On-line Pre-Master Foundation Programme at the University of L’Aquila

Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree InterMaths - Interdisciplinary Mathematics. InterMaths is a 2-Year full-time Master Degree in Mathematical Modelling and Simulation with interdisciplinary applications, with a special focus on biomedical Sciences and industrial engineering. Partner Universities are: University of L’Aquila, Hamburg University of Technology, Vienna University of Technology, Autonomous University of Barcelona, University of Cote d’Azur in Nice.

Author: Marco Di Francesco, University of L’Aquila. See contributors page

Homogenisation of the competencies portfolios of prospective students to international Master Degree programmes is a tricky issue. Depending on the student's undergraduate study programmes and on the education system in their country of origin, students enrolling in international Master Degree programmes may feature a very diverse set of skills in disciplines that characterise these Master's programmes. To bypass this problem, starting from the Academic Year 2021-2022 the University of L'Aquila has established a Pre-Master Foundation Programme (PMFP) in Applied Mathematics

The programme is preparatory for Master Degree international joint programmes in applied mathematics coordinated by the University of L'Aquila: the EMJMD InterMaths and other two programmes in the area of applied mathematics.

It is run in summer, prior to the students enrolment in the Master programmes and includes anyhow a "pre-enrolment" at the University of L'Aquila and the award of 20 ECTS (completely disjoint from the related Master programmes). It is held entirely online, so that the students can attend it prior to physically joining their new country of studies (which is extremely helpful especially in times in which getting visas may take longer than before). As for the InterMaths EMJMD in particular, the first edition of the PMFP has given the new Erasmus Mundus students a chance to get to know each other and start socializing. As coordinator of the InterMaths EMJMD and in particular as teacher of the first semester courses, I can see very clearly that the students of this new cohort are getting along very well and work very well together, possibly due to the fact that they had the chance to meet during the Pre-Master programme, two months before the beginning of the first semester. The programme is very useful for us teachers too, because it gives us the chance to assess the pre-knowledge level of the students and to fine tune our teaching methods accordingly in the first semester.

The PMFP covers specific competencies in both theoretical mathematics (Real Analysis and Linear Algebra) and computer programming. As for theoretical mathematics, the main goal of the PMFP is bridging the gap between "calculus" and "analysis", a typical issue arising quite often for prospective Master Degree students with a much "applied" background. The PMFM includes very basic topics of real analysis enabling the students to deal with infinitesimal calculus with a rigorous "real analysis" perspective (including the use of rigorous mathematical proofs). On the other hand, students with a strong "theoretical" background sometimes lack basic programming and computational skills.

Hence, the PMFP provides a basic introduction to computer programming and in particular to the computing environment "MATLAB", which is widely used in the numerical analysis courses of the Master programmes mentioned above.

We consider that a very successful initiative both from the academic and from the social point of view. We plan to repeat this experience in the future cohort.

1 thought on “On-line Pre-Master Foundation Programme at the University of L’Aquila”

  1. Thank you for sharing this best practice! It’s very interesting.
    I have a few questions:
    Do you have synchronous sessions and if yes, how do you manage the time zones?
    Is the course mandatory for all students or can they choose the modules according to their background?
    What happens if a student doesn’t get the 20 ECTS?
    Thank you for your answers.

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