Before Part III

Course preparation

At present, about two-thirds of those taking Part III are coming from institutions other than Cambridge.  We are delighted to have this influx of students from all over; a great part of the value of Part III is that those mathematicians who will be leading research groups and mathematics departments in ten years time have the opportunity to form the framework for future collaboration.

We do recognise that it is sometimes not easy for students coming to Part III from elsewhere to adjust instantly to different teaching styles, a different culture.  Incompatibilities in mathematical preparation can limit the course options open to students, and can affect a student's performance in the exams.

Therefore, it is particularly important for those coming from outside Cambridge to put the months before arriving in Cambridge to good use.  Using past course listings as a guide, pay close attention to recommended background.  Take steps as necessary to fill gaps; the syllabuses for Part II courses, together with recommended reading for these courses can be found here. Sometimes more background than the recommended prerequisites helps you to keep up properly in the courses; look at the first section of courses you are interested in to find out what you might need to know. (An example for this is knowing a homology theory for the Algebraic Topology course. Though it is not stated as a prerequisite, you will get lost if you have never seen one.)

Read the Unofficial Guide to Part III. Learn it.  Believe it.

PhD applications

One particular challenge for those coming from outside Cambridge, is that they will need to be applying for PhD places, seeking both advice and letters of reference very soon after their arrival in Cambridge.  The Part III course does not offer many opportunities for staff to become familiar with students' work (but see Part III Seminar series). Therefore, students coming from outside Cambridge will benefit from discussing their plans for the year after Part III with their present advisers before coming to Cambridge, asking them about letters of reference, which institutions they might apply to, and matters of PhD funding. Also, you should arrange for Grad Record Exams (GRE's) if you think you might wish to study for a PhD in the US.