MAS334 Combinatorics
Lecturer: Neil Strickland

Module information

The official course information page is here. Notes, problem sheets, solutions, past papers and so on can be found on this page. There is also a Blackboard page for the course, with a discussion board and links for uploading homework.

Exam information

The format of the exam and the arrangements for taking it will be as in 2020-21. You can find the 2020-21 exam and solutions below. There will be 7 questions of varying lengths, all compulsory. Some questions will ask you to state definitions or results from the notes, or reproduce proofs from the notes. However, most questions will instead ask you to solve problems, which will often require some creative modification of the methods explained in the notes. There is a separate document with more details.

Lecture notes

PDF download HTML version

Both versions of the notes contain links to various interactive demonstrations (described below) and videos.

The HTML version is new. It should be better than the PDF for viewing on a phone, or for reading with a screen reader. I would welcome any comments on either of these use cases.

I strongly recommend that you should attend lectures in person if possible. If you cannot do that, I primarily recommend that you work from the notes and embedded videos and demonstrations, but you may also want to look at the 2020-21 lecture recordings. There is also a lecture progress page where you can see which sections of the notes have been covered in lectures.

Interactive demonstrations

There is a set of interactive demonstrations explaining many of the ideas in the course. I will talk through these in lectures, there are attached YouTube videos, and you can try them yourself at other times. These are experimental and under development. I welcome comments about the extent to which they are comprehensible, useful or interesting.

Recommended books

The main recommended book is Aspects of Combinatorics by Victor Bryant
(Amazon, Google Books).
The author taught combinatorics in Sheffield for many years.

Another possibility is A First Course in Combinatorial Mathematics by Ian Anderson
(Amazon, Google Books).

Homework schedule

In Weeks 1, 3, 5, 8 and 10 there will be online tests. These will use the same system that was used for MAS220 and MAS221 last year, so it should be familiar for most students.

In weeks 2, 4, 6, 9 and 11 I will issue offline problem sheets. Each of these will specify one or two problems that you can submit via Blackboard; I will then mark your work and return it the following week. These problem sheets, and subsequently the solutions, will appear on this page.

Formal assessment will be based solely on the final exam.

Past exam papers

The 2020-21 and 2021-22 exams were online and open book. However, for 2021-22 I originally set a normal exam and cut it down at a late stage when it was decided to move online. The table below has the original full-length version, as that will be more useful for revision.


Office hours

Official office hours are 11:00-12:00 on Fridays. I will expect people to come to my office (Hicks J26) by default, but you can email me to arrange an online meeting if you prefer. If you find me in my office at some other time, then I may well be able to talk to you, but I do not guarantee it.

Contact details

Neil Strickland
Hicks Building, Room J26
0114 2223852