MATHS 720 : Group Theory


2024 Semester One (1243) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

A study of groups focusing on basic structural properties, presentations, automorphisms and actions on sets, illustrating their fundamental role in the study of symmetry (for example in crystal structures in chemistry and physics), topological spaces, and manifolds.

Course Overview

This course is intended for students who have enjoyed the axiomatic introduction to modern algebra presented in MATHS 255 / 320 / 328. Here we focus on structural properties, presentations, automorphisms and actions on sets, and illustrating their fundamental role in the study of symmetry, for example in crystal structures in chemistry and physics, topological spaces and manifolds. We introduce students to some of the major results in the area: for example, the classification of finite simple groups, the building blocks or "atoms" of group theory. We describe some of the fundamental constructions used to build up more complex group structures, including wreath products. A student completing this course will have a good knowledge of the foundations of group theory, its connections and applications and the challenges it poses.

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: MATHS 320

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 3: Knowledge and Practice
Capability 4: Critical Thinking
Capability 5: Solution Seeking
Capability 6: Communication
Graduate Profile: Master of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate familiarity and confidence in using the definitions and axioms of group theory to answer challenging questions and solve theoretical problems. (Capability 3, 4 and 5)
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of the potential applications and connections to other disciplines. (Capability 3, 4 and 5)
  3. Develop and demonstrate the ability to write clear and concise proofs of important fundamental theorems and to obtain solutions of related problems. (Capability 3, 4, 5 and 6)
  4. Develop and demonstrate the nature of proof and precision in mathematics, by presenting both formally and informally arguments in both verbal and written form. (Capability 3, 4, 5 and 6)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Assignments 30% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 70% Individual Examination
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4
Final Exam
The final grade for each student will be calculated using the plussage system, taking the maximum of two scores: EITHER 30% from assignments and 70% from the final exam, OR 100% from the final exam.   Students must score at least 35% in the final exam in order for this system to apply.


Tuākana Science is a multi-faceted programme for Māori and Pacific students providing topic specific tutorials, one-on-one sessions, test and exam preparation and more. Explore your options at

Whanaungatanga and manaakitanga are fundamental principles of our Tuākana Mathematics programme which provides support for Māori and Pasifika students who are taking mathematics courses. The Tuākana Maths programme consists of workshops and drop-in times, and provides a space where Māori and Pasifika students are able to work alongside our Tuākana tutors and other Māori and Pasifika students who are studying mathematics.

Key Topics

  • Basic Theory of Groups (1 week)
  • Group Actions (1 week)
  • Sylow Theory (1 week)
  • Presentations of groups by generators and relations (2 weeks)
  • Abelian groups, finite and infinite (1 week)
  • Subgroup series (1 week)
  • Soluble groups (1 week)
  • Nilpotent groups (1 week)
  • Finite simple groups (1 week)
  • Group constructions (2 weeks)

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15-point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15-point course that they are enrolled in. For each week of this course, you can expect 3 hours of lectures, 4 hours of reading and thinking about the content and 3 hours of work on assignments  and exam preparation.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

  • Attendance is strongly recommend at scheduled lectures.
  • The course will not include live online events.
  • The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable.

Learning Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

Lecture notes prepared by the lecturer are available  and cover the entire course material.
We suggest the following texts as sensible additional resources to consult:

  • Joseph Gallian, Contemporary Abstract Algebra
  • David Dummit & Richard Foote, Abstract Algebra
  • Marshall Hall, The Theory of Groups
  • John Rose, A Course in Group Theory
  • Joseph Rotman, The Theory of Groups

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

It is clear from feedback that attendance at lectures and engagement in exercises and assignments greatly increase your chances of performing well in this course.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed for potential plagiarism or other forms of academic misconduct, using computerised detection mechanisms.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption, we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course students may be asked to submit coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 20/11/2023 09:36 a.m.