Taster Day

Each year in March/April we offer a KS5 Maths Day.  Currently this is available for school groups accompanied by their teachers.

Spend a day with us at the University of Leeds experiencing a range of mathematical activities with an optional tour of the campus and talk about studying mathematics at university. The day culminates with the W. P. Milne lecture in celebration of a former Professor of Mathematics who joined the University in 1919.

We expect this to take place on Wednesday 29 March 2023.


Our morning programme is still to be confirmed but there will be various options for morning activities. The following is an illustration of what might be possible. Choose one of the options below and then attend our W. P. Milne Sixth Form lecture. You will be asked to rank the options in order of preference and where possible you will be given your preferred session. If you would also like a campus tour in the break before the lecture please let us know. The day is suitable for maths A Level students. Students should bring packed lunches.

OPTION A - A mathematical workshop

Here are some examples of the sessions we will offer

Untangling knot theory
It’s not only mountaineers, scouts, and sailors who study knots, but also mathematicians. In fact, knot theory has turned out to be an extraordinarily deep subject – the fundamental question of determining whether two knots are the same turns out to be surprisingly difficult. This subject also has numerous and diverse applications, from the knotting of our own DNA to quantum physics. In this session we will meet several mathematical techniques for analysing and classifying different knots.
10:30 – 12:30 or 11:00 – 13:00

Simulating the behaviour of bacteria
The behaviour of bacteria is useful to know in a variety of contexts. However, due to their minute size and the complexity of the processes involved it is very difficult to accurately predict what a bacterium will do or when it will do it. To incorporate this randomness we use a stochastic model when analysing the behaviour mathematically.
This session introduces the concepts of stochastic models and their applications. We will use a computer program to investigate the results of an example model, find relevant statistics from the produced data and discuss the conclusions we can make from this information.
10:30 – 12:30 or 11:00 – 13:00

Social distancing and geometrical sphere packing –  how are these two things related?
In geometry, sphere packing explores how densely we are able to pack spheres into a space using different stacking arrangements. Social distancing is a familiar concept to us all as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This session will explore the link between sphere packing (looking at both two and three dimensions) and the most efficient way to pack a group of people who are social distancing into a room. Other applications of sphere packing will be discussed such as atom structures in Chemistry.
10:30 – 12:30 or 11:00 – 13:00


OPTION B - A talk and a tour

A talk about studying mathematics at Leeds and a campus tour led by current undergraduate students.

Flexible timings: 11:00-12:30, 11:30-13:00, 12:00-13:30, 12:30-14:00

OPTION C - Visit to MathsCity

Spend time at the new mathematical wonderland in Leeds City Centre before joining us for a campus tour at the University of Leeds.

followed by:


We are excited to welcome Dr James Cranch from the University of Sheffield to deliver the W. P. Milne lecture.


If you take an equation involving variables x and y, you can draw a graph of its solutions: they form a plane curve. If you have two such equations, you have two curves, and you can ask how many times they intersect each other.

I’ll explain why counting these intersections is useful for a range of things: from understanding Pythagoras’s equation a² + b² = c², to annoying people on the internet, to the cutting edge of mathematics.

I’ll show a very simple formula, which happens to be wrong, and explain why it’s a good idea to ignore the fact that it’s wrong.

Wednesday 29 March  14:30 – 15:30

The W. P. Milne lecture is held in collaboration with the Yorkshire Branch of the Mathematical Association and can be booked independently of the options above.
We are also intending to record the lecture so if you would be interested in attending but cannot make it in-person please let us know.

How to book

Bookings are not open yet.  If you want to hear when they open please fill out the short form here: https://leeds.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/eecontactform.

For more information please contact Ruth Holland.