teaching day but as an opportunity to test our capacity to teach online and to engage with our students. Keep an eye out for an announcement and invitation on Blackboard for this; we are scheduled for 4:10pm Thurs 2 April.

When and how will my course be delivered? After 28 April 2020 teaching will resume. This course is already mostly delivered online so there is little impact on it. The main effects are that you will rely more now on emails and possibly Zoom or Skype sessions with your module lecturer if needed. Assignments will be emailed to your module lecturer. The Test, if there is one for your module, will be sent to you by email or there will be a Zoom or Skype session for it.

What happens to my assessments while teaching is paused? Assignments that were originally due between 23 March and Easter, are now due by email about five weeks later, after 28 April. Other assessments (Tests, other assignments) will be pushed out to a later date than previously advised - we will update this information well before the new due dates. Assessment values will not change for this course.

Who can I contact about my course? At this stage, please contact your Course Coordinator Mark McGuinness or the Science Faculty Office for course advice. Although our physical offices are closed from 24 March 2020, we are working remotely and you can still contact us via email. Contact details for the Faculty Office are available on the website. For advice about the modules you have chosen, please contact the module lecturer.

These are challenging times and it’s important to prioritise your own health and wellbeing. We understand students will be affected in a variety of different ways, and we will do our best to be flexible and support you however we can. Stay calm, be kind to each other, and take care.

Ngā mihi

Mark, Matt, Dimitrios, Jim, Martha, and John.

The organisational meeting was at the first lecture on Monday 2nd March from 16:10 to 17:00 in Murphy LT102.

To complete one of these courses, you choose two modules. Each module is worth half a course.

Please note that MATH323, being also a geophysics course, requires that if you are in the Solid Earth stream for Geophysics, you must do the Tensors module (T2 only), plus one of (Meteorology, Ocean Fluids, or Inverse Theory). These modules are not on offer until T2. So you'd better not enrol in MATH323 until T2, this year!

If you are not in the Solid Earth stream for geophysics, you do not have to do Tensors for MATH323, and hence you can do MATH323 in T1.

There is an organisational meeting at the first lecture on Monday 2nd March from 16:10 to 17:00 in Murphy LT102. This meeting is to help you decide what modules you will do. Then you contact the owner/lecturer of each module you choose. Please also email the course coordinator Mark McGuinness to advise your choices.

For each one of the courses (Math 321/322/323 or Math 466/467) you enrol in, you will need to complete two modules (distinct modules, no double counting.

The Modules for 466/467 are more work than the 300-level modules; see the module owner or module details for more about this.

The equivalent of twelve modules will be offered in 2020. Six of them are in both T1 and T2; Fractals, Tensors, and Inverse methods are offered in T2 only.

Class Representative

The class rep for MATH321, 322, and 323 is Josh, who can be contacted at ohagajosh at myvuw dot ac dot nz. Thanks Josh for volunteering, and congratulations on being made Class Rep by acclamation! Josh has set up a Facebook page for these courses here.

MODULES ON OFFER in T1 (for more details, see further below):

  1. Special relativity, Matt Visser, both T1 and T2.
  2. Quantum physics, Matt Visser, both T1 and T2.
  3. Hamiltonian and Lagrangian mechanics, Matt Visser, both T1 and T2.
  4. Oceanic fluids, Dimitrios Mitsotakis, both T1 and T2.
  5. Numerical solution of differential equations, Dimitrios Mitsotakis, both T1 & T2.
  6. Meteorology (reading course), Jim McGregor, both T1 and T2.

If you want to do Cartesian tensors or Inverse theory or Fractals, since they are only taught in T2, you need to enrol in the T2 version, DO NOT ENROL IN T1.

Only enrol in the semester in which you will complete the second of the two modules.

(You can if you wish informally take one module now, in T1, and we will keep the marks for T2 when you formally enrol and complete the other module.)

Special rules apply for Honours students (Math 466/467); basically you will need to do extra work.

(And Honours special relativity is sufficiently different from 3rd-year special relativity that this the one case where you can do both...)

Individual lecturers may set different deadlines and requirement for their modules: Ultimately it is the student's responsibility to make sure they contact the appropriate lecturer and make sure they do the required reading and assignments by the specified deadlines.


Course Coordinator: Prof Mark McGuinness

Other lecturers: Prof Matt Visser, Dr Dimitrios Mitsotakis, Jim McGregor, Martha Savage, John Townend .


  1. Special relativity (Matt Visser, reading, Trimester 1 & 2)
  2. Quantum physics (Matt Visser, reading, Trimester 1 & 2)
  3. Lagrangian and Hamiltonian mechanics (Matt Visser, reading, Trimester 1 & 2)
  4. Fluid Mechanics and the Mathematics of Tsunamis (Dimitrios Mitsotakis, reading, Trimester 1 & 2)
  5. Numerical Solution of Differential Equations (Dimitrios Mitsotakis, reading, Trimester 1 & 2)
  6. Fractals ( Mark McGuinness, T2 only)
  7. Meteorology Reading (Jim McGregor, reading, Trimester 1 & 2)
  8. Meteorology Project (James Mc Gregor, project, available to selected students, T2 only)
  9. Cartesian tensors and introduction to applications (Martha Savage, lectured, first half of Trimester 2.) The Tensors module is required for any Solid Earth stream students doing MATH323.
  10. Introductory inverse theory (John Townend, offered in the second half of T2, provided enough students are interested.)