MATH380-20S2 (C) Semester Two 2020

Mathematics in Perspective

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 13 July 2020
End Date: Sunday, 8 November 2020
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Friday, 24 July 2020
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 25 September 2020


Topics in the history, philosophy, directions and culture of mathematics including significant results from the past and an outline of some major areas of progress in the 20th century.

What is mathematics? Where did it come from, and was it discovered or invented? What are some of the key moments in the history of mathematics? What kinds of mathematical results are considered important, and why? How does being human affect the mathematics we do? How can craft help us understand mathematics?

Explore the questions, challenges, and crises that mathematicians have faced throughout history and the ways in which they tackled and resolved them. Reflect upon the features and foundations of contemporary mathematics. Experiment with making and manipulating mathematical objects.

This course is about the history, philosophy, people and major results of mathematics over the centuries. The course is aimed not just at students with a 200-level mathematics background, but also at intellectually mature students in philosophy and the sciences. Our emphasis on the ‘big picture’ of mathematics and alternative authentic ways to approach it, should also appeal to current or intending mathematics teachers.

Learning Outcomes

  • Students who have succeeded in this course will:

  • be able to access information about the history and philosophy of mathematics from a variety of sources, and to critically evaluate that information,
  • know about some major developments in the history and philosophy of mathematics,
  • understand these developments in terms of the historical context in which they occurred and in terms of their relationship to modern mathematics,
  • understand the relationship between mathematics and craft,
  • be able to communicate with peers and with lay people about mathematics.


30 points in Mathematics or
Statistics or
Engineering Mathematics at 100 level. 45 points from the BA or
BSc Schedule at 200 level in Mathematics, Statistics, Engineering Mathematics, related subjects, or
other subjects with good grades, as approved by the Head of School.


MATH301, MATH433, HAPS405

Course Coordinator / Lecturer

Clemency Montelle


Jeanette McLeod and Phillip Wilson


Participation: 10%
Two mini-assignments (History of Maths): 20%
Project (Maths Craft): 20%
Two end-of-term take-home tests: 50%

Textbooks / Resources

Recommended Reading

J. Fauvel and J. Gray; The History of Mathematics. A Reader ; Macmillan, 1987.

J. Katz; A History of Mathematics. An Introduction ; Addison-Wesley, 1993.

Copies of these books will be held on restricted loan in the Engineering and Physical Science Library.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $780.00

International fee $4,250.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see Mathematics and Statistics .

All MATH380 Occurrences

  • MATH380-20S2 (C) Semester Two 2020